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HIV/AIDS

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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 the people you are sharing with. 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.

Because of the dangers of injection drug use, the best way to lower your risk is to stop injecting drugs and to enter and complete a substance abuse treatment plan. You can talk to your health care provider about this.

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 exchange programs).
  • Use a new, sterile syringe each time to prepare and inject drugs.
  • 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.