HIV Malta and Checkpoint Malta are receiving various messages from individuals who are living with HIV and have become stuck in Malta due to travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The advice as at 16th March 2020 is that people who are not based in Malta and are currently quarantined, and who do not have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 should start making arrangements to return home. A tourism helpline has been set up on +356 21692447 in order to help people return to their home country. Foreign nationals are also being advised to contact their respective embassies especially if flights are currently not operational. Embassies are currently arranging flights to the respective countries and they will be handling the paperwork related to the repatriation efforts.
Transport to the Malta International Airport is being offered via a special Airport Transfer service. Please note that there could be a cost associated to the trip back home.
We would like to emphasise that HIV medication is not being sold. It is a priority that HIV medication is not interrupted in order to maintain an undetectable state. It is not safe to remain in Malta without access to HIV medication. We would like to emphasise that this does not apply to people who already procure their medication from Mater Dei. We have received a confirmation that regular appointments for people living with HIV are still being held, however please be aware that the situation is being monitored week by week.
Meanwhile we would like to remind people that the British HIV Association, and local consultants have emphasised that there is no evidence that people with HIV are at higher risk of COVID-19, or severe disease if affected, and no evidence regarding the impact of viral load or CD4 on either of these. We will reiterate our appeal to follow Government’s advice at all times, and which are being updated from time to time.
Finally we would like to offer our heartfelt gratitude to all healthcare workers including those who work amongst those living with HIV for their efforts.