HIV services

Our HIV service delivers specialist care to adults (over 16 years old) living with HIV infection.

That services do we provide?

  • Routine care, treatment and monitoring of HIV infection
  • Management of HIV related opportunistic infections including inpatient ward consults
  • Specialist HIV pharmaceutical advice and medicines information
  • HIV homecare delivery scheme
  • Joint specialist antenatal care
  • Psychological support for patients living with HIV

How can I access the service?

If you are over the age of 16 and are known to be HIV positive you can refer yourself by contacting us directly. You can also be referred to us by your GP or other healthcare professionals.

If you would like to transfer your HIV care to us please telephone directly on the contact details below. We will request a transfer of care summary from your previous HIV care provider including information about what medications you currently take, other health conditions, and most recent blood test results.

Your appointment

To book, change, or cancel your appointments please email us on the email address above with your request and our team will get back to you within seven working days. If it is urgent, or your appointment is within seven days, please telephone us instead. It is important that you tell us if you are unable to attend your appointment, this will allow that appointment to be offered to another patient. Please attend your appointment on time to ensure that we are able to see you on the day.

Sexual health screening and vaccinations

Sexual health screening is offered to all of our registered patients as part of our routine tests.

Where appropriate, we also offer vaccination for HPV, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

Pharmacy and prescriptions

We have a specialist pharmacist in our clinic who can provide you with the information and support you need to take your medicines regularly. If you need support with your medicines please contact the clinic and ask to be booked into our pharmacy clinic.

Please note that some medicines may interact with your HIV medication. These may include medications prescribed by other healthcare professionals, herbal remedies, over the counter medication, and recreational drugs. We can provide advice on drug interactions, side effects, and medication adherence.

Prescriptions are normally produced either when you attend your clinic appointment, or when your blood test results are ready. You can opt to collect your medicines from the department or have them delivered by a home delivery service.

We usually require 2 weeks’ notice to prepare your medication. If you are running out please email us on the email address below to let us know. If you have less than 2 weeks of medication left then please telephone us and we will try and arrange an emergency (short-term) prescription.

Medication home delivery service

We offer a home delivery service to patients who are settled on their HIV treatment regime and take their medicines regularly. The delivery will usually contain a minimum of 3 months’ of medication. The service is provided by an external company commissioned by the Trust to deliver your medications in discreet packaging to your door. There will not be any identifying marks as to what is inside the package. If you are interested in this service please ask your doctor when you are next attend your clinic.

It is very important that you do not miss doses of your medication. If you are running out, please contact the clinic to inform us of this giving at least 5 days notice but preferably 2 weeks notice.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Our service is open and safe to attend. If you have been invited for a face-to-face appointment, it is important that you still attend.

We have put measures in place to make sure the Rosehill clinic is a safe environment, and social distancing is maintained at all times. Staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and you will be requested to wear a face mask and to sanitise your hands when you arrive at the hospital.

HIV and COVID-19 vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people living with HIV. If you have not yet received it please discuss this with your HIV doctor or your GP.  You will also be offered a booster or a 3rd dose plus booster when appropriate.

Visit https://www.bhiva.org/ for more information on living with HIV and the COVID-19 vaccine.

The pneumococcal and annual flu vaccines are also recommended. These are available free from your GP. The flu vaccine may also be obtained from participating community pharmacies.

Information about your records

The Rosehill Clinic, as part of Sutton Health & Care, partners with Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust (ESTH) for many services including blood tests, prescriptions and X-rays/scans, inpatient admissions and specialist referrals.

Please note that notes, prescriptions and blood tests by the Rosehill clinic may be visible to certain members of other ESTH departments who are seeing you for medical care at ESTH (for example if you attend ESTH Accident and Emergency, ESTH outpatients or are admitted as an inpatient). This is important to prevent you being given medication that may interact with your HIV medicine. Your information will remain confidential and will only be seen by those who need to see it in order to provide you with the best possible care.

How to contact us 

Clinic address

Rosehill clinic
Block B, 1st floor
St Helier Hospital
Wrythe Lane
Carshalton SM5 1AA

Telephone: 020 8296 3921
Email: esth.rhcspecialistteam@nhs.net

 

For medication requests, please use the following email address: 

esth.rosehillclinic-prescriptions@nhs.net

Please email our admin team with your:

Patient number (if you know it)
Date of birth
Initials
Reason for contacting us

Please note that email communication may not be secure.

If you are feeling unwell, worried about symptoms or wish to discuss a change of treatment, let us know and we will arrange an appointment. Urgent out of hours services are provided by the infectious diseases team at St George’s hospital. They can be reached via switchboard.

HIV antibody test

When someone picks up HIV, their blood will react to the virus and make chemicals called antibodies, usually within four weeks.

The HIV test involves taking a small sample of blood and then testing for these antibodies in the laboratory or doing a finger prick test.

If the antibodies are found, the result will say that the person is HIV (antibody) positive. This means the person has got HIV.

If no antibodies are found, the result will say HIV (antibody) negative. This means the person had not picked up HIV in all their life up until four weeks before the time they took the test. Everyone who attends The Rosehill Clinic is offered an HIV test.

How to get the result

It normally takes up to 4 working days for the HIV result to come in. Your results can be sent to you by text  or will be passed on to you by a health adviser.

If the result is negative

If you have had unprotected sex in the last four weeks, then there is a chance you could have HIV, even though the result is negative.

This is because you could have picked up HIV but there was not enough time for the antibodies to appear by the time you took the test.

If the result is positive

In this case we will need to do further tests to confirm the result, as well as starting some investigations, including measuring the number of CD4 cells and the amount of HIV in the person's blood - the HIV viral load.

If the result is 'equivocal'

Rarely the laboratory will tell us that the results do not clearly say whether the test is positive or negative. In this case we will need to do further blood tests to try to clarify the situation.

Confidentiality

Your clinic notes are protected by the NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trusts (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) Directions 2000 (England). Information is not given to anyone outside the clinic without consent except in exceptional circumstances. If you test HIV antibody positive it is your choice whom you inform and when.

What about life insurance and mortgages?

The Association of British Insurers recommends its member companies not to ask, when someone is applying for life insurance, if he/she has had an HIV test, but only to inquire if someone knows they are HIV positive. Thus most people who have had a test and are negative will be able to truthfully answer, 'No', without saying whether they have had a test or not.

Is there a charge for having a test?

If the test is being done for individual health reasons it is completely free, but we do not issue a written copy of the result.

However, we make a charge if the test is for 'official reasons', and you ask us to provide a letter or certificate. This might be to support an application for a travel visa, occupational risks or life insurance, or if it has been requested by a private health doctor.

The HIV care pathway

If you are 'HIV positive' this doesn't necessarily mean that you are ill.

HIV slowly attacks the immune system, which is the body's natural defence system against infections. If the immune system is weak, there is a risk of getting ill from different infections.

You will be started on medication at one of your first appointments. This will stop HIV reproducing, and so limit the damage to the immune system.

My test is positive

If you are given an HIV positive result, you will:

  • Have a discussion with a health adviser where any questions you have will be addressed. You will be given reassurance and information, and we will also tell you how your care from this point will continue.
  • If you feel able to cope on that day, you will also meet the HIV nurses who can offer further information, reassurances and who will take some baseline blood tests so we can assess your general health.
  • You will be given an appointment in two weeks’ time to see a doctor. At the appointment, your doctor will discuss your blood test results, perform a general examination and discuss starting treatment.
  • You will also see the HIV pharmacist who will discuss the treatment in more detail.

Keeping an eye on your health

From someone's physical appearance, you can't tell if they have HIV or not. And you can't always know how good their health is.

But blood tests can show how HIV is affecting your health. Even if you're not taking treatments, it's important to have two blood tests done regularly.

The first is called the CD4 count and is a measure of the strength of your immune system. When the immune system is strong, the CD4 count is higher.

The second is the viral load test. It's a measure of the number of copies of HIV in a sample of blood. The lower it is the better.

Do I need to take treatments?

The drugs used to treat HIV are often called 'combination therapy'. That's because people usually take a combination of three drugs at the same time.

We recommend that everyone who has HIV starts taking combination therapy straightaway regardless of their CD4 or viral load.

If we find that your CD4 is less than 200, you will be given some antibiotics to protect you from a serious chest infection.

Importantly, we need to monitor you regularly - whether you are on treatment or not - and it is essential that you attend further appointments.

Services for HIV Positive people

Doctors

Medical needs vary for different people at different times. The doctor who sees you can provide:

  • More information about HIV and current recommendations for follow-up and treatment.
  • A full medical assessment including history, examination, routine blood tests and any other investigations required.
  • Explain the results of your tests and advise you on the most appropriate action and follow-up.
  • Discuss the possible options for starting or changing anti-HIV therapy.
  • Provide practical support to minimize side effects and help adherence to treatment regimes.
  • Assess any problems that arise which may be related to HIV or HIV treatments.
  • Sexual health screening and advice.
  • Arrange appropriate referral to other specialists.
  • Arrange inpatient care for investigation and treatment if this is required.

The doctors work closely with the other clinical staff so you should feel free to approach any staff member if you have any medical concerns.

Pharmacist

The HIV pharmacist works closely with your doctor and routinely sees people for medical and practical information about HIV and anti-HIV treatment. They can discuss the possible options when starting or changing anti-HIV therapy and provide practical support to minimise any side effects and help adherence to treatment regimes. They have a wide range of resources to help support people in taking their medication.

Health advisers

The health advisers see:

  • All newly diagnosed clients
  • New clients transferring their care to the clinic

They are able to provide health advice on issues such as lifestyles and safer sex. There are many organisations providing services and information for people affected by HIV. The health advisers can assist you in finding the most appropriate service for your needs.

The health advisers can also provide support and information to partners, family members and friends of HIV positive clients.

Living with HIV can be both emotionally and physically demanding. If appropriate they can refer you to the clinic's Clinical Psychologist, or re-assess your needs whenever things are difficult.

HIV nurse practitioner and nurses

The HIV nurses routinely see patients requiring:

  • Blood tests, eg CD4 and viral load tests
  • Routine assessments, eg sexual health screening
  • Hepatitis vaccination
  • To collect/arrange medication

They will advise about all practical aspects of HIV management and answer any queries you have in relation to your care, as well as liaising with other team members. If your condition is stable you may have some of your regular monitoring and check-ups done by the HIV nurses rather than the doctor.

Clinical psychologist

If you are feeling upset, anxious or depressed, talk to your doctor, nurse or health adviser about seeing the clinical psychologist. The clinical psychologist will arrange a time to meet with you and talk about the difficulties that you are having.

The clinical psychologist can help by offering guidance and advice on ways for you to tackle the problems that you are having. 

Access to services

There is normally someone available to answer the clinic telephones Monday to Friday 10am - 4pm. However sometimes answer machines are in use in busy clinic sessions or if staff are seeing patients.

For the latest clinic information, please visit https://www.suttonhealthandcare.nhs.uk/ (opens in a new window).

Access to medical care at the clinic

Routine HIV appointments are available by appointment only. If you wish to arrange an appointment then remember to ask for an "HIV appointment" as this will ensure the correct doctor sees you.

If you have an urgent problem then telephone the clinic on 020 8296 3921 and ask to speak to the HIV nurse or a health adviser.

Out-of-hours

For non-urgent problems contact your GP or the clinic at St Helier Hospital on the next working day.

If you need urgent medical advice when the clinic is closed you should contact your GP, or attend your local accident and emergency department. They can contact the on call HIV team if necessary.

Inpatient care

Inpatient facilities for HIV related care are provided by the Clinical Infections Unit at St Georges Hospital, Tooting. If inpatient care is necessary either for further investigations or treatment, then your doctor will arrange admission. The clinic team will liaise closely with the doctors on the ward to co-ordinate your care.

Links to useful websites

The Terrence Higgins Trust provides loads of patient info, advocacy and support.

NAM provides up to the minute info on all aspects of treatment and care.

https://www.bhiva.org/patient-specific

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