Lots of people have been lonely and sexually frustrated during lock down, but social distancing is having a positive effect on HIV infection rates.

According to 56 Dean Street – one of the leading sexual health clinics in Europe – HIV transmissions have plummeted over the past few weeks. In an online statement, it said that ‘Covid-19 presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity in the fight against HIV. The Soho-based clinic is now calling for people to order a free at-home testing kit. By knowing your status, you can play an informed role in keeping transmission rates down and beating HIV once and for all.

‘In the last few weeks, HIV transmission has dropped dramatically. Because there are fewer people having sex, fewer people are catching HIV.’ When someone first catches HIV, it explained, they’re ‘super infectious’ and way more likely to spread the virus to other people. However, as so many newly infected people are staying at home at the moment, they’re not able to unknowingly spread the STI to others.

Dr Alan McGowan from the clinic explained that because it tends to take a little bit of time for HIV to show up in tests, now is the perfect time to get tested. People won’t have had sex for a while, so ‘the vast majority of people who have HIV can be picked up with a test’. The clinic, whose mission is to get HIV transmission to zero, is urging people to order a home HIV test before the lockdown ends so that by the time we can re-emerge, there’ll be very little undetected HIV left circulating. ‘We’re only going to get this chance once,’ Dr McGowan stressed. ‘I’m not asking only to test yourself, but encourage every other gay man you know to test as well.’