HIV and COVID-19: six ways you can look after your health

03 April 2020

If you’re living with HIV and wondering how the new coronavirus may affect you, here are some tips to help you look after yourself.

Infographic showing advice on COVID-19 if you are living with HIV

Lots of people have questions about coronavirus and HIV. Based on current evidence, there's no reason to believe that people living with HIV are at any increased risk of getting COVID-19 or having serious symptoms.

Here are our top tips for staying healthy and protecting yourself if you are living with HIV.

1. Take action to avoid COVID-19

There are some simple things that everyone can do to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. This breaks down and kills the virus. If you don’t have soap, use an alcohol-based sanitiser.
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth – as this is the main way the virus gets into your body.
  • Stay at least one metre away from people, especially if they are unwell.
  • Sneeze or cough into a clean tissue, or use your elbow. Throw the tissue away and wash your hands after.
  • If you’re feeling unwell – especially if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing – stay at home and call your health worker for advice.
  • If you’re older or have another health condition, your risk may be higher – the same as people who aren’t living with HIV. Talk to your healthcare professional about any extra precautions you may need to take.

2. Continue to take your treatment

Take your antiretrovrial treatment (ART) correctly (the right dose, at the right time every day) to stay healthy. If you aren’t currently on ART, talk to your health worker about starting it. The same goes for any other medication you may have to take, such as TB treatment.

3. Stock up on ART

Have at least a 30-day supply of ART (ideally three months) in case you have to stay at home. It’s also helpful to know the telephone number for your clinic if you need advice during this time.

4. Check you’re up to date with your vaccines

For example - ask your health worker if you need influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.

5. Have a plan in place for staying at home

Talk with your family, friends or neighbours about how to stay in contact in the event that you become ill or public health measures mean you have to stay home. Discuss how you'll support each other with getting food and medicine if one of you is too sick to go out.

6. Look after yourself

Make sure you eat well, get plenty of rest and exercise regularly to keep your body healthy. Avoid drinking too much alcohol and taking drugs.

It’s just as important to look after your mental health. You can do this by:

  • staying in contact with family and friends by telephone or social media
  • making time to relax and to do activities you enjoy
  • limiting how much time you spend looking at the news, and only getting information from reliable sources.

Check out our coronavirus section for more information.

Written by Rosie Bernard

Content Editor