NHS England has introduced new guidance that allows people living with HIV access to the COVID-19 vaccine without disclosing their status to their GP.
According to Public Health England, patients will be given the option to receive their vaccinations at an HIV clinic. Dr Michael Brady, NHS England national advisor for LGBT+ health and consultant in HIV and sexual health, released a statement regarding the new guidance.
“I encourage everyone living with HIV to register with a GP and make them aware of their HIV diagnosis so they get the best possible health care and access to the life-saving Covid vaccine.
“For those not comfortable doing this, local HIV clinics will now be able to arrange a vaccine through an alternative route, such as a local hospital hub.”
The jab will be available in phase six of the vaccine roll-out after people ages 65-69 have received theirs, as ‘Gay Times’ report.
Stephen Doughty, a Labour MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS stated: “Sadly for too many, the stigma still associated with HIV can impact on people living with HIV accessing other health services.”
He continued: “This decision will mean that those people living with HIV can access the COVID vaccine in the best way for them and ensure no one is left behind.”
Since the announcement, Terrence Higgins Trust has come forward and expressed their excitement for the new guidance.
Taking to Twitter the HIV & sexual health charity wrote: “AMAZING. People living with HIV in England will no longer need to disclose their status to their GP to access their Covid-19 vaccine early. An important step for people who may feel uncomfortable sharing their HIV status with medical professionals.”
Ian Green, the chief executive at Terrence Higgins Trust also praised the new measures set by the NHS.
“We are working towards a society where everyone living with HIV feels comfortable sharing their status with their doctor and other health professionals, but we’re not there yet and we welcome this fast, pragmatic action.
“Some may be surprised to hear that a significant number of people living with HIV feel unable to talk to their GP about their HIV status, but this underlines how much stigma still surrounds the virus even in 2021,” he said.
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