People with HIV can now get a coronavirus vaccine without having to tell their doctor about their status.
The new guidelines were put in place to encourage those with HIV eligible for the vaccine to get the sting.
Instead of disclosing their status to their local GP, patients can now get the vaccine at an HIV clinic, according to Public Health England.
It is estimated that not one in five people infected with HIV will share their status with their family doctor because they are concerned about the lingering stigma. However, this means that medical offices cannot contact these people to offer them the sting because they do not know they are eligible.
Everyone who lives with HIV in all stages of infection will be offered a position in the next wave of vaccinations due to the associated risk of immunosuppression.
Dr. Michael Brady, NHS England National LGBT Health Adviser and HIV and Sexual Health Adviser, said: “I encourage everyone living with HIV to see a family doctor and make them aware of their HIV diagnosis so that they can the best possible health care get access to the life-saving Covid vaccine.
“For those who don’t like doing this, local HIV clinics can now arrange a vaccine through an alternative route, such as through a local hospital center.”
The Terence Higgins Trust HIV charity hailed the “good news” as the “right decision” by the NHS.
Ian Green, Executive Director of the Trust, said, “We are working towards a society where everyone living with HIV is comfortable sharing their status with their doctor and other health care professionals, but we are not there yet and welcome this quick and pragmatic action.
“Some may be surprised to hear that a significant number of people living with HIV feel unable to speak to their GP about their HIV status. However, this underscores how much stigma still surrounds the virus in 2021.
“We also know from conversations with people living with HIV that health care is one of the areas where HIV-related stigma, discrimination and unnecessary extra precaution is still emerging that we are working with the NHS to address.”