HIV outbreak continues but hope for those diagnosed on World AIDS Day 

By Lucy Ashton

On World AIDS Day, local Health Board Health and Social Care staff continue to focus efforts on the ongoing HIV outbreak in Glasgow through treatment and new initiatives.

Now in its third year, what started as an outbreak in the city centre of Glasgow among people who are homeless has now spread to other areas and into the wider population of people who inject drugs.

There are currently 1800 patients being treated for HIV/AIDS across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In Glasgow City Centre, a new harm reduction initiative that started in September has resulted in approximately 400 people coming forward for assessment of their injection risks, including risk of HIV. The initiative, WAND (Wound care, Assessment of injection practice, Naloxone provision and Dried blood spot testing) encourages people at risk of blood borne viruses to come forward for repeat testing every three months.

Leading Glasgow HIV specialist Dr Roger Wong comments on what has been a challenging year for people living with HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day.

Dr Roger Wong, Clinical Coordinator and Psychiatrist at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Brownlee Centre for Infectious Diseases, commented:

“It has been a challenging year for our patients but we are proud to have continued to treat people with HIV/AIDS throughout the pandemic. This has been thanks to the amazing teamwork at the Brownlee and their hard work to continue to serve our patients.

“We have been mindful many of our patients living with AIDS have struggled with their mental health and social isolation during the pandemic, with some having had to shield due to their weakened immune system. We’ve been reaching out to patients as much as we can, including by phone and through video, to ensure they are supported.

“As we look ahead on World AIDS day, I am hopeful that treatment for HIV will continue to improve. Most of our patients are on treatment that can be as simple as taking one tablet a day to suppress the virus and maintain a healthy immune system. We are now looking forward to potential treatment through long acting injections, which would be less frequent for those who aren’t able to take a tablet every day.”

Susanne Millar, Chief Officer, Glasgow HSCP, said:  “On World AIDS Day, we are proud to highlight the work we are doing in Glasgow to reduce the harm of HIV/AIDS. Our harm reduction work is based on a partnership approach across a range of stakeholders. As a result, we have been able to increase the number of tests and identification of cases of HIV in the community. We continue to urge anyone who think they may be at risk to come forward for testing and support.”

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