Injecting drug users and HIV

Linda Panton
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Regional Infectious Diseases Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh

People who inject drugs (PWID) certainly have to be considered as a ‘hard-to-reach’ population at risk of HIV transmission. They often come from marginalised groups in society, such as sex workers, MSM or prisoners, and once they are diagnosed with HIV, often are stigmatised further, driving them more underground, and away from any support services.
One-in-ten new HIV infections worldwide result from the use of contaminated injecting equipment by PWID. Latest estimates indicate that there could be 15.9 million PWID across the world, with 3 million living with HIV [1]. Unfortunately, due to their difficulties with engagement, only 4% of this latter group are actually on treatment. Between 5 and 10% of new HIV infections worldwide result from sharing needles; however, this figure jumps to 80% in Eastern Europe and Central Asia [2]. Read more. . .