Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

London edition (PDF 1.59MB) DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Scottish edition (PDF 1.45MB) DOWNLOAD ISSUE


Drug users warned as new HIV cases come to light

March 06 2012
HIV and drug advice organisations issue safety advice after a recent spike in numbers 


Drug users who inject are being warned by health chiefs to be extra cautious after six new HIV cases were diagnosed in Glasgow in the last two months.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is strongly urging addicts to seek help, get tested and avoid sharing needles.

Glasgow typically sees five to 10 new intravenous drug use-related HIV diagnoses a year. Public health consultant, Eleanor Anderson, said: “It is important for injecting drug users to engage with the wide range of services we offer designed to help them tackle their addictions.

“However, for those who continue to inject we remind them to take all the safety precautions necessary to protect themselves and others.”

In 2010 there were 280 new HIV diagnoses in Scotland, with the majority of instances being sexually transmitted. Health Protection Scotland estimates that around 4,000 people in the country have been diagnosed as HIV-positive.

The Scottish Government states that although figures are high, more people are living with HIV than ever before because of increased testing and earlier diagnosis.

To reduce the risk of infection associated with injecting drugs, the Scottish Drugs Forum advise all users to use new equipment and never to share needles, syringes, cookers, spoons or other ‘works’ with other drug users.

They also recommend washing hands before preparing equipment and ensuring preparation surfaces are clean. Additionally, for the consideration of others, any used equipment should be disposed of properly in a designated sharps bin.

Providing further advice on available testing and treatment, a spokesman from HIV Scotland said: “The only way to know if you have HIV is to take a test.

“Testing and treatment are free and confidential at your GP or local sexual health clinic. If you think you might have been at risk, or it has been a while since you were tested, go for a test.”

Testing is confidential, as are the results, and if a doctor needs to tell someone else, they will discuss this with the patient first. The latest HIV tests look for both HIV antibodies and the actual HIV particles in the blood, meaning that HIV can sometimes be found as early as three weeks after it has entered the body.