Infection risk high among homeless
Homeless people who inject drugs are more likely to share needles and are more at risk of injection-related infections associated with poor hygiene, according to a new report from the Health Protection Agency. Shooting up: infections among injecting drug users in the UK also found that injecting crack cocaine, and injecting into the groin, both associated with higher levels of infection and risk, had become more common. The report revealed that almost 75 per cent of injecting drug users had been homeless at some point. One in four who reported being homeless in the last year said they had shared needles within the last month, compared with one in six of those who had not been homeless. Almost half of injecting drug users are infected with hepatitis C and one in four have been exposed to hepatitis B. One in 75 is HIV positive, a figure that rises to one in 20 in London. Along with the dangers of exposure to blood-borne viruses, however, injecting drug users are also at risk of abscesses, bacterial infections like MRSA, and wound botulism. 'Injecting drug users who are also homeless are likely to find it harder to maintain hygienic infection practices as a result of having to inject in public places or having difficulty in storing injection equipment somewhere clean,' said the report's author Dr Fortune Ncube. 'Injecting drug users in this situation are more susceptible to contracting severe life-threatening infections, as are those who inject into the groin or inject crack cocaine.'