COVID-19 has given us a unique opportunity to reduce, and potentially stop, onward transmission of HIV. But we must act now before lockdown ends.
Brighton and Hove has the 7th highest prevalence rate of HIV in England, and the highest outside of London.
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown people have been maintaining physical distancing. Most people will not have been having sex with anyone from outside their immediate household. We hope, that because fewer people are having sex, that fewer people are acquiring HIV.
This gives us a unique opportunity to reduce, and potentially stop, onward transmission of HIV. We must act now before lockdown ends.
Along with the rest of the UK, Brighton & Hove has exceeded the Fast Track Cities Initiative of 90-90-90 targets, with 93% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 99% of those being on treatment and 98% of those on treatment having undetectable virus in their blood stream. This unique opportunity can help us to diagnose the remaining 7%.
Test now before lockdown ends
It can take 4 – 8 weeks after acquiring HIV for it to show up in tests (known as the window period). That means that testing while we are in lockdown will be more accurate and will pick up almost everyone who has the virus.
What’s more, when someone first acquires HIV, they are at their most infectious and more likely to pass on the virus. With fewer new infectious cases, transmission will be reduced even further.
If those who test positive start effective treatment straight away, the virus will become untraceable in the blood stream. It will then be impossible for them to pass it on to anyone else. We have a real opportunity to end new HIV infections altogether if anyone who’s been at risk takes a test NOW before lockdown ends.
Order a free STI self-test to your home
It’s not just HIV that you can test for during lockdown. Anyone who is sexually active can get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and should test regularly.
While face to face appointments are limited to those with urgent needs at the moment, you can order a free self-testing kit online.
Left untreated, STIs can have serious health consequences. Getting treated quickly lowers the risk of developing painful complications.
Other sexual health services
- Free condom and lube postal service for over 18s*
- Free condom and lube postal service for under 25s
- Free emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) for under 25s – during COVID-19 over 25s who cannot afford or who are unable to access an NHS prescription can also get free emergency contraception from these pharmacies
- A text service for under 19s who are not able to call SHAC whilst at home. Young people can text the service on 07770813972. Messages will be responded to within 24 working hours, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).
Find out more
Started by London-based sexual health clinic, 56 Dean Street, the Time to Test campaign is asking people to test now to stop HIV. We’re supporting their message locally and asking people to order a free STI self-test kit from Brighton & Hove Sexual Health & Contraception Service.
- Follow SHAC on Twitter
- Look at the British Association for Sexual Health & HIV guidance on sex, social distancing and COVID-19.
Sex and intimate contact are risks for COVID-19 transmission. At this time, people should only be having sex with people in their household who have not been exposed to COVID-19, who are not in a high-risk group and of course, who have given consent.
People who test negative but are concerned about ongoing exposure to HIV may benefit from PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)
People who think they may have been exposed to HIV can access PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis)