Glasgow is facing the biggest HIV outbreak since 1980s

Published

Isabel Thomas
News Editor

This outbreak has been linked with an increase in cocaine-injecting and homelessness in Glasgow

Glasgow city centre is facing the UK’s largest HIV outbreak in over 30 years. A new study has suggested that this spike is linked to the rise in homelessness and people increasingly injecting cocaine in the city.

This study was conducted between 2011 and 2018 and involved almost 4,000 people who inject drugs in Greater Glasgow and Clyde areas. The study shows that cases of HIV remained relatively stable until 2015. Between 2015 and 2017 more than 100 new cases of HIV were identified amongst drug users in the city.

Lead author of the report, Dr Andrew McAuley of Glasgow Caledonian University, said “The prevalence of HIV has been low and stable in this population since major outbreaks of HIV in the 1980s in Edinburgh and Dundee.

“However, the prevalence of HIV in Glasgow has increased 10-fold among people who inject drugs in the past seven years, from just 1 per cent to over 10 per cent in the city centre. The key drivers of infection are an increase in cocaine injecting, and homelessness.”

He added, “A combination of these factors has created a perfect storm for rapid transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs in Glasgow.”

Dr McAuley also said that the findings support the need for a safe drug-consumption room in Glasgow city centre. The setting up of this facility has been something which councillors have campaigned for but has been rejected by the Home Office.

Joe FitzPatrick, the Scottish government’s public health minister, said “We support Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership’s proposals to introduce a secure, medically supervised consumption facility.

“We must be willing to back innovative, evidence-based approaches that can make a real difference to people’s lives.”