Award-winning research team receives letter of commendation from Public Health Minister

Glasgow Caledonian University’s award-winning Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses (SHBBV) research group has received a letter of commendation from Scotland’s Public Health Minister Maree Todd MSP for their world-leading HIV and hepatitis C prevention research in people who inject drugs.

The team won the 2021 Emerald Publishing International Real Impact Award – Mobilising Research into Action category – for demonstrating impactful results through incredible collaborative working.

The award entry, led by Professor Claudia Estcourt and Professor Sharon Hutchinson, showed how the group works collaboratively across academia, public health, NHS, policy, third-sector and people with lived experience to turn research findings into health policy and practice.

The Real Impact Awards celebrate researchers who go above and beyond to make a difference to their communities or wider society.

Ms Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, said: “I am writing to congratulate you and your team on your momentous achievement of receiving the 2021 Emerald Publishing International Real Impact Award. The award gives international recognition to your world-leading HIV and hepatitis C prevention research in people who inject drugs.

“I am extremely thankful of the commitment you have given to the cause of tackling HIV and Hepatitis C in Scotland. We would not have made the significant progress we have seen thus far without such commitment.”

Professors Estcourt and Hutchinson praised the team for their hard work and said they were delighted to receive the personal letter from the Minister.

Professor Estcourt added: “We were immensely proud to receive the commendation from the Minister. It is hugely satisfying for the whole team to see our work recognised as helping to bring health gains to Scotland.”

Professor Estcourt led world-leading HIV research which has underpinned the roll-out and evaluation of Scotland’s HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Programme, one of the first programmes in the world.

PrEP is a medication to prevent HIV infection and is hailed as game-changer in the elimination of HIV transmission. People who inject drugs are very vulnerable to getting or passing on HIV through shared injecting equipment and condomless sex.

Professor Hutchinson’s research on hepatitis C virus (HCV) has shaped Scotland’s public health response and led to major health benefits, particularly among people who inject drugs at high risk of infection.

As part of the Award, the SHBBV team’s impact commitment will be featured in the Real Impact Awards Showcase Book to be shared in a global social media campaign and will be invited to a celebration event this year to receive a certificate and award.

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