Injection into the jugular vein among people who inject drugs in the United Kingdom: Prevalence, associated factors and harms

Vivian D. Hope*, Jenny Iversen, Katelyn J. Cullen, John Parry, Lisa Maher, Fortune Nucbe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Background While people who inject drugs (PWID) typically use peripheral veins, some inject into their central veins, including the femoral and jugular veins. Injection into the jugular vein can have serious adverse health consequences, including jugular vein thrombosis, deep neck infections, pneumothorax, endocarditis and sepsis. This study examined the prevalence of, and factors associated with, jugular vein injection among a large sample of PWID in the United Kingdom. Method Unlinked anonymous surveys (2011–14) recruited PWID from agencies providing services to this population. Self-reported demographic and injection-related data were collected from consenting respondents using a brief questionnaire and dried blood spot samples were tested for exposure to HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV). Univariate and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine factors associated with jugular vein injection. Results Among 5261 PWID, one third had injected into a central vein in the previous 28 days, including 6% (n = 339) who had injected into their jugular vein and 1% (n = 52) who had used this site exclusively for recent injections. Factors independently associated with recent jugular vein injection in multivariable analysis included female gender, a lifetime history of imprisonment, sharing needles and syringes, poly-drug injection and injection into multiple body sites. Jugular vein injection was also associated with experiencing injection-related injuries, although no associations were identified with respect to exposure to blood borne viral infections. Conclusion A significant minority of PWID inject into the jugular vein in the United Kingdom. Public health responses should investigate ways to support and promote good injection site management in order to minimise vascular damage and reduce problems with peripheral venous access. Women who inject drugs, PWID with a history of imprisonment and those people who are experiencing early signs of injection-related skin and soft tissue injuries are priority sub-populations for interventions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-33
    Number of pages6
    JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This work was supported by core funding provided by Public Health England. We are grateful to all of the people who took part in the surveys and to the fieldworkers that undertook the data collection. We would also like to thank those who undertook the blood borne virus testing on the dried blood spot samples, and those who have assisted with running the surveys.?Conflict of interests?The authors have no current or past competing or conflicting interests in relation to work presented in this manuscript.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2017

    Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Harm reduction
    • Injection-site vein loss
    • Jugular vein
    • People who inject drugs
    • Skin and soft tissue infections
    • United Kingdom


    Dive into the research topics of 'Injection into the jugular vein among people who inject drugs in the United Kingdom: Prevalence, associated factors and harms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this