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New HIV Diagnoses in Scotland

Yesterday, the new HIV Diagnosis Surveillance Report (January-March 2019) was published by Health Protection Scotland. In this blog, we’ll share the key statistics with you and, what these statistics tell us about HIV in Scotland today.

What are the key statistics?

From this surveillance report, the key statistics include:

  • 5,431 people are estimated to be diagnosed HIV positive and living in Scotland:
    • 73% (3,980) are male
    • 27% are female (1,451).
  • 79 new diagnoses were found in this period, that were not previously recorded on HPS:
    • 36 (46%) of which are men who have sex with men
    • 16% were associated with sexual intercourse between men and women
    • 6 (8%) were people who inject drugs
    • 24 (30%) were associated with other or unknown risks (not detailed in the data)
  • Of the 41 first ever HIV diagnoses recorded during the first three months of 2019:
    • the largest proportion (39%) were made in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
    • 15% were recorded in NHS Lanarkshire
    • five or fewer diagnoses were reported by nine other NHS boards
  • Of all those diagnosed HIV positive in Scotland:
    • almost half, or 2,550 (47%), are MSM
    • 2,142 (39%) are heterosexual men and women
    • 485 (9%) are people who use drugs
    • other/unknown risk for 254 remaining people
    • 43% aged between 35 and 49
    • 43% are 50 or over

What do the statistics tell us?
From these statistics, it is clear that Scotland continues to have new HIV diagnosis, with the data showing some population groups at higher risk of transmission. These statistics also tell us that Glasgow’s HIV outbreak is continuing and, many new diagnoses are within an ageing population.

At Waverley Care, we provide support services to people living with or affected by HIV across Scotland and, we deliver specific support services for population groups at higher risk of HIV transmission. In light of these statistics, we asked our staff across Scotland to tell us what implications this data has for our work.

HIV Transmission and Men who have Sex with Men
“In terms of men (including all men who have sex with men) in the last 18 months, we are still seeing new infections across Scotland amongst our community. We need to redouble our efforts to promote access to testing and ensure all men who have sex with men are aware of the strategies they can use to prevent HIV transmission. In Scotland, we are leading the UK in the provision of PrEP, which you can access via your local NHS sexual health clinic. Our SX team provides dedicated support and information for gay, bisexual and all men who have sex with men across Scotland around the sex they have. Our SX website also has a wide range information around sex and tips for men who have sex with men to have pleasurable, consensual and healthy sex.” – Alastair Rose, SX

Supporting People Living with HIV
“Reflecting on these figures, we’ve seen an increase in HIV referrals to our Lothian Support Services in the same period. Often, these referrals are people who need support with their mental health to cope with low mood, depression and suicidal ideation. Increasingly, we are also seeing the effects of social isolation on the mental health of people living with HIV. It’s clear from these figures and our experience supporting people, that we need to make sure services are responsive to the complex needs of people living with HIV, particularly helping them manage their health and wellbeing as they age.” – Allison Murphy, Lothian Community Projects

Glasgow’s HIV Outbreak
“These figures do not fully break down the data people who inject drugs in Glasgow and the outbreak – however, the more localised statistics are very concerning. For the whole of 2018, there were 16 people who inject drugs in Greater Glasgow and Clyde diagnosed with HIV, however to date (January to June 2019) 17 people have been diagnosed (with some these individuals in seroconversion).  This has huge implications for our work as we are a very small team working with people living with HIV, or people at heightened risk of HIV.  This work is extremely resource intensive as the people we are working with are extremely vulnerable and marginalised as a result of poverty, trauma, homelessness, and repeated incarcerations. Knowing these figures, there has to be a greater focus on testing, harm reduction, and collaborative working between organisations looking at the wider health and social needs of people who inject drugs at risk of, or living with, HIV.

Our HIV Street Support Project have been prioritising Rapid HIV Testing and promoting harm reduction through assertive outreach, including carrying One Hit Kits, Foils and condoms/femidoms. Our work is focussed on reaching out to people living with/at risk of HIV who are homeless or in temporary accommodation. We provided one to one support helping people attend clinic and hospital appointments, as well as around a wide range of identified health and social issues. Moving forward we aim to have a greater focus on tracing people living with HIV,  who have chaotic lifestyles and are not engaged in any services, to enable and empower them to engage in treatment. The project will also continue to develop its work from a gendered perspective, especially as women have been disproportionately affected in comparison to other outbreaks.” – Mhairi McKean, HIV Street Support Project

If you would like to know more about our work across Scotland, you can contact us at

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