Over 103,800 people in the UK are living with HIV, with an estimated 38 million people globally who have the virus. As over 4,450 people continue to be diagnosed with HIV each year, World AIDs Day is important in shining a light on another pandemic the world is continuing to fight alongside coronavirus (COVID-19).
World AIDs Day reminds us that the fight against HIV has not gone away and is an opportunity to show solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV across the world. It is represented by the wearing a red ribbon, which has become the symbol of this unity.
While at present there is no evidence to suggest people living with HIV are more likely to catch COVID-19, it is important that those with ‘weakened immune systems’ and other underlying health conditions continue to look after themselves, especially as we come towards the end of another lockdown period and move back to a tiered system in local areas.
It is important to note, however, that not everyone with HIV will be classed as having a ‘weakened immune system’, although it is important for those that do to follow the necessary government guidance and remain cautious.
Some useful considerations to make when looking after people with HIV during the coronavirus pandemic include:
- Are there sufficient medication supplies in place for the person? There should be enough for at least 30 days
- Are the person’s vaccinations up to date?
- Are staff being advised to wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to support the person with their requirements?
- Is the person maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating right, exercising, and sleeping at least eight hours each night?
- Where possible, is stress being reduced for the person by discussing more positive things rather than news on the coronavirus pandemic? A person’s mental wellbeing is important
- Does the person’s care plan have details of how to get in touch with other health professionals supporting with their care and support?
- Is there a plan in place for when the person is feeling unwell?
In addition, more general measures should be adhered to by staff and the person themselves, to maintain everyone’s safety. These include:
- Washing hands regularly with soap and water for at least 40 seconds
- Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser in situations where you do not have access to soap and water
- Avoid touching your face, where possible
- Maintain social distancing of two metres, where possible
- Wear face coverings when near people who are not a part of your household