When most of us think about HIV transmission we think about the dangers of unsafe sexual contact. But sharing syringes is now the second largest cause of the spread of HIV.
Those who use drugs, whether they be ‘recreational’ drugs or body-enhancement drugs such as anabolic steroids, often trust those around them. This trust is, so often, the downfall of drug users, as there is no telling whether someone is carrying HIV just by looking at them, their body or their personal hygiene.
Sharing a needle even ‘just this once’ can pass the virus in a highly-effective manner. If your friend has the virus then there is a near 100% chance that you will contract it if you share a needle with them. It may be your first time injecting drugs or your first time sharing works, but the virus doesn’t know that.
Avoiding injecting drugs in the first place is a great way to avoid HIV, but if you have to take drugs in this way then always make sure that there are enough needles and syringes for everyone there to have one each. Never share a dose of drugs via needle, whether it is to get high, feed an addiction or build your muscle mass. Always dispose of needles safely too, using a sharps bin where one is available.
If you regularly inject drugs then you should be able to find a needle exchange scheme, where you can swap used needles for fresh ones. The raTrust can help users to find a scheme near to them and we regularly give drug users advice on staying safe. The biggest problems come when those who do not see themselves as intravenous drug users or even as drug users at all, so we will work with others to help to find solutions in this area, making sure that gym users and partygoers alike get the information that they need. Everyone needs to know that just one injection can lead to HIV and AIDS and the continued spread of the virus.
Please help raTrust to spread the word about safe injecting. You may not think that this topic touches your life, but there is every chance that a friend, family member or work colleague may be tempted to inject. Share our posts on Facebook and Twitter or simply comment below and keep the conversation going.
Dominika Rejmer – Director and founder, The raTrust.