Hepatitis C and HIV are on the rise among injecting drug users because the government has failed to tackle them, research out today shows.
Charity Turning Point found that half of injecting drug users had Hepatitis C and one in fifty had HIV.
Half of drug users shared needles or other injecting equipment, and nearly one in five were “speedballing” – injecting a combination of heroin and crack – which carried a higher risk of infection. Drug users were also taking more risks with their health by injecting into their neck and groin, according to the research.
Despite the prevalence of blood-borne viruses, drug users were unable to get treatment including less than a quarter of those with Hepatitis C.
The charity called on the government to make public health the key focus of the next drug strategy.
Victor Adebowale, chief executive of Turning Point, said the government’s “much-heralded” needle exchange programme had “hit a stumbling block” in failing to prevent blood-borne viruses.
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