Home Health Cocaine and homeless injection "behind the increase in Glasgow HIV"

Cocaine and homeless injection "behind the increase in Glasgow HIV"

Discarded syringes

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Between 2015 and 2017, over 100 new HIV cases were identified among drug addicts in central Glasgow

An increase in cocaine and homeless injections is behind a 10-fold increase in HIV infection among drug addicts in Glasgow, the research suggests.

The Glasgow city center epidemic is the largest in the UK in over 30 years.

The study, conducted between 2011 and 2018, involved nearly 4,000 people who injected drugs in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Between 2015 and 2017, over 100 new HIV cases were identified among drug addicts in the city.

Prior to this, the number of new cases among drug users across Scotland had "remained stable" at around 15 per year.

Scientists at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) stated that a seven-year study showed that the increase in injections and homelessness were key factors in the production of "a perfect HIV storm".

The dott. Andrew McAuley, senior researcher of blood borne viruses at GCU, stated that "there has been an extremely significant increase in the prevalence of HIV infection in the population of drug users in Glasgow".

He said this was "largely driven by an HIV epidemic first detected in 2015".

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There have been requests for safe "fixed rooms" to install

Dr. McAuley also said that the study, published in the Lancet HIV medical journal, supported those who support the creation of a safe room for drug use in central Glasgow.

He indicated more than nine out of 10 people diagnosed with HIV who are successfully engaged in treatment.

The dott. McAuley said: "The prevalence of HIV has been low and stable in this population after the major HIV outbreaks in the 1980s in Edinburgh and Dundee.

"However, the prevalence of HIV in Glasgow has increased 10-fold among people who use drugs in the last seven years, from just 1% to over 10% in the city center.

"The key factors for infection are an increase in cocaine and homeless injection.

"We also have a large population of people who inject themselves into public places in Glasgow at a time when HIV has resurfaced.

"A combination of these factors has created a perfect storm for rapid transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs in Glasgow."

Heroin treatment

The research, conducted in collaboration with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the University of Western Scotland, found that the number of drug addicts with HIV increased from one in 87 in 2011-12 to 25 out of 231 in 2017-18.

The proportion of infected users increased from 1.1% to 10.8%.

The HIV epidemic in Glasgow has occurred "despite the existence of a global harm reduction environment," the research noted.

He pointed out that over a million clean needles and syringes are distributed every year among drug injectors.

The dott. McAuley said the research "provides additional justification for interventions such as the proposed drug use hall and heroin treatment services in Glasgow."

He added: "Basically, over 90% of people diagnosed as part of the epidemic have been successfully involved in the treatment of HIV as a result of the multidisciplinary response implemented by the health council."

The partnership for health and social welfare in Glasgow (HSCP), which supports the opening of a "safe" injection room, welcomed the results of the study.

Susanne Millar, the body's chief officer for strategy and operations, said she provided "more credible evidence to look beyond current methods to help this very vulnerable group."

He added: "We plan to open a facility for the treatment of heroin in Glasgow at the end of the year, which will also benefit the users of heroin who inject cocaine, one of the groups most at risk of transmitting HIV" .

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