A recently-released study by the Coalition for Applied Modeling for Prevention (CAMP) and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the colossal rise in injection drug use (IDU) in the United States in recent years.
CAMP’s study estimates that in the last decade, IDU has gone up exponentially. The most recent data from 2018 estimated that approximately 4 million Americans injected drugs. This is a five-fold increase from the last approximation in 2011.
The burden of fatal and non-fatal overdoses among those who inject drugs has also gone up sharply, according to CAMP’s research. Injection-related overdose deaths tripled from 2007 to 2018. Data also shows that there are about 40 non-fatal overdoses for every fatal overdose of IDU.
“Our estimate of the number of people who inject drugs in the U.S. indicates that services need to be substantially expanded — this includes services to meet harm-reduction needs and efforts to reduce escalating rates of overdose mortality, as well as services to address the spread of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Heather Bradley, a lead author of a study cited by CAMP in their findings, from Clinical Infections Diseases.
The CDC warns that “people who inject drugs are at high risk for HIV if they use needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment.”
The CDC estimates that a third of people who inject drugs share syringes, needles, or other drug injection equipment.
Though new cases of HIV are down overall, the CDC reports that about 10 percent of new HIV cases in the United States are people who inject drugs.
Hepatitis C cases have also skyrocketed in recent years. According to the CDC, in 2011 there were an estimated 2,700 cases of Hepatitis C, and in 2019 the number leapt up to approximately 57,500.
The CAMP researchers note the findings in the study “provide valuable insight” to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on IDU in the U.S.” and give researchers and public health officials information they can use to try to implement harm reduction in IDU.