HIV, Hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses

People who inject drugs can place themselves at risk of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood borne viruses. Safe injecting practices can protect against infection.

HIV and hepatitis C can be transmitted through injecting practices that allow the blood of an infected person into the bloodstream of another person.

In the case of hepatitis C a tiny amount of blood is enough to transmit the virus, just because you can't see the blood doesn't mean it is not there. Following the safe injecting practices below will not only protect you against hepatitis C, but also HIV and other blood borne viruses.

Preventing infection

  • Never share any equipment, including the mix, water, swabs, filters, tourniquets, needle, syringe, etc.
  • Always use new and clean equipment for each hit. Sterile syringes are available from pharmacies and your local Needle and Syringe Program. The program is an anonymous and confidential service.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after injecting.
  • Don't help others or let them help you unless hands have been washed - and even then there is no absolute guarantee that it will stop infection.
  • Wash and clean the area being used to mix and prepare (e.g. table).
  • Never re-cap a syringe unless it's your own. Never bend the needle/syringe.
  • Dispose of used equipment in disposal containers (fitpacks and sharp bins) which are available from your local Needle and Syringe Program and some pharmacies.
  • Always have safe sex and have regular sexual health check-ups.

Staying safe

If you are having a night out and think you might have sex with someone, it is important you make a decision beforehand about what you want to do. Once you have made that decision you need to stick to it.

If you think you might have unsafe sex once you have been drinking or taking drugs then you need to consider not drinking or taking drugs or reducing your intake so that you can stay more in control.

If you choose to inject drugs, don't share any injecting equipment including needles, syringes, swabs, filters, spoons, tourniquets, the mix, etc. Sterile syringes are available from pharmacies and Needle and Syringe Program outlets. The program is an anonymous and confidential service. See safe injecting for more information.

Illegal drugs

Remember it is illegal to use illicit drugs. Illicit drugs are those which are illegal for people to use, possess, manufacture, sell, distribute or supply. These include marijuana, amphetamines, ecstasy and heroin. The are severe penalties ranging from fines to prison sentences.

Current as at: Thursday 7 March 2013
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health