Health protection – guidance

People who inject drugs: infection risks, guidance and data

This guide is about infections that occur in people who inject drugs.

People who inject drugs (PWID) are vulnerable to a wide range of viral and bacterial infections. These infections can result in high levels of illness and in death.

In relation to infections among PWID, Public Health England:

  • monitors infectious diseases and the associated risk and protective behaviours among this group
  • provides information to understand the burden of these infections, and what puts people at risk of catching these infections
  • monitors the effectiveness of prevention measures
  • supports local areas to understand need and commission appropriate services
  • brings people together to share intelligence

Infections among PWID

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

Past reports on infections among people who inject drugs in the UK

Unlinked Anonymous Monitoring (UAM) survey

The UAM Survey of PWID is the main source of information on the extent of infections and risks in this population. This multi-site survey is a collaboration between Public Health England and over 60 specialist agencies that work with PWID across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In addition to monitoring disease levels, this survey collects information on:

  • injecting and sexual behaviours
  • uptake of interventions such vaccinations and diagnostic testing
  • use of health care facilities

Survey data

People who inject drugs: HIV and viral hepatitis monitoring data tables

Past reports from the unlinked anonymous monitoring (UAM) survey of people who inject drugs (PWID)

PWID infection and treatment resources from Public Health England

Information on blood borne viruses from Public Health England Alcohol, Drugs & Tobacco Division, including

  • National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NTDMS): data on people who inject drugs seeking treatment.
  • Estimates of the number of people using and injecting opiates and/or crack-cocaine
  • Preventing drug-related deaths: turning evidence into practice briefing

PWID infection and commissioning resources from NICE

See NICE guidance on drug misuse.

Public health in prison

Common infections among PWID

Hepatitis C: guidance, data and analysis

Hepatitis B guidance, data and analysis

Hepatitis A: guidance, data and analysis

HIV: guidance, data and analysis

Anthrax: guidance, data and analysis

Botulism: guidance, data and analysis

Tetanus: guidance, data and analysis

Severe systemic sepsis from HPA’s archive site.

Staphlococcus aureus

Group A streptococcal (GAS) infections