Covid-19 and HIV

Update - 25th March 2020

Level 4 Eliminate

It is likely that disease is not contained. The Risk Assessment indicates there is sustained and intensive transmission with widespread outbreaks. The country is going into lockdown for at least 4 weeks. With people staying at home and severely limited travel.

There are number of assistance measures that have been put in place. Visit for accurate up to date information.
Support for People Living with HIV during the Lockdown
We have closed the Body Positive Office in Auckland and cancelled in person support as well as all public social events - all staff are now working from home. Support for people living with HIV is still being provided through phone and email during this time - Contact Us.

Social Media: We have a private Facebook group that allows people to connect with other people living with HIV around NZ. As this is a private group, no details of the group or anything you post or discuss within the group will be visible in any way to other Facebook friends you have outside the group - only those in the group will know who you are. It is a great way to beat the isolation and stay in contact with others as well as possible make some new friends. Access to the group is via invite only to maintain confidentiality - Email Body Positive with your Facebook profile name or message us via our Facebook Page to receive an invite to the group.

Weekly Video Chat Group: So that people can still socialise 'face-to-face' during the lockdown, we are also starting a private video support group through Zoom. Zoom is a free group video calling service that is secure and private - there is nothing to download and install, you just access the weekly chats with a link sent by Body Positive. The video chat group will run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10:30-11:30am, and members can join or exit the chat any time during this hour. Access again is via invite only to maintain confidentiality - please email Body Positive to obtain the access link and connection details.

One-to-One Support: Body Positive will still be providing one-to-one support for people living with HIV through phone (0800 HIV LINE), email and Facebook. Please continue to get in touch if you need anything during the lockdown and we will try our best to help where we can.

Stay safe and minimise any exposure - If you develop symptoms call the Healthline (0800 358 5453) straight away for guidance. These are tough times and its important to focus on your mental health and reach out for support if you need it. We are stronger together and for the moment this will need to be virtual.

Be supportive, Be careful, Be alert, Be kind.

Ensure that you keep up with your HIV medications to stay healthy.
Visit for up to date information on the virus

Update - 23rd March 2020

Level 3

New Zealand suspects community transmission and is moving to level 3 immediately and level 4 on Wednesday 25th March. Take the necessary steps to protect your mental health by reaching out to your friends and family and to connect with your local community through phone, social media and other platforms.

Remember that when living with HIV you have the same risks as the general public for acquiring Coronavirus. Practice good basic hygiene when out in public – wash your hands. If you have a low cd4 count or detectable viral load you may have complications from Covid-19 so it’s imperative that you minimise your risk of getting it. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth as your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses.

Be supportive, Be careful, Be alert, Be kind.

Body Positive can provide support through phone, email and Facebook. We are not classed as an essential service and all staff are working from home. All social and in person support is cancelled.

Ensure that you keep up with your HIV medications to stay healthy.
Visit for up to date information on the virus

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) & HIV

HIV treatments are highly effective at controlling HIV and maintaining a robust immune system. By stopping HIV from replicating, the amount virus in your system becomes so low that it is undetectable. When HIV is controlled, it doesn’t impact your immune system so you maintain a healthy immune response to fight off infections such as coronavirus. By maintaining an undetectable HIV viral load you cannot pass on HIV either.

CD4 count is the chief measure of the immune system and a stronger immune system helps combatting any infection. If you have an undetectable viral load and a CD4 count above 500 hundred you should not be any more concerned about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) than the general public. At present, the data tell us that COVID-19 is more serious for older people and those with a compromised immune system. This includes people with HIV who have a low CD4 count (<350) and people who have cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, asthma and diabetes.

It is important that everyone living with HIV is aware of their status through regular testing and engage in care and treatment. If you are living with HIV now would be a good time to start (or resume) HIV treatment to maintain optimal health. You should have a minimum one month supply of your medications to ensure you don’t run out so that you can maintain adherence to your medication.

Currently it is assumed COVID-19 is spread through large droplets such as through coughing or sneezing. To minimise the spread of viral infections everyone should follow basic hygiene practices by washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, particularly before touching your face, preparing and eating food, or after sneezing or coughing. Ensure you cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing using a tissue or your elbow – then wash your hands.

As flu season is soon to appear in New Zealand, you do not want to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Although the influenza virus and COVID-19 are very different from each other they can cause a similar illness, and it is good to avoid having both viruses together, or one after the other. The flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine are provided for free to people living with HIV and can be accessed through your GP or Pharmacist. You are trying to keep your immune system at its peak responsiveness.

As there is no local transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand at this point there is no reason to avoid going out to events or enjoying life as usual. Whenever we see an outbreak of infectious disease it always ends up with finger-pointing and blaming and with minorities — whether they are sexual or ethnic minorities or from particular parts of the world — being targeted and blamed. As communities we have a long proud history of looking out for each other and now is a good time for us to show the best of our communities.
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