We know that Coronavirus COVID-19 is causing a lot of worries for people, we aim to provide information, guidance, support and reassurance during this challenging time. CHIVA have developed dedicated information for professionals, parents and young people on COVID-19 and HIV to provide updates on recommendations and evidence as received.

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Enhancing the health and social wellbeing of children and young people living with HIV

COVID-19

We know that Coronavirus COVID-19 is causing a lot of worries for people, we aim to provide information, guidance, support and reassurance during this challenging time. 

We have developed this pages for parents/carers, and will be updating it regularly as we get new information. Please see the bottom of the page for further resources and information. 

CHIVA staff are here and happy to talk to any children, young people and families living with HIV who may be feeling worried. We have specific information for children and young people here


23rd June 2020: Please see information below regarding the latest updated Government guidance on 22nd June – and further specific advice from the British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)

On 22 June the Government provided advance notice regarding an update to its advice for people in England considered to be 'clinically extremely vulnerable' to COVID-19 who have previously been advised to shield. 

At the last update on 31 May, people shielding were permitted to go outside of their house with their own household or, if they live alone, another household, while maintaining strict social distancing. At that time BHIVA advised that people should continue to shield if they were physically and psychologically able to do so. Based on the latest scientific and medical advice of a further reduction in the risk of catching coronavirus, the rules will be relaxed further, as per the Government’s advice for England quoted below:

From 6 July: 

  • You can meet in groups of up to 6 people from outside your household, outdoors. You must maintain social distancing and not share items such as cups and plates. 
  • If you live alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), you can form a support bubble with another household. 

From 1 August:

  • No need to shield, you can visit shops and places of worship, with strict social distancing.

The guidance about shielding is slightly different if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

If you are shielding because of HIV (very low CD4 count or recent serious illness related to HIV) and feel concerned or anxious about stopping shielding, we advise speaking to your clinic as the decision to shield is a very individual one. Shielding support from the Government will continue until the end of July (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable). If you socialise outside please be very careful to maintain strict social distancing and hand washing, and to completely avoid any contact with people who have symptoms of, or who are known to have COVID-19.

Many people on treatment with well-controlled HIV received communications about shielding in error. Despite efforts by the NHS to correct these mistakes, it is possible that you will receive communications about shielding in error again. However, unless your HIV clinic has advised that you need to shield, or you are shielding for a reason not related to HIV, you can ignore this advice.

*Advice from CHIVA for Children and Young People who have been Shielding

If a child / young person has been shielding during this time, due to very low CD4 count or a recent serious illness relating to HIV,  we advise you speak with your clinic team for individual guidance and support with decision planning around returning to school or college.


5th May 2020: CHIVA COVID-19 Update for Parents and Carers

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is important that children and families know that they are still able to access medical advice and be seen as soon as is needed. While COVID-19 is infectious to children it is rarely serious and children do not always present with common symptoms. If a child is unwell, they are likely to be unwell for reasons not related to COVID-19. 

There is no current evidence that children and young people living with HIV who have a good CD4 count and an undetectable viral load, are at increased risk from COVID-19 compared to the general population. If a child or young person is not taking antiretroviral drugs or is immunocompromised (has a CD4 count less than 200) or has underlying health conditions, then they may be at greater risk of being unwell from COVID -19. 

Your HIV doctor is best placed to advise you on your particular need to undertake more stringent isolating or to ‘shield’. You should continue to contact your or your child’s nurse or doctor at their usual clinic for further advice about your child’s particular situation if it is not an emergency.

HIV services, GP and hospital accident and emergency departments may be working in a different way than usual, but all services are still running. 

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced advice for parents and carers. 

There have been recent reports of a few children in the UK and other countries having severe illness with inflammation affecting the blood vessels, the heart and other organs. This appears to be similar to conditions called toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki Disease.  The report of this new inflammatory syndrome in children is worrying, but the risk of COVID-19 to young children remains very low.  

In response to these reports NHS National Clinical Director for Children and Young People, Professor Simon Kenny said:  

“To be very clear to any worried parents out there, this remains very rare, and the advice remains the same as ever: if you are worried about your child for whatever reason, contact NHS 111 or your family doctor for urgent advice, or 999 in an emergency, and if a professional tells you to go to hospital, please do so immediately”


 24th March 2020CHIVA statement on COVID-19 and HIV following release of Public Health England (PHE) guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable people

There is no current evidence that people living with HIV who have a good CD4 count and an undetectable viral load, are at increased risk from COVID-19 compared to the general population.

The following recommendations for children, young people and families are based on current available evidence and expert opinion and are in accordance with advice for adults from BHIVA:

  • Children and young people living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load and normal CD4 count and do not have any other long-term health problems should follow advice below for the general population on social distancing.

The following people should follow social distancing advice stringently:

  • Children and young people with a CD4 count of less than 200, a detectable viral load, or those not on ART.
  • Children and young people with other long-term conditions identified in the PHE guidance and also any with severe bronchiectasis. (condition affecting the lung airways)
  • Pregnant women living with HIV

See: COVID-19 Guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

  • Children and young people living with HIV who have a CD4 count less than 50, who have had an opportunistic illness within the last 6 months, or who have one of the conditions listed in the guidance below should follow the guidance on shielding and protecting for the extremely vulnerable. Which means staying at home at all times and avoiding any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks

See: COVID-19 Guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable adults

Information on the management of pregnant women living with HIV, and infant testing

Please see the statement 'Management of pregnant women living with HIV, and infant testing during COVID-19' provided by BHIVA (25th March) 


In this video Josh (UK-CAB Steering Group) and Dr Laura Waters (Chair of BHIVA) discuss questions from CAB members on the immune system, HIV and COVID-19. This recording was filmed for the UK-CAB meeting hosted virtually on Thursday 30 April 2020.

Further information and resources:

EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS, HIV & COVID-19

We are aware that there are many people living with HIV who are unsure about their working rights in relation to COVID-19 There is a useful blog by NAT that covers many of the questions we have been asked by families. 

GENERAL COVID-19 INFORMATION

SUPPORT

 FINANCIAL SUPPORT

  • Turn to Us Financial support and benefits advice

INFORMATION FOR CHILDREN

  • Coronavirus-A Book For Children (pdf) explanation book from Nosy Crow with input from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • My Hero is You is a book written for children around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • RCPCH resources for parents and carers