22nd Sep, 2020

Infections among people who inject drugs in the UK are on the rise

Harry Leach 26th Dec, 2019

INFECTIONS among people who inject drugs in the UK are on the rise, according to Public Health England’s latest report.

People who inject drugs (PWID) are vulnerable to a wide range of infections which can result in diseases and death.

The report provides an update on the extent of infections among PWID in the UK.

In 2019 there have been ten times as many cases of ‘serious bacteria infections’ on an injected part of the body, than there was in 2015.

Health bosses say the cause of the rise is not clear as there are ‘likely several factors involved’.

The report says: “Services that work with people who inject should encourage people with skin lesions or other signs of infection to seek prompt medical attention.

“This is to ensure easy access to needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) and emphasize safer and hygienic injection practices.”

Hepatitis C continues to be a major problem among PWID in the UK, with one in every four currently infected.

But there is evidence of a reduction in the prevalence of Hepatitis C infections, likely due to the increase in uptake of testing and treatment.

Hepatitis B remains uncommon in people who inject but vaccine uptake needs to be sustained, say health bosses, especially in younger age groups where the uptake of vaccination is particularly low.

On HIV and needle sharing, the report says: “The prevalence of HIV remains low but outbreaks of HIV among PWID continue to occur.

“Regular testing should be encouraged as HIV is often diagnosed at a late stage.

“Continued sharing and re-use of injecting equipment remains a concern, with one in three users admitting they share.

“Adequate provision of new, sterile injecting equipment is vital to reduce sharing and its associated risks.”

Visit www.gov.uk for the full health report.

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