People living with HIV can now book their first COVID-19 vaccination appointment by calling 119 or via the NHS official booking service. That’s because people living with HIV are part of priority group 6.
If you’re living with HIV and haven’t shared your HIV status with your doctor, then you won’t be able to book your appointment. However, you can do so via your HIV clinic and they'll set the wheels in motion for securing an appointment as soon as possible.
No one has to have the vaccine, but we are encouraging anyone living with HIV to do so.
We asked a handful of people living with HIV about why they booked in for their jab, what they considered beforehand and what the experience was like.
'I got my first dose in February. Other than an achey arm, all has been well! I'm looking forward to getting my second dose. I want to play my part and keep myself and loved ones safe.'
'As someone living with HIV for over 37 years and approaching his 80th birthday, it was really important that I had the vaccine. When offered a chance to be vaccinated do not hesitate – book a slot straight away!'
‘I've already had my COVID vaccination and it only took a few minutes – t was quick and easy.
'It's essential for people living with HIV to know that their medication will not reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, and receiving a vaccine does not affect how well HIV medication works. Experts have recommended the COVID-19 vaccination for all people living with HIV, regardless of CD4 count.
If you're contacted by your HIV clinic or GP about the vaccine, don't delay.'
'As someone living with HIV, I wanted to educate myself on the vaccination before making any rash decisions. Thanks to the useful resources provided by Terrence Higgins Trust and other HIV organisations such as National AIDS Trust, I felt more confident in my decision to take the vaccine.
'Upon arrival, the process was swift; I only had to wait five minutes before I was assigned a nurse who gave me my first dose. I felt a small prick on my arm; it was painless. The next day I did feel slightly unwell. However, I was told by the nurse that this was a normal reaction - which is why I was given paracetamol tablets the day of my appointment.
'I know that within my community, many of us have been sceptical about taking the COVID vaccine. Unfortunately, this is due to previous malpractices of the pharmaceutical industry towards black people in Africa. I don't want to invalidate the people within the community who have this fear. However, when it comes to the COVID vaccine, I believe that as a black woman living with HIV, it was in my best interest to get vaccinated.
'To anyone who may be considering getting vaccinated. Please, do your own research, and be sure to make the best-informed decision for yourself.'
'I had the first vaccination dose on Saturday 6 March and had very minor symptoms afterwards, in that I felt a bit tired and low on energy for two days. I did have a sore arm for over a week after but I've had that with previous injections.
'I had no qualms about having a COVID vaccine as I'm very proactive about looking after myself and I'm keen to get back to a normal life which includes socialising indoors, going to live gigs and travelling. I definitely have more peace of mind and I'm looking forward to my second dose at the end of May.'
'I've been living with HIV since 2013 and got my first vaccine dose this month at Westminster Abbey, which really added a sense of occasion!
'I booked the first available appointment as soon as my GP invited me to. I'm looking forward to being able to visit family members I haven't seen in well over a year. Every vaccination gets us closer to being able to control COVID and see loved ones safely again.
'I feel very fortunate and grateful that people living with HIV have access to such great healthcare and can access the vaccine as a priority group and I would encourage everyone to get it when it's offered.'
If you have any questions about COVID-19, the vaccination or anything else relating to HIV and sexual health, please call our free, confidential advice line THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.