Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus which attacks the immune system. HIV is a chronic, lifelong infection which can be managed successfully by antiretroviral therapy (ART). There's no vaccine or cure for HIV but the current treatment, taking daily tablets, stops the virus from replicating and damaging the body’s immune system. Progression to advanced HIV disease or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is defined by a number of clinical conditions, can be controlled by good adherence to ART. People diagnosed with HIV and on ART are able to live long and healthy lives. The availability of effective treatments means that it's important to know your status and take an HIV test if you're at risk of being infected.

A person with a sustained, undetectable level of HIV viral load in their blood is unable to transmit HIV to their sexual partners. Evidence from clinical and scientific studies is the foundation of the now universally accepted statement that Undetectable Equals Untransmittable or U=U. The U=U Consensus statement can be viewed on the Prevention Access Campaign website.

HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the form of an antiretroviral combination drug became available on the NHS in Scotland in July 2017. PrEP aims to prevent HIV infection among people at highest risk of infection as part of a comprehensive approach to HIV prevention, this is alongside regular HIV testing and safer sex practices. 

The Implementation of HIV PrEP in Scotland: Second Year Report describes the uptake of the HIV PrEP programme in Scotland to the end of its second year (from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2019).

It highlights the continued success of the programme with over 3,300 individuals, the majority of whom are men who have sex with men (MSM), having been prescribed PrEP on at least one occasion during the first two years. To ensure all those at high risk of sexual acquisition of HIV can benefit from the PrEP service, work is ongoing to improve PrEP awareness among trans men, trans women, non-binary people, heterosexual men and people who inject drugs with accompanying sexual risk.

For further information on PrEP, please visit the HIV Scotland website.


Good practice guidance on HIV prevention in men who have sex with men (MSM)

The Scottish Health Protection Network (SHPN) has produced Good Practice Guidance on HIV Prevention in Men who have Sex with Men (MSM).

Guidance for health clearance of healthcare workers (HCWs) and management of those infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV

Guidance is available from Public Health England (PHE) for health clearance of healthcare workers (HCWs) and management of those infected with the following bloodborne viruses (BBVs):

  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis C
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

View the guidance for health clearance for HCWs and management of those infected with HBV, HCV and HIV (external website).

Guidance on testing, treatment and management of people diagnosed and living with HIV

Guidance can be found in the:

Guidance for cost-sensitive HIV therapy prescribing in NHSScotland

The HIV Clinical Leads of the Scottish Health Protection Network (SHPN) have developed guidance to support optimal HIV therapy prescribing and dispensing in Scotland.

View the guidance for cost-sensitive HIV therapy prescribing in NHS Scotland 2021

Guidance to support opt-out blood borne virus (BBV) testing in Scottish prisons

The Scottish Government updated the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework in 2015. The update recommended the introduction of opt-out BBV testing in the Scottish Prison Establishment. A Short Life Working Group produced this guidance to support the delivery and  monitoring of opt-out BBV testing in Scotland’s prisons. The guideline has been developed in line with national guidelines and policies.

View the Guidance to Support Opt-Out BBV Testing in Scottish Prisons

For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z ​pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.


Blood borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections. Scotland 2017 

The Blood borne viruses (BBV) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) report, produced by our BBV and STI team, describes the epidemiology of Hepatitis C (HCV), Hepatitis B (HBV), HIV and other STIs in Scotland to the end of December 2016. It also describes the impact of interventions in preventing infection and associated disease and highlights public health priorities.

The report also directs readers to other existing Scottish reports and data sources, these are available on our website. The commentary is structured around the outcome indicators detailed in the Scottish Government’s Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (SHBBV) Framework, 2015 to 2020.

HIV PrEP service

View the 'Implementation of HIV PrEP in Scotland' reports:

Data and surveillance

Surveillance of annual HIV treatment and care

Surveillance of HIV diagnoses in Scotland

Sexual health and blood borne virus framework

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework, first published by the Scottish Government in August 2011 and updated in September 2015, brought together policy areas on sexual health and blood borne viruses, namely HIV, HCV and HBV. The framework supports improvements in sexual health and wellbeing and addresses the impact of blood borne virus infection in Scotland. The framework seeks to strengthen and improve multi-agency partnerships to address the five high-level outcomes:

  1. Fewer newly acquired blood borne viruses and STIs; fewer unintended pregnancies
  2. A reduction in the health inequalities gap in sexual health and blood borne viruses
  3. People affected by blood borne viruses lead longer, healthier lives
  4. Sexual relationships are free from coercion and harm.
  5. A society whereby the attitudes of individuals, the public, professionals and the media in Scotland towards sexual health and blood borne viruses are positive, non-stigmatising and supportive.

Sexual health and blood borne virus (SHBBV) open access data portal

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (SHBBV) open access Data Portal contains a wealth of information together in a format which allows users to easily monitor Scotland’s progress nationally and locally against the Scottish Government’s SHBBV framework outcomes.