The NHS has bought a mobile needle exchange for heroin addicts to use in a bid to halt an “uncontained HIV outbreak” in Scotland’s largest city.
It is estimated that one-in-five people who inject drugs in public places in Glasgow are now infected with the incurable virus that attacks the immune system and can lead to Aids.
NHS figures obtained by the Sunday Herald show there has been 117 new HIV cases among an estimated 400 to 500 people who inject drugs publicly in Glasgow since 2015.
Access to clean needles can prevent transmission, but Scotland’s busiest needle exchange in Glasgow Central Station – which operated between 7am and midnight –was closed in September last year by Network Rail, which manages the transport hub, after a drug user died of an overdose in the public toilets.
NHS figures show a sharp fall in the number of clean needles issued to drug users in Glasgow after the facility closed.
The NHS has now invested £50,000 in a “mobile injecting equipment van” which will also offer HIV tests to heroin addicts.
Great idea, though I suspect that this will barely scratch the surface of this problem – no pun intended!.
Secure sharps bins should be widely available in recognised drug hotspots, and needle exchange schemes applied in every town, perhaps though high street pharmacies to save costs.