Persons Who Inject Drugs (PWID)

A deadly consequence of the opioid crisis is increased incidence of blood-borne infections, including viral hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and bacterial and fungal infections. These infections are primarily spread through using and sharing contaminated injection drug equipment, unsanitary conditions and low vaccination rates among at-risk populations. These infections have been increasingly impacting Americans in rural and suburban areas, as well as in urban parts of the United States.

CDC’s infectious disease programs work to implement evidence-based prevention programs in school and community settings, and to stop the spread of infectious diseases like hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV among people who inject drugs. Access to comprehensive prevention services is essential for all persons who inject drugs.

Syringe services programs (SSPs) are community-based prevention programs that can provide a range of services, including access to and disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment, vaccination, testing, and linkage to infectious disease care and substance use treatment. Nearly 30 years of research shows that comprehensive syringe services programs (SSPs) are safe, effective, and cost-saving, do not increase illegal drug use or crime, and play an important role in reducing the transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV and other infections. Below are a summary of CDC resources on infectious disease and injection drug use.

Assistance for Persons Who Use Drugs
Pills spelling out the word HELP

Call SAMHSA’s Referral Helpline 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) or visit SAMHSA Find Help & Treatmentexternal icon to find services near you for:

  • Substance Abuse and/or Mental Health Treatment Facility Locator
  • Buprenorphine Physicians & Treatment Program
  • Opioid Treatment
Guidance and Interventions
Page last reviewed: July 19, 2018