for Veterans and the Public
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will cleaning needles and syringes with bleach before using them prevent you from getting HIV?
You can be infected with HIV if you use needles and syringes contaminated with blood from a person who has HIV. One way to avoid getting HIV from IV drug use is to stop injecting drugs. Talk to your VA provider if you need help stopping. Another effective way is to always use new, sterile syringes and needles and also to be sure not to use any shared injecting equipment (cookers, spoons, cottons, etc.). Ask your provider if you need assistance locating a Syringe Services Program (SSP) locally to obtain clean needles or dispose of used ones. Find more information about SSPs.
But what if you can't get into a drug treatment program, it hasn't worked for you, or you can't get sterile equipment? There is some evidence that cleaning your needles and syringes with laundry bleach can lower your risk of getting HIV. Be sure to follow a cleaning process with your equipment.