HIV and Injection Drug Use - HIV
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HIV and Injection Drug Use

for Veterans and the Public

HIV and injection drug use

Sharing a needle or any equipment when injecting drugs is dangerous for you and for your sharing partners. They could get HIV from you, and you could get another disease, such as hepatitis, from them.

The safest option is not to share. Use clean needles and syringes each time, and keep your own equipment to yourself. There are sterile syringe programs that can help provide clean needles. For more information on sterile syringe programs, please visit the HIV.gov WebsiteLink will take you outside the VA website.

Because of the dangers of injection drug use, the best way to lower your risk is to stop injecting drugs. If you need help to stop using drugs, please talk to your VA provider or visit maketheconnection.netLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.

If you do inject drugs, follow these reminders:

  • Never reuse or "share" syringes, water, or drug preparation equipment.
  • Use only syringes obtained from a reliable source (such as pharmacies and needle or syringe services programs).
  • Use a new, sterile syringe each time to prepare and inject drugs. If this is not possible, sterilize your syringe or disinfect your syringe and other equipment with bleach.
  • If possible, use sterile water to prepare drugs; otherwise, use clean water from a reliable source (such as fresh tap water).
  • Use a new or disinfected container ("cooker") and a new filter ("cotton") to prepare drugs.
  • Clean the injection site with a new alcohol swab prior to injection.
  • Safely dispose of syringes after one use.