Netherlands Country Drug Report 2019

Drug-related infectious diseases

The available data suggest that the incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections among people who inject drugs (PWID) has remained at very low levels in the Netherlands. Still, prevalence of HCV among this group is much higher than among the general population, and it remains the most common drug-related infection in the country. However, in recent years, men who have sex with men (MSM) have been increasingly seen as a high-risk group with regard to new HCV infections. Special concern exists about the risk of infection in MSM who inject in the context of chemsex (slamming), although the size of this group is unclear. This pattern was reported initially in Amsterdam, but it has also appeared in other larger cities more recently.

Prevalence of HIV and HCV antibodies among people who inject drugs in the Netherlands (%)
  Region HCV HIV
Data from 2017. Data are from Amsterdam.
National : :
Sub-national 85.7 0

New HIV cases linked to drug injecting remain rare. For example, the Amsterdam Cohort Study, initiated in 1985, had recruited 1 661 (injecting) drug users by the end of 2012, but no new cases of HIV infection were reported after 2006. In addition, the presence of PWID in HIV treatment centres has declined over the years.

The Netherlands is considered a low-prevalence country for HBV infection, although the prevalence of chronic HBV among PWID is approximately 3-4 %, which is higher than in the Dutch general population.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.

Additional note for the Netherlands: Data on number and quantity of seizures do not include all relevant law enforcement units and should be considered partial, minimum figures. Data for amphetamines, heroin and MDMA include seizures by Dutch Customs and the Royal Military Police, but do not include seizures by national or regional police forces. Cocaine seizures represent the majority of large seizures, comprising data from Dutch Customs (including Rotterdam and Vlissingen harbours), the Royal Military Police and the National Police Force, but regional police force data are not included. Cannabis data are limited to police seizures of plants, cuttings and tops seized during dismantlement of cultivation sites. Data on precursors (scheduled and non-scheduled substances) are based exclusively on reports of suspicious transactions of such substances to the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Unit.