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Crew News: Dec 06 2011

Our new BBV drop in testing service is now on during shop hours- 1pm to 5pm Mon to Sat (Except Thurs) OR Call Lisa for an appointment (0131 220 3404)    

Had sex without a condom?

Ever injected drugs?

Have you snorted drugs?


You may have been exposed to a blood borne virus, something that can be treated. The test is quick, easy & confidential.


Testing for Hepatitis C, Hep B & HIV at Crew for free!


Here at Crew, we're very excited when there's something more we can do for people on the topic of sexual or drug related harm reduction so we're thrilled to announce that blood borne virus testing has been added to our busy little shop. We know how important it is to our service users to make testing accessible in an environment that's comfortable and familiar and we know the relief a negative test will provide, along with the importance of properly managing a positive result to reduce transmission in the community & support the individual to do so.



The facts about Blood Borne Viruses...


Blood borne viruses (BBVs) are viruses which are transmitted when infected blood from one person comes into contact with blood from another person. The three main BBVs are Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).BBVs can be transmitted through:


Sharing injecting equipment including needles, spoons, filters and water, unprotected sex (heterosexual or homosexual), unsterile medical treatment or unsterile body piercing/tattoos, blood to blood contact from an infected person (eg. in a fight), mother to baby. HIV & Hep B are more common in men who have sex with men whilst Hep C is more common in drug users who have ever injected. Hep C is less likely to be transmitted during sex.


You may experience flu like symptoms around the time of infection from a BBV although many people will not experience any symptoms and may remain well for a number of years. Over time HIV destroys the body's immune system making it difficult to fight off infections whilst Hep B & C cause inflammation of the liver which can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) and sometimes liver cancer.





At Crew you will be offered a confidential space to discuss testing, what this means for you and any concerns you have. The test itself is done by pricking the finger with a small needle and collecting a sample of blood on a special card. This sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing.


Results usually take 10 days and you will be invited back to Crew to receive your result in person. Some of these viruses take up to 6 months to show up in the blood and if you have been at risk within that time you will be offered a follow up appointment to get retested. If you are put at risk again you should consider getting retested.



The benefits of getting tested


Blood borne viruses can cause serious health problems and possible death if an infection is left untreated for a long time. Hepatitis B & Hep C can often be cured with treatment and although there is no cure for HIV, lifelong treatment can be very successful.


Knowing that you have an infection allows you to make positive changes to your lifestyle which will benefit your health (eg. cutting down or stopping drinking alcohol if you are infected with Hep B or C will help to reduce the damage to your liver).


Knowing you have an infection means that you can prevent spreading the infection onto others by practicing safe sex and not sharing injecting equipment. Women who are pregnant can also make choices about protecting their unborn child from contracting Hep B and HIV.


Treatment Options


Hep C is a treatable condition. Treatment will last between 24 and 48 weeks depending on the type of virus you have (known as genotype). The success rate of treatment is currently 50-80% depending on the genotype you have. If you are tested for Hep C and the result shows you have the virus, we will refer you onto a specialist who will test your blood to determine your genotype and to discuss treatment options with you.


Hep B - 90% of people clear the virus naturally but for those that don't, Hep B is a lifelong treatable condition. Treatment would depend on the amount of virus in your blood and you would be referred to a specialist to discuss this further.


HIV is a lifelong condition however treatments aim to reduce the amount of infection in your blood which will minimise the damage to your immune system. If you have a test for HIV at Crew which shows you have the virus, we will refer you onto a specialist who will take more blood from you to determine how much virus is in your blood and the amount of damage to your immune system. Based on these results, the specialist can discuss treatment options with you.


Harm Reduction


Here are some ways you can reduce the risk of contracting a blood borne virus:


If using drugs:


Use your own tooter as there is a risk of passing on BBVs if they are shared, Use rolled up card/cardboard or buy your own tooter. Straws can cause damage to your nose and bank notes are more likely to contain traces of blood from another user.


Snort from the back of your hand. If injecting do not share equipment as this can lead to the transmission of BBVs. Have your own space for injecting and keep your own equipment for personal use. Do not draw up from a communal pot of water. Wash hands before and after injecting and avoid sharing personal items like nail clippers, toothbrushes and razors as they may contain traces of blood from another user infected with a BBV.



Safe Sex:


Use a condom every time you have sex, use dams to protect during oral sex, pop along to your nearest GUM clinic for a free sexual health screening


The Crew shop is situated on Cockburn Street in the centre of Edinburgh and is run by staff and volunteers. We are open Mon-Wed, Fri & Sat 1-5pm and Thurs 3-7pm. Please feel free to pop in for information about drugs or sexual health or to find out more about getting tested for blood borne viruses.


Our new BBV drop intestingservice is on during shop hours or by appointment at the Crew shop. Pop along to find out more!


For more information about this new and exciting service contact us for a chat, you can also visit our blog. To download our information leaflet please visit our press and publications section in downloads.