Prevention and control of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs
Since the emergence of the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs in the mid-1980s, many European countries have achieved substantial progress in implementing evidence-based measures to prevent and control infectious diseases among this group. In the 1990s, EU countries started to develop common prevention policies both in the fields of HIV/AIDS and drugs and drug addiction, which included the establishment of EU agencies to monitor the drug situation (the EMCDDA in 1993) and to prevent and control infections (ECDC in 2005). In the past two decades, prevention and treatment interventions... have been expanded and brought to scale. According to reports for the year 2009, more than half of the estimated population of problem opioid users received substitution treatment, and many countries have established needle and syringe programmes with increasing coverage among people who inject drugs. Data from countries with well-established surveillance systems suggest that the number of new HIV infections among people who inject drugs has decreased considerably in most, but not all, EU countries during the last decade. In the European neighbourhood, injecting drug use remains a major factor of vulnerability for acquiring blood borne and other infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, bacterial skin and soft tissue infections, and systemic infections. Estimates of the number of people who inject drugs suggest that there are significant populations at-risk for these infections in all European countries. Unaddressed, these infections result in a large burden on European health systems, significant individual suffering, as well as high treatment costs. It has been shown that a pragmatic public health prevention approach can have a strong effect on reducing the spread of blood-borne and other infections among people who inject drugs. Prevention is feasible and effective, if properly implemented.
- Corporate author(s): European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (EU body or agency) , European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EU body or agency) Themes: Social problems , Public health
- Subject: disease prevention , drug addiction , health control , health policy , infectious disease , narcotic
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