Twenty-one years after the first needle exchange
services were set up in response to the rise of
HIV, there is now a generation of injecting drug
users who are taking drugs differently and more
dangerously. It seems they are too young to
remember the HIV awareness campaigns of the
1980s and are at high risk from life-threatening
blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis and HIV.
The statistics are startling, with half of injecting
drug users estimated to have Hepatitis C, and a
total of 6,000 new infections per year. Current or
ex-injecting drug users make up nearly 90% of all
Hepatitis C infections in the UK (HPA, 2006). HIV
rates are at their highest levels since 1993 among
injectors, with anonymous surveys indicating that
one in 50 current users has HIV (HPA, 2006a).
With 25 needle exchanges across England and
Wales, Turning Point is coming into contact
with more and more people facing damage to
their health caused by risky injection practices.
We believe this is a public health issue and
there is an overwhelming case for improving
service provision for this vulnerable group.
Current drug policy is failing to protect people
from the risks of blood borne virus infection, at
huge cost to drug users, the community and the
taxpayer. Access to testing and treatment for
blood borne viruses is poor, with too many
people living in ignorance of their illness.
16 page .pdf file
source: Turning Point