We are changing the way we are delivering our HIV support services during this time. This means that we are switching our services to telephone and virtual services (e.g. telephone conference/Zoom). 

 

Please expand the links below for more information about how we’re delivering our services. 

Contact us anytime

Please feel free to:

  • Contact us via email (we aim to respond within a day)
  • Phone us on 020 7791 2855 (Monday to Friday 10:30am to 5pm) 
  • Chat with Pat (24 hours a day!) 
  • Live chat with our Testing and Prevention Team (Monday to Friday 10:30am to 5pm)
 

Have your say! Take our survey

Have you accessed our services during the COVID19 lockdown? If so, we want to hear from you! Please take our short 5 minute survey and help us to develop our projects and services. 

Click here to access our survey

 

COVID-19

Am I more at risk as a person living with HIV?

The British HIV Association (BHIVA) have stated that there is no evidence to suggest that people living with HIV are at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or more likely to have more serious illness than a person who is HIV negative.

However as with the general population there are factors that make people at greater risk of more serious illness such as age and chronic health conditions (such as diabetes, cardiovascular, and respiratory conditions. A number of people living with HIV are older and also have such conditions. It is thought that people living with HIV who are not virally suppressed or have a low CD4 count may have a higher risk of severe illness. People in these circumstances should take extra care and precautions such as self-isolating.

Advice from the British HIV Association is as follows:

  1. People with a CD4 count <50 or opportunistic illness in last 6 months: follow shielding advice for extremely vulnerable
  2. People with CD4 <200, detectable viral load or not on ART: follow social distancing advice stringently
  3. People with CD4 >200 and undetectable on ART: follow general population advice (ie social distancing).

What if I develop COVID-19 like symptoms?

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) such as a temperature above 37.8 °C and/or new and continuous cough seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS111 if you. In an emergency, call 999 if you are seriously ill.

Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital. Do let your HIV doctors and/or your GP know even if your symptoms are mild. You can of course call us for non-medical related help and support.

What are the best ways to prevent the transmission of COVID-19

  • Follow the Government advice about social isolation instructions about things you can and cannot do – see here
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds – use hand sanitiser gel if soap is not available
  • Always wash your hands when you arrive and leave somewhere, before eating food
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze and put the used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • Do not touch your face, eyes and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

What if I’m admitted to hospital with COVID-19

The British HIV Association have some guidance if you are admitted to hospital with COVID19. You can read it in full here. 

These are some key points:

  • Do not stop taking your HIV medications.
  • Do disclose your HIV status to the doctors and nurses treating you. Some lung conditions that HIV causes are very similar to COVID19 symptoms.
  • Do tell the doctors and nurses treating you what medications you are on. If it’s easier take a photo on your phone of the medicine packages so that you can show them. 

It is not true that people with HIV won’t be provided with intensive care. If you require such care you will be given it. 

The full guidance from BHIVA can be found  here

Where can I get the more information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

We would suggest that you only go to reliable sources for information. The following websites are some of our suggestions:

NHS 111

British HIV Association

Doctors of the World (COVID19 info in 43 languages)  

NAM (AIDS Map)

i-Base

Public Health England

Staying In Together - Our virtual event's programme

Staying in Together is our new series of online workshops, sessions, classes and events – all designed to keep up connected, engaged and active! 

 

HIV Testing & Prevention

Our face to face HIV/STI testing clinics are currently suspended.  But we are currently piloting a new approach and if you live or work in East London we can provide you with online or phone supported HIV testing and STI screening from the comfort of your own home.

All you need to do is follow these three simple steps! 

Please click here for more information

Condoms & lubricant:

  • Condoms and lube can be ordered online at reduced prices from the freedoms shop
  • For London residents under the age of 25 (and Redbridge residents of all ages), free condoms and lube can be access from pharmacies via the Come Correct (Ccard) scheme. More information can be found here
  • People over the age of 25 can pick up free condoms via the Free Condom project in some Hackney pharmacies. More info can be found here

PrEP

  • For information on a range of issues concerning PrEP including stopping and restarting it please take a look at the advice from the website of our friends at PrEPster
  • For people currently accessing PrEP through the IMPACT Trial, please contact your clinic to arrange pick up of medication if necessary. A face to face visit is most likely not necessary at this time.
  • People not accessing the trial can continue to purchase PrEP online via I want PrEP now

Peer Support & Support Groups

The Peer Support Team will continue to provide both one to one and group support via:
 
Peer Support

All of our one to one peer support services will be offered by telephone or video calls like WhatsApp, FaceTime or Zoom.  These are all very easy to use.  We will provide peer support to you in a way that you feel most comfortable. 

Support Groups

Our support groups will still be running.  We will do them over a telephone conference or video call.  Don’t worry we will talk you through how you can join us.  Please refer to our newsletter or check the What’s On section of our website for the times and dates of the group.

 
Peer Mentor Training: Our Mentor Training is currently on hold. We will email our future peer mentors with updates. 
 
For more information please contact Antonio by emailing antonio.giacalone@positiveeast.org.uk 

Information & Advice

Our Information Service remains open and is to help and support you during this time of uncertainty.  We will continue to provide you with benefit advice, access to support services, hardship funds and food parcels.

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday from 10.30am to 5pm

Please phone: 020 7791 2855 – Option 2 or email: talktome@positiveeast.org.uk 

We have also created this document with top line information, signposting and Q&As. 

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DWP Benefits & Appointments

The DWP has recently announced that all face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits (ESA, DLA, PIP) have been suspended for the next three months, and that people will continue to receive their benefits as normal. Further details are available from the Gov.UK website

The DWP has also recently advised that all face to face appointments at the JobCentre have been suspended for three months and that people will continue to receive their benefits as normal.

People in receipt of Universal Credit should check their online claim Journal for updates from the work coach.

DWP Benefit Forms

Please note that if you receive a Universal Credit or ESA ‘Capability for Work Questionnaire’ form, or a PIP claim form / PIP Review form, you are still expected to complete and return the form. Failure to do so could result in your benefit payments being suspended.

Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses

The Government has recently announced a range of extra support and measures will be in place to help workers, benefit claimants and businesses affected by coronavirus. Further details are available from the Gov.UK website

The DWP has recently announced that all face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for three months. Further details are available from the Gov.UK website

I am working but not able to go into work because of ill health

It is advisable that you seek advice before applying for any benefits, to ensure that you apply for the right benefit and details of how much you might be entitled to – The Positive East Advice Line is open Monday to Friday.

If you cannot go to work because of sickness or ill health, check first with your employer if you are entitled to ‘Contractual Sick Pay’ or ‘Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)’, how much you are entitled to, and for how long. If you are advised by your employer that your are not entitled to contractual sick pay or Statutory Sick Pay then you might be entitled to a new benefit called ‘New-Style Employment & Support Allowance’ also called ‘New-Style ESA’, but this will depend upon how much ‘National Insurance Contributions’ you have paid in the last two tax years.

If you have been getting ‘Contractual Sick Pay’ and / or ‘Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)’, and your employer has told you that your entitlement is ending, you may be entitled to New-Style ESA.

Further details about New-Style ESA and how to apply are available from the Gov.UK website

If you do not meet the criteria for ‘New-Style ESA’ then you will need to apply for a new benefit called ‘Universal Credit’. Further details about Universal Credit and how to apply are available from the Gov.UK website

Get an advance on your first Universal Credit payment

 If you need help to pay your bills or cover other costs while you wait for your first Universal Credit payment, you can apply to get an advance. The most you can get as an advance is the amount of your first estimated payment. Further details and how to apply are available from the Gov.UK website

I am not working and well enough to look for work

 It is advisable that you seek advice before applying for any benefits, to ensure that you apply for the right benefit and details of how much you might be entitled to – The Positive East Advice Line is open Monday to Friday

Whilst you are looking for paid work, you might be entitled to a new benefit called ‘Universal Credit’. Further details about Universal Credit and how to apply are available from the Gov.UK website

I want to apply for financial help to pay my rent

 It is advisable that you seek advice before applying for any benefits, to ensure that you apply for the right benefit and details of how much you might be entitled to – The Positive East Advice Line is open Monday to Friday.

Most people will have to apply for the ‘Housing Costs’ element of a new benefit called Universal Credit. Further details are available, including a link to check if you can get Universal Credit, from the Citizens Advice website

Further details about Universal Credit and how to apply are available from the Gov.UK website

In certain circumstances, some people might still be able to apply for an older benefit called Housing Benefit. Further details about Housing Benefit and how to apply are available from the Gov.UK website

I want to apply for financial help to pay my Council Tax bill

 It is advisable that you seek advice before applying for any benefits, to ensure that you apply for the right benefit and details of how much you might be entitled to – The Positive East Advice Line is open Monday to Friday.

Further details about Council Tax and any discounts that you might be entitled to are available from the Gov.UK website

Further details about applying for financial help to pay your Council Tax bill, called ‘Council Tax Reduction’ are available from the Gov.UK website

Housing

 During this period of instability when rules are changing quickly, more than ever it is important to get the right advice about what your options and rights are. Whether this is because you are homeless and have nowhere to stay tonight, or if your landlord has given you notice that you have to move out (also called ‘Notice To Quit’), or if you just want to apply for social housing

Information about your options, including what to do if you are street homeless is also available from the national housing advice charity Shelter. They have a dedicated helpline and a ‘chat online’ service. Further information can be found at the Shelter website

If you are street homeless (sleeping rough), or if you see somebody who is, the organisation ‘Street Link’ can provide information about available support, including details of hostel accommodation. Further details can be found at their website

Further details about your options, including how to apply for assistance from the council if you are homeless or will be soon, and how to challenge a decision that you think is wrong, can be found at the Citizens Advice website

Counselling

If you are currently receiving counselling from one of our counsellors, they will be in touch to discuss the various options with you which will include continuing your counselling over the telephone or by video call. 

If you are new to Positive East and would like to access our counselling services please ring 020 7791 2855 Monday to Friday 10.30am to 5pm or email talktome@positiveeast.org.uk  

Domestic Abuse

If you feel you are in immediate danger call 999.  Domestic violence is against the law. 

Here are some other helpful online resources.  

Volunteering

Volunteering at Positive East

Positive East has a long and established history of people volunteering. This commitment and dedication from our amazing volunteers has enabled the organisation to thrive and develop in its efforts to support people living with HIV. 

In this current climate many of our services are being provided remotely and as a result not all our services can continue to be supported by volunteers. However, we continue to receive offers from existing and new volunteer wishing to give their support. For this reason, we would like to encourage everyone offering their time to organisations currently in great need of volunteers.

If you would like more information about how to get involved with our services please email volunteering@positiveeast.org.uk

Alternatively, please see below links to organisations offering volunteer opportunities in local areas.

Food Chain

Food chain are one of our partner agencies who are looking for: volunteers with cars/driving licenses/bicycles and lots of energy to do shopping for our most vulnerable clients and then deliver it to their homes. Please note Food Chain cannot accept anyone who would need to travel on public transport in order to volunteer.

If you are able to help, please contact: volunteering@foodchain.org.uk

Local Authority Volunteer opportunities:

Health and Wellbeing

Looking after yourself is as important as ever! 

Our  health and wellbeing newsletter

Every week we send out a Health and Wellbeing newsletter with service updates, healthy living suggestions and links to additional support services.  To receive this please subscribe by sending an email to: talktome@postiveeast.org.uk 

You can also view past newsletters by clicking below 

Other helpful health and wellbeing resources

More information coming soon 

Council led support 

More information coming soon 

Supporting us

We are a community run organisation and we are grassroots by definition. Meaning a large proportion of our services are delivered by the community and we are increasingly reliant on the community’s financial support. 

COVID-19 is creating challenges for us to raise the vital funding required to deliver our services.  Nearly 50% of our total income is raised via community donations,  individual gifts, grants, sponsorships and our World AIDS Day RED RUN, Positive Feast and KRUSH.  COVID-19 is also creating unique challenges as to how we deliver our services and your support will allow us to remain flexible and resilient in this time of uncertainty. 

Please consider make a donation to sustain our work. Click here to pledge you support today!

For more information on how to get involved and pledge your support or for more information of sponsorship opportunities please contact: Ian Montgomery, Head of Fundraising and Communications.  

We cannot thank enough those individuals,  organisations, local businesses, trusts funders, corporate supporters and Red Runners who stand with Positive East and have pledged their support especially during these challenging times.  Thank you!