Shooting Up: infections among people who inject drugs in the UK, 2020


10 Feb 2022 by UK Health Security Agency

Published by the UK Health Security Agency, this report describes the extent of infections and injecting-related harms among people who inject drugs (PWID), who experience substantially worse health outcomes than the general population.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on access to services for PWID, including access to blood borne virus (BBV) testing and equipment for the safe use and/or injecting of drugs. Among other key findings, the report observes that risk behaviours among PWID have increased, with a third of PWID in 2020 reporting an inadequate provision of needles and syringes. And alongside risk behaviour, reports of both fatal and non-fatal overdose have increased in the UK, with overdose most common among people using and/or injecting opiates.

Although HCV continues to be the most common infection among PWID in the UK, with evidence showing no reductions in new infections, there has nonetheless been a significant decline in chronic HCV prevalence. The report recommends that diagnostic services and care and treatment pathways for those with HCV continue and are optimised to meet the needs of PWID, ensuring no-one is left behind.