People who inject drugs in public places in Scotland are much more likely to have HIV or hepatitis C and are at higher risk of overdose and skin and soft tissue infections caused by injecting, a survey of drug users has found. Scottish investigators say that their findings provide strong evidence in support of providing safer drug consumption facilities to prevent further drug-related harm.
Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, has been affected by a major outbreak of HIV among people who inject drugs since 2014. The outbreak was detected in 2015 and by November 2018, 119 people had been diagnosed with HIV. HIV prevalence among the city’s injecting drug users increased from just over 1% in 2011 – among the lowest in the world – to 10.8% in 2018.
Scottish harm reduction experts and drug users have advocated the adoption of safer injecting facilities like those opened in Switzerland and Vancouver, Canada. As well as providing a space for supervised injecting with sterile injecting equipment to prevent overdose and blood-borne virus transmission, facilities can also offer health care for drug users, testing for HIV and hepatitis C and linkage to treatment.
Source: Keith Alcorn, NAM Aidsmap, 17th February 2020