PIF member the Terrence Higgins Trust has welcomed an update to Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) guidance on HIV. 

The update follows collaborative work with Terrence Higgins Trust and the British HIV Association (BHIVA).

The aim was to make the guidance far clearer and ensure DVLA requirements for driver licensing are accurate, medically necessary and do not perpetuate HIV-related stigma.

Dr Kate Nambiar, medical director of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "We are determined to remove the unnecessary barriers affecting people living with HIV, which are hangovers from when living with HIV was very different. 

"We thank the DVLA for working with us so collaboratively to update the language used around HIV and get rid of restrictions which had no reason to exist. 

"These changes send a clear message that HIV has changed and policies and procedures need to reflect the reality of HIV today."

Changes to DVLA guidance

Drivers do not need to notify the DVLA if they have HIV.

However, until this week, someone living with HIV was required to tell the DVLA if they ‘have AIDS’ – meaning an AIDS-defining illness.

Drivers who failed to notify the DVLA of this could be fined £1,000.

Most people living with HIV in the UK are accessing highly effective treatment. This means they will never have an AIDS-defining illness in the future.

The new rules clearly state when someone living with HIV needs to contact the DVLA. This is when:

  • The individual has been advised by a healthcare professional that they must inform the DVLA about a specific medical condition
  • The individual develops any medical condition that may impact their ability to drive

These are listed on a new page on the DVLA’s website called ‘HIV and driving’, replacing two separate pages on HIV and AIDS.

DVLA guidance for medical professionals has also been updated to be more specific about the circumstances which may affect safe driving based on the latest evidence.

This includes clarity that if there has been no development of an AIDS defining illness affecting the brain, or vision, or a physical disability which may impair the ability to drive, people with HIV may drive and do not need to inform DVLA.

The People First Charter

The People First Charter promotes ‘person first’ language around HIV and sexual health.

It highlights the role of language in perpetuating stigma and discrimination. 

The DVLA’s changes include moving away from the term "AIDS" to "advanced HIV" and removing language like "HIV infection not advanced" to "living with HIV and receiving treatment".

The changes follow an approach by Terrence Higgins Trust.

The charity was concerned about the DVLA’s use of terms such as AIDS when medical terminology has been updated to reflect the impact of the transformative treatment now available. 

It was also unclear which AIDS-defining illnesses were being referred to.

Read more about the changes to HIV guidance for drivers here.