Waverley Care HIV Street Support Team – 3 months on…
The following blog post was written by Mhairi McKean, HIV Street Support Project Manager.
Well it’s hard to believe that the HIV Street Support Project has been running for three months, although in some ways it feels like we have been here forever. This has been an exciting three months with a new team coming into post (Mhairi, Sam and Davie), the development of new initiatives with plans for the future already starting to take shape. So what have been some of the key developments so far?
At the beginning of the year, we piloted a two-week testing initiative, in partnership with the Glasgow Harm Reduction Group, where we located ourselves in communities where there have been recent diagnosis of HIV connected to the wider Glasgow HIV outbreak. DBS (Dry Blood Spot) testing was carried out in an area in the pharmacy close to where people accessed their ORT (Opiate Replacement Therapy) or needle exchange services. People were extremely responsive, with 43 people participating in the pilot over the two weeks. Throughout the pilot, our team at the HIV Street Support Project continued to carry out harm reduction work, raising awareness about the HIV outbreak, hepatitis C and the role of our work in making sure people get the care and support they need. Anecdotal evidence has also been gathered from people our project has worked with, highlighting the need to address a wide range of issues such as poverty, addiction and mental health.
Our team in the HIV Street Support Project have been working hard on developing strong working partnerships across Glasgow, highlights of which include:
- Working in partnership with BBV (Blood Borne Virus) nurses from Brownlee Centre in Gartnavel General Hospital, to expand the HIV Street Support Service and jointly offer assertive outreach programmes including POC (Point of Care) Testing
- The development of joint working with Terrence Higgins Trust and Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) in offering an on call service for their POC Testing on Tuesday evenings for anyone who injects drugs and has a reactive test
- Participation in the facilitation of SDF City Centre Engagement Group
- Joint working with hepatitis C Support Services, carrying out POC and DBS testing in the Simon Community Hub and East House Lodging Mission
The project has already received individual referrals but the main challenge has been trying to reach people when they have disengaged from services. This has meant, in literal terms, that the team have been walking around Glasgow city centre trying to find people so that we can offer them support them in addressing the barriers they are facing.
Lastly, Davie, Sam and I would like to thank everyone including partners and colleagues for being so supportive and in welcoming our project. This has made a huge difference to our work and we look forward to strengthening these relationships as we move forward with this exciting project.
We would also like to give a big thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund for making a difference in our communities.