Aims: To measure risk behaviour among injecting drug users (IDUs) using the Injecting Risk Questionnaire (IRQ).
Methods: Data were analysed from the first multi-site survey of injecting risk behaviour among IDUs not in contact with drug services in England. A total of 1214 IDUs were recruited from community settings in seven sites.
Findings: Fifty-two per cent reported sharing injecting equipment in the previous 4 weeks in response to a single question on sharing. This rose to 78% when asked more detailed and multiple questions on injecting risk practices. Levels of injecting risk behaviour did not differ substantially by gender, age, length of injecting career, main drug of injection, previous treatment contact or geographical location. However, sharing partners were restricted to a median of two others.
Conclusion: These data raise questions concerning the extent to which levels of injecting risk behaviour have increased over recent years, or the extent to which previous monitoring systems underestimated levels of risk. None the less, the data confirm that the promotion of safer injecting continues to be an important public health issue with regard to reducing blood-borne infections.