Coronavirus lockdown ‘could help wipe out HIV in UK’, says leading STI clinic

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CORONAVIRUS lock down could help “wipe out HIV in the UK” as there are “far less super infectious” people in the community, a leading sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic has said.

Practitioners at 56 Dean Street in London have claimed that the UK has a “unique opportunity” to stop the spread of HIV as “less gay men are going out and having sex”.

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A leading STI clinic has urged people to get tested
Alamy

The centre claims that HIV transmissions have “plummeted” since lockdown and have encouraged people to get tested.

Asking followers for help in a video on Twitter, Dr Alan McGowan who works at the practice said: “The Covid 19 lockdown has given us a unique opportunity to finally beat HIV. Gay men are having far less sex at the moment and that means far fewer people have caught HIV, that’s really important because in the early phases people are super infectious to other people.

“There are far less super infectious people in our community right now.

“Because it takes a little bit of time for HIV to show in tests, right now because people haven’t had sex the vast majority of people with HIV can be picked up with the test”.

Dr Alan McGowan said this is a “unique opportunity” to eradicate HIV
56 Dean Street

 

What are the symptoms of HIV?

Most infected people experience a short illness, similar to flu, two to six weeks after coming into contact with HIV.

These symptoms, which 80 per cent of infected people experience, are a sign that their body is trying to fight HIV. They include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Body rash
  • Tiredness
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Swollen glands

After this illness, which normally lasts one to two weeks, HIV sufferers will have no symptoms for up to 10 years – during which time they will look and feel well.

However, the virus will continue to cause progressive damage to a person’s immune system.

Only once the immune system is already severely damaged will the person show new symptoms. These include:

  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Night sweats
  • Skin problems
  • Recurrent infections
  • Serious, life-threatening illnesses

He went on to say that if we “all act now” and order a HIV test then HIV can be “cleared from the community”.

“We are only going to get this chance once. Let’s use Covid 19 as a weapon to finally beat HIV”, he added.

The clinic has launched a campaign to encourage people to order HIV tests on their website.

The aim is to detect HIV and try and lower the spread before lockdown ends by treating those who already have the condition.

The clinic highlighted that those who do test positive would be able to receive treatment straight away, which means they won’t be able to pass it on as lockdown is still active.

It also added that managing your sexual health puts less pressure on the NHS that is already struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

So far in the UK over 30,000 people have died from the virus and the clinic has said the pandemic could be an opportunity to help eradicate HIV.


In order to obtain your kit at home you have to fill out a short questionnaire which will determine what test best suits your needs.

A box containing the sample kit will then arrive in 2-3 working days. Once you receive your kit you need to take the test and send it back through the post. 

The results will then be received via text message. 

Pharmacies also sell the kits and they are available to purchase from £15 to £31.

It was reported earlier this year that HIV rates had plummeted in the UK thanks to pioneering drugs and a rise in testing.

In 2014, there were an estimated 2,300 HIV transmissions among men (gay, bisexual or other) who have sex with other men, falling to 800 in 2018 – a 73 per cent drop.

The number of men who have sex with other men who are living undiagnosed with HIV has also halved since 2014 from an estimated 7,000 to 3,600 in 2018.

 

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