Street teams to combat Glasgow’s HIV crisis

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Claire Kofman and Louise Carroll. 

On-street support given to drug users as HIV cases increase 

24th September 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A charity is giving Glasgow’s injecting drug users vital on-street support in a bid to tackle the city’s HIV outbreak.                              

Waverley Care’s HIV Street Support Project will work with people in the community to provide access to harm reduction education, HIV testing, and support to address contributing factors including homelessness, addiction and poor mental health.

Since the outbreak began in 2015, 133 people in Glasgow have been diagnosed with HIV, linked to injecting drug use - more than trebling the previous average of 10 per year. An estimated one in five people who regularly inject drugs in public places in the city centre are now living with HIV.

Claire Kofman, Waverley Care senior manager for Glasgow said: “Glasgow’s currently experiencing the biggest outbreak of HIV seen anywhere in the UK since the 1980s. 

“More often than not, the people we really want to reach are isolated from health and social care services that can help them. Our project will take support directly to people on the street, making it as easy as possible for them to access HIV testing and treatment, along with information and advice.

 “At the same time we want to help people address the complex needs that they’re facing in terms of issues like homelessness, poverty, and poor mental health, helping them find the right support so that they can focus on improving their health and wellbeing."

 The Street Support Project, funded by the Big Lottery, will provide intensive, one-to-one support to engage with the most isolated people in this population, delivered by project workers, and a peer support worker with lived experience of addiction and recovery.                          

The project will support clients to access local services and complement actions being taken by Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to address the outbreak, including the establishment of an action group and a move to more community-based services.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, added: “This vulnerable community group often have multiple complex needs which put them at risk of a range of health and social co-morbidities, including HIV and other blood borne viruses.  

“This project will be a valuable addition to the range of interventions that are underway in the city to address the recent HIV outbreak and, by working in partnership with other services, will also contribute to the wider addiction management agenda.”