Injecting Drug Use Among Under 18s: A Snapshot of Available Data

(December 2013)

Damon Barrett, Neil Hunt, Claudia Stoicescu, Harm Reduction International Reports

Young people who inject drugs have specific developmental, social and environmental vulnerabilities. They are less likely to use harm reduction and treatment services and are less informed about risks and their rights. Early onset of injecting, and being a new injector, have been associated with increased risks of HIV and hepatitis C transmission, while specific groups of young people, especially those that are street involved, are at considerably higher risk. The legal status of being a minor, meanwhile, raises challenges for both achieving a better understanding of the situation and for the development of targeted harm reduction interventions. This report is the first attempt to provide a global snapshot of available data on injecting drug use among children and young people under the age of 18. Based on desk research and expert questionnaires it finds that injecting among under-18s represents a data ‘blind spot’ impeding our ability to assess service need and to estimate budgetary implications. Available studies that have looked at injecting among this age group, however, provide important insights from every region and make a clear case for more action. Read more