"Viral hepatitis, in particular infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), is highly prevalent in injecting drug users across Europe (Figure 18). HCV antibody levels among national samples of injecting drug users in 2009–10 varied from 14% to 70%, with seven of the 11 countries with national data (Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Norway), reporting prevalence over 40% (111), a level that may indicate that injecting risks are sufficient for HIV transmission (Vickerman et al., 2010).
"Around 96 million or 29 % of adults (aged 15-64) in the European Union are estimated to have used illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime. This should be regarded as a minimum estimate due to reporting biases. Experience of drug use is more frequently reported by males (57.8 million) than females (38.4 million).
"Many countries believe (erroneously) that the international drug conventions prohibit the use of heroin in medical treatment. Furthermore, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has exerted great pressure on countries to cease prescribing heroin for any medical purpose. Nevertheless, a few countries, including the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Iceland, Malta, Canada and Switzerland, continue to use heroin (diamorphine) for general medical purposes, mostly in hospital settings (usually for severe pain relief).