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Updated Government guidance on 22 June – advice from the British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)

Tuesday 23 June 2020

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.


For further information, please contact bhiva@bhiva.org or for media enquiries, please contact Jo Josh at jo@commsbiz.com.