Objectives: In many parts of the world where unsafe injection practices in health settings are common, the prevalence of blood-borne viruses (BBVs) is high amongst injecting drug users (IDUs). If IDUs in these settings are receiving injections for health-related reasons, the possibility of amplification of BBV transmission via medical injections exists. The aim of this study is to describe the nature and extent of injections received for health-related reasons amongst IDUs in two Indian cities, New Delhi and Imphal.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 200 IDUs was conducted in late 2004. Trained peer outreach workers asked participants about health problems experienced, consultations with healthcare providers and health-related injections received in the preceding 4 weeks.
Results: Most participants (99.5%) were male, the average age was 29 years, and the average time since first injection of illicit drugs was 6 years. A total of 133 injections were received for health-related reasons during the preceding 4 weeks by 15% of the participants. The average number of injections was 8.6/participant/year.
Conclusion: Injections for health-related reasons were commonplace amongst these IDUs. Therefore, amplification of BBV transmission within communities due to unsafe injections is possible and warrants further investigation.