Infectious Diseases in Persons Who Inject Drugs

Key points

  • A deadly consequence of the opioid crisis is increased blood-borne infections, including viral hepatitis, HIV, and bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Infections are spread through contaminated injection drug equipment, unsanitary conditions and low vaccination rates among at-risk populations.
Woman interacting with SSP provider

What CDC is doing

A man deposits used syringes into a red disposal container.
A man deposits used syringes into a red disposal container.

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.

Funding opportunities

Assistance for persons who use drugs

SAMHSA's referral helpline

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

  • Substance Abuse and/or Mental Health Treatment Facility Locator
  • Buprenorphine Physicians & Treatment Program
  • Opioid Treatment

Guidance and interventions