Injection drug use increases the risk of acquiring HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases. Injection drug use (IDU) can be a direct route of disease transmission if people share needles, syringes, or other injection materials that are contaminated with HIV, Hepatitis B, and/or Hepatitis C. In people living with HIV, substance use affect the ability to stay on HIV therapy and can worsen the impact of the infection on overall health.
In Illinois, the rate of Hepatitis C infection among young adults aged 16–30 years doubled from 2009–2015. Much of this increase is thought to be due to increased illicit injection drug use. Although an increase in new HIV diagnoses due to injection drug use has not been seen in Illinois, increasing trends of injection drug use in the state may lead to an increase in HIV diagnoses. Efforts to reduce injection drug use and, to reduce syringe and needle sharing among injection drug users, can result in decreased infectious disease transmission.