World TB Day raises awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease. One-third of the world's population is currently infected with TB. Due to marginalisation and lifestyle, drug users face higher risks of contracting the disease than the general population. Among the core tasks of the EMCDDA are the monitoring of drug-related infectious diseases among drug users and of measures taken by the Member States in reducing and preventing infectious diseases in this vulnerable population.
Several of the agency’s publications address these topics, including the ECDC–EMCDDA joint guidance on the Prevention and control of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs (2011), which explores good public health practices that can support effective policies to reduce infections. Specific guidance on testing issued by the agency in 2010 (Guidelines for testing HIV, viral hepatitis and other infections in injecting drug users), recommends that regular health examinations should be offered to injecting drug users which routinely include testing for blood-borne diseases as well as screening for latent or current TB cases.
In spite of low TB notification rates in most countries in Europe, TB remains a serious threat, especially for those living with HIV, whose risk of developing TB is estimated to be between 20–37 times greater than among those without HV infection (http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/tb/3is/en/index.html). Earlier testing would ensure earlier treatment for IDUs and lower the risk of infection spreading to the wider population.