Lawson Unit – COVID-19 advice

LAWSON UNIT – COVID-19 advice for people living with HIV 
*** last updated 22nd February 2021 ***

Please see advice below as follows:

  1. COVID Vaccination for people living with HIV
  2. New Shielding Advice
  3. Lawson Unit Services for people living with HIV
  4. What to do if you think you have COVID

 

1. COVID VACCINATION FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV

All people with HIV should be in priority group 6 for vaccination but those considered to be at higher risk for any reason should be added to priority group 4. See here for list of priority groups.

People living with HIV will be considered at higher risk if:

  1. They have a CD4 count of < 50 or who have had a recent opportunistic infection
  2. They have a CD4 count of < 200 and have a detectable viral load or are not taking antiretroviral therapy
  3. They have other health conditions or additional factors that make them extremely clinically vulnerable as defined here

Vaccination for COVID is being provided via GP surgeries in Brighton and Hove: we would advise all people living with HIV to ensure that they are registered with a GP who is aware of their HIV status, so that they can be assigned to the appropriate priority group for vaccination.

The British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) have issued some advice about vaccination for people living with HIV which can be found at www.bhiva.org. BHIVA have also produced a short vaccination information video.

 

2. NEW SHIELDING ADVICE

Please note that some people living with HIV were incorrectly advised to shield in the first wave of COVID-19 in March 2020.

From 15th February 2021, some people with HIV have been sent a new shielding letter by the government. This is based on a risk assessment tool ‘QCovid’ that includes additional risk factors such as obesity, ethnicity and postcode as well as a list of specific health conditions.

BHIVA has issued a statement about this which will be updated in due course as more information about the tool become available. They emphasise that the BHIVA & THT advice about vaccination and risk remains unchanged.

 

3. LAWSON UNIT SERVICES FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV

During the current pandemic we are still open but our staff are also supporting the main hospital in caring for people with COVID who are inpatients.

The majority of our doctor’s appointments are being held by phone. Pharm@Sea is providing a delivery service for medications. We are reviewing blood appointments week by week and may need to delay your appointment if it is safe to do so.

At present everyone is advised against all but essential travel on public transport. If you need help to travel to an appointment contact NHS volunteer responders on 08081963646.

We will continue to supply antiretroviral therapy as normal. If you have concerns about your HIV-related health or mental health please do ring us for advice or a telephone assessment and we will arrange for one of our doctors to see you where this is indicated.

 

4. WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE COVID

If you have symptoms of COVID or think you might have COVID see the latest government guidance at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

Last updated: 22nd February 2021