Glasgow HIV outbreak “coming under control”

“No room for complacency” and safe injection room would “save lives”, MSPs told

Wednesday 1st May 2019

Scotland’s Public Health Minister, Joe FitzPatrick, today said a HIV outbreak among people injecting drugs is “coming under control” as he claimed a safe injection room for drug users in Glasgow would “save lives”.

It comes after a Glasgow Caledonian University study published last month said a combination of cocaine injecting doubling and rising homelessness had created a ‘perfect storm’ for an outbreak of the blood-borne virus in 2015.

Researchers found the number of HIV cases in the city exploded ten-fold to 100 between 2015 and 2017.

Local politicians and the Scottish Government have been urging the Home Office to amend the law to allow a safe consumption facility to be established but have so far been rebuffed.

Speaking today in Holyrood, the Dundee MSP said: “The most recent figures published yesterday suggests that the outbreak is coming under control but there is no room for complacency. Prevention of HIV transmission remains a clear priority for the Scottish Government.”

Responding to a question from Anas Sarwar, a Labour Glasgow MSP, he continued: “The member is right to talk about a safe consumption facility – it’s an evidence-based proposal which will make a difference and save lives.

“Again, I have to emphasise if the UK Government are not prepared to take action that would save lives here in Scotland then they should transfer the powers to this parliament where we can make those decisions to save those lives in Glasgow and across Scotland.”

In March, the head of the Scottish Drugs Forum told supervised consumption rooms were “only be part of a range of services that are needed” to address the “tragedy” of drugs deaths.