There is no cure for HIV, but very effective treatment is 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.
HIV in PWID
In 2015 there was a sharp increase in the numbers of new cases in people who inject drugs within NHSGGC; over 30 people were diagnosed that year. Prior to this , there had been fewer than 10 cases a year. The outbreak is of international significance as it has occurred despite comprehensive injecting equipment provision.
A key response to the outbreak is a strategy of treatment as prevention; reducing onward transmission through early HIV treatment. The HIV service has been very successful at engaging this population in treatment, but success in preventing further infections also requires comprehensive testing to identify those who have been infected.
It is recommended that clinical colleagues in both primary and secondary care routinely offer an HIV test to all individuals 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.
For further information on the current HIV outbreak in NHSGGC please refer to the News Items section
Last update March 2021