Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Human immunodeficiency virus and drug misuse: the Edinburgh experience.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 15 August 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:421
  1. R P Brettle,
  2. K Bisset,
  3. S Burns,
  4. J Davidson,
  5. S J Davidson,
  6. J M Gray,
  7. J M Inglis,
  8. J S Lees,
  9. J Mok
  1. City Hospital, Edinburgh.


    During 1985 many drug abusers who lived in Edinburgh were found to be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). As a result an alternative counselling and screening clinic for testing for antibodies to HIV was established for use by drug abusers. Four hundred and forty one patients were counselled in the first year, and over 60% were either drug abusers or their sexual contacts. One hundred and fourteen (26%) patients were positive for HIV antibody, and 100 (88%) of these were current or former drug abusers. The HIV seropositivity rate in drug abusers was 52% but was only 7% in their sexual contacts. Services were provided for these people as well as counselling before and after the test. The cost of this counselling service for the first year was 27,000 pounds or 61.22 pounds per patient. The unexpected mobility of 23% of the Edinburgh drug abusers, particularly to other areas of Britain, suggests that similar services need to be set up elsewhere.