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HIV infections in people who inject drugs - update 2019

There were approximately 165 new reports of HIV in NHSGGC in 2018 and there are over 1800 patients attending the Brownlee Centre for treatment and care.

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 2015 - 2019 (Jun)

In 2015 there was a sharp increase in the numbers of new cases in people who inject drugs.  There have now been over 145 new cases of HIV associated with the outbreak in this community group since the end of 2014.  Prior to this, there were less than 10 new cases a year.

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.  While there has been some success in reducing new incident infections in 2018, there has been on-going transmission in 2019.  We cannot be complacent as there is now a much greater number of individuals living with HIV who have continued risk behaviours and who need to be sustained on treatment.  

See graph for number of new HIV cases PWID/year in NHSGGC 2015-2019

It is recommended that clinical colleagues in both primary and secondary care 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 2019