One thing that has remained unchanged for our clients in the UK is that, when using brown heroin and crack cocaine, they need an acid and water source to prepare the drug for injection. Fortunately, one thing that has changed in the last 20 years is that they now have access to sterile acidifier powders and other paraphernalia as part of the harm reduction response. But new research published in 2019 (and showcased at the NNEF Forum in December 2019) highlights why these basic elements of needle exchange cannot be overlooked.
The last few months have seen some interesting developments. Sadly, Drug Related Deaths are still increasing and it is sad some areas have low naloxone coverage. In the next few weeks, I will be training Police officers on the use of naloxone. I am proud that the Birmingham City Centre Team will, hopefully, be the 1st Force in the UK to actually carry this life saving medication whilst patrolling the streets.
A week ago, the National Aids Trust (NAT) published a briefing on the HIV outbreak in Glasgow. I was shocked and saddened when I first saw the figures of the HIV outbreak in Glasgow. (I thought it was bad enough in Birmingham, with around 20 cases in the last 18 months). If the high toll of Drug Related Deaths was not enough, HIV is rearing its ugly head, again. I really thought we buried that one years ago.
The number of individuals engaged in structured drug treatment programmes in England has declined over recent years, but this has been a trend which has occurred alongside another development, that of an increasing number of drug related deaths (DRDs), culminating last year with ONS reporting the highest number of DRDs on record. Delivery of needle and syringe programmes (NSP) in England is not monitored in the same way as drug treatment programmes, at least at a national level, but local monitoring systems provide information which points to a different picture than that which national drug treatment programme data might suggest.
Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of updates in the last few months. As some of you may aware, Matt Johnson has stepped down as Chair and I have stepped up as Interim Chair. I would like to thank Matt for all the hard work he has done for the NNEF. He is now busy making a difference to many vulnerable and unfortunate people in Africa.