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Lockdown: Sex ban could ‘break the chain’ of HIV infections, according to sexual health charity

One in eight people have abstained from sex outside of their household during the pandemic

Olivia Petter
Thursday 11 June 2020 15:26 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The coronavirus outbreak could put an end to the transmission of HIV in the UK, according to research conducted by a sexual health charity.

On Thursday, a survey of 800 people in the UK was published by HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust and sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street.

It found that one in eight (16 per cent) of Britons had abstained from sex with anyone outside of their household.

On Monday, the government introduced new laws in England that made it illegal for couples who live in different homes to have sex indoors and stay overnight.

The Health Protection Regulations previously banned people leaving home without “reasonable excuse”, but the provision has been replaced by stringent curbs on where people can sleep and gather together.

As a result, the Terrence Higgins Trust says the UK could see a huge reduction in the number of HIV transmissions, bringing the nation closer to the government’s goal of ending new cases for good by 2030.

Prior to lockdown, the survey found that 42 per cent of people would have one sexual partner a month while 35 per cent would have between two and five partners a month. 

Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “This is an incredible opportunity to break the chain on HIV infection and help move us further forward in achieving our goal of ending HIV transmissions in the UK within the next decade.”

The organisation is urging people to get tested for HIV during lockdown using at-home tests.

“It’s estimated that around 7,500 people in the UK are living with undiagnosed HIV, which is bad for their health and means they may unwittingly pass it on,” Mr Green added. “If everyone is able to use their time in lockdown to get tested and know their HIV status, we can ensure something really good comes out of the devastation of the Covid crisis.”

To find out more about getting an at-home HIV test, visit 56 Dean Street’s Test Now, Stop HIV website.

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