‘Even Playboy turned up in Muirhouse’

Dr Roy Robertson
Dr Roy Robertson

A MUIRHOUSE-based doctor who helped compile a report which saw Edinburgh tagged the “Aids capital of Europe” has said he regrets drawing attention to the community.

Dr Roy Robertson – whose work is said to have inspired Trainspotting - was the first to make the connection between infection and the sharing of needles in a 1987 British Medical Journal report.

He told a Sunday newspaper that the publication “sparked a furore” as he recalled the panic that gripped the Capital with the HIV epidemic was discovered.

Dr Robertson said: “Everybody from government people to Playboy magazine turned up at the Muirhouse surgery. About 50 TV companies arrived over the next few months.

“I regret drawing so much attention to our community. Edinburgh got the tag ‘Aids capital of Europe’. That was unfair because there were lots of other places.

“The problem for Muirhouse was we had identified that problem and were first to publish an article in the British Medical Journal.”

Dr Robertson, a professor of addiction medicine at Edinburgh University who still runs the Muirhouse Medical Group, has traced the lives of 800 heroin addicts two decades apart.

He said: “One in four had died and a third were still using heroin in one way or another. Heroin has caused, and still does cause, a lot of misery in Muirhouse.”