Coronavirus advice for HIV patients (updated 24.3.20)

Coronavirus advice for HIV patients

Social Distancing vs Social Shielding

Signpost to: (follow link to ‘How to protect yourself and others’)


Social distancing is for EVERYONE, but if you are >70 or have one of the identified underlying health problems (including HIV and a weakened immune system with a CD4 count less than 200) you should follow this advice very carefully. It includes:

Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
People with well-controlled HIV are no more vulnerable than people of similar age and with similar other health problems if they have well-controlled HIV and only those with detectable viral loads or CD4 counts less than 200 should be considered higher risk and therefore follow the above advice carefully.


Social Shielding is for people who are at very high risk of severe disease with coronavirus. The NHS in England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice. You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. HIV in itself is not one of the conditions that requires social shielding. However, people with a very low CD4 count (CD4 less than 50) or with a recent opportunistic illness who have started HIV treatment within the last six months are advised to follow social shielding advice.


If you think you have developed symptoms of COVID-19 such as a new, continuous cough or fever, seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms. You should let the operator know of any health problems you have including HIV. Please also let your HIV care provider know if you are unwell and require hospital admission.