SHIVAG conference 2017

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Tuesday 12th September 2017

This year’s SHIVAG conference featured lively discussion on improving testing for key populations, criminal justice in the U=U era (undetectable equals untransmittable) and an update on PrEP since its roll out in July 2017. The conference brought together individuals working in the HIV sector in Scotland to share best practice and discuss the latest advancements in HIV science.

The day also included updates on recent BHIVA guidelines on vaccinations, I.D. testing in general medical wards in Aberdeen and vaccine uptake in people living with HIV attending the Infectious Diseases Unit in Edinburgh.

The day started with a presentation from Dr Lesley Wallace from Health Protection Scotland on HIV infections in Scotland. The data illustrated that new infections among men who have sex with men had decreased, with new infections in heterosexual people and people who inject drugs remaining stable. The presentation lead to a discussion on how we can improve testing, and decrease late diagnosis.

Dr Oliver Koch presented on how to use BHIVA guidelines in real world situations. Dr Koch raised potential issues that may arise when vaccinating people living with HIV. Dr Renos Ioannou highlighted influenza, pneumococcal and Hep B immunisation uptake in people living with HIV. This was followed by Dr Jamie Smyth and Dr Kostas Petridis presenting their research with Dr Manjul Medhi and Dr William Gardiner on HIV testing in Aberdeen. They audited testing both in infectious disease wards and general medical wards, and found that there is minimal testing for HIV on general medical wards and only 53% of patients with indicator illnesses are tested on the infectious disease ward.

A panel of experts led the criminal justice sessions including a person living with HIV, representatives from Police Scotland and HIV Scotland, the medical director of Terrence Higgins Trust, and a legal scholar from University of Edinburgh. The panel discussed the impact of U=U, highlighting the strong data that demonstrates when a person had an undetectable viral load, they cannot pass on the virus. The session raised a number of interesting questions about the changing relationship between criminal justice and HIV in Scotland.

The day finished with presentations from Dr Rak Nandwani and Dr Dan Clutterbuck on PrEP. Dr Nandwani discussed the important role of a cross sector approach in getting PrEP approved in Scotland and announced that generic PrEP would be made available starting 1 November. This will secure substantial savings for NHS Scotland. Dr Clutterbuck shared with delegates that 404 people have started taking PrEP on the NHS since its launch in July 2017. He went on to discuss the implementation issues and some of the clinical questions around monitoring issues and dosing.