Brighton & Hove has the 7th highest prevalence rate of HIV in England, and the highest outside of London
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown people have been maintaining physical distancing. Most people have not had sex with anyone from outside their immediate household. We hope that because fewer people are having sex, fewer people are acquiring HIV.
Marc Tweed, Centre Manager at Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) Brighton, said:
"Lockdown has presented us with the unexpected opportunity to dramatically change the course of the HIV epidemic and break the chain of infection.
"Not hooking-up during lockdown really will help to make a difference in slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and ease the burden on the NHS. If you’re finding it hard not to hook-up, THT Brighton is available for support."
Along with the rest of the UK, Brighton & Hove has exceeded the Fast Track Cities Initiative target of 90-90-90. 93% of people living with HIV know their status, 99% of those are on treatment and 98% of those on treatment have undetectable virus in their blood stream. Hopefully, this unique opportunity can help us to diagnose the remaining 7% and potentially end new HIV infections altogether if anyone who’s been at risk takes a test before lockdown ends.
Test now before lockdown ends
It can take 4 to 8 weeks for HIV to show up in tests, that means that testing while we are in lockdown will be more accurate and will pick up almost everyone who has the virus.
What’s more, when someone first acquires HIV, they are at their most infectious and more likely to pass on the virus. With fewer new infectious cases, transmission will be reduced even further.
If those who test positive start effective treatment straight away, the virus will become untraceable in the blood stream. It’s then impossible for them to pass it on to anyone else.
Order a free STI self-test to your home
It’s not just HIV that you can test for during lockdown. Anyone who is sexually active can get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and should test regularly.
While face to face appointments are limited to those with urgent needs at the moment, you can order a free self-testing kit online. You'll receive a discreet pack in the post containing everything you need to test for the most prevalent STIs, including prepaid return packaging.
Left untreated, STIs can have serious health consequences. Getting treated quickly lowers the risk of developing painful complications.
Other sexual health services
- Free STI self-test kits* (Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis & HIV)
- Free HIV self-test kits* from Terrence Higgins Trust
- Free condom and lube postal service for over 18s*
- Free condom and lube postal service for under 25s
- Free emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) for under 25s - during COVID-19 over 25s who cannot afford or who are unable to access an NHS prescription can also get free emergency contraception from the pharmacies listed
- Text service for under 19s who are not able to call SHAC while at home. Text 07770813972 and messages will be responded to within 24 working hours, Monday to Friday
Find out more
Started by London-based sexual health clinic, 56 Dean Street, the Time to Test campaign is asking people to test now to stop HIV. We’re supporting their message locally and asking people to order a free STI self-test kit from Brighton & Hove Sexual Health & Contraception Service.
- Look at the Brighton & Hove Sexual Health & Contraception (SHAC) website
- Follow SHAC on Twitter
- Look up the Terrence Higgins Trust Brighton on Facebook
- Look at the British Association for Sexual Health & HIV guidance on sex, social distancing and COVID-19
More information to protect yourself
Sex and intimate contact are risks for COVID-19 transmission. At this time, people should only be having sex with people in their household who have not been exposed to the virus, who are not in a high-risk group and of course, who have given consent.
People who think they may have been exposed to HIV can access treatment that can stop infection after the virus has entered a person’s body. Preventative treatment is also available for people who are concerned about ongoing exposure to HIV. Find out more on the Brighton & Hove Sexual Health & Contraception (SHAC) website.