People who inject drugs (PWID) are disproportionately affected by blood-borne infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. They are also at an increased risk of fatal overdose.
The number of people who inject drugs worldwide is estimated at 11.3 million in 2017. Roughly one in eight people who inject drugs lives with HIV, amounting to 1.4 million people. UNAIDS estimates that the risk of HIV acquisition among people who inject drugs is 22 higher likely than the general population.
Among global populations of people in prison the prevalence of HIV is 3.8 per cent, and depending on the country, can be up to 50 per cent higher than the prevalence of HIV infection in the general population.
The global prevalence of hepatitis B in prison is 15.1 per cent, chronic HBV infection is 4.8 per cent and active tuberculosis rates are at 2.8 per cent in prisons globally. The prevalence of these infections in population of people in prison is also higher than in the general population, due to the criminalisation of drug use.
As co-sponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNODCs global HIV programme supports countries to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support among people who use drugs and for comprehensive HIV services for people in prisons.
Our work is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular SDG 3 and its target 3.3 to end AIDS by 2030 and the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy 2016-2021 which calls for a 90 per cent of people who inject drugs and people in prisons to have access to HIV combination prevention services.
Photo: UNODC Vienna