There is no cure for HIV, but very effective treatment is now available which, if taken as prescribed, means HIV can be considered a long-term condition. Adhering to treatment not only means an individual can live a healthy life, it can also stop the onward spread of HIV. This is known as Treatment as Prevention – HIV treatment reduces the individual’s viral load to undetectable levels so that they cannot pass on the virus to others.
A significant proportion of the new HIV reports in 2017 – nearly 30% - are amongst People who Inject Drugs. There are now 121 new cases of HIV associated with the outbreak in this community group since the end of 2014. Interventions to limit further transmission continue, including outreach treatment services, community prescribing of HIV medication and importantly a sustained focus on testing those at risk.
The majority of the cases – 42% - were diagnosed in the acute setting when they presented with unrelated illnesses.
It is recommended that clinical colleagues in both primary and secondary care should routinely offer an HIV test to all patients with a history of drug addiction problems when they present for health care.
NB: If the patient has had a negative test within the last 3 months but has continued risk a repeat test should be offered. All trained healthcare workers can conduct an HIV test - all that is required is informed consent, which does not usually need a lengthy discussion.
As there is significant overlap in the routes of acquiring HIV and hepatitis C, clinicians should consider testing for both if the BBV status is not known.
Training and support for HIV/BBV testing can be obtained from community sexual health adviser in the STI/BBV shared care initiative on 0141 211 8639.
Last update June 2018