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taking care

Sharing any drug injecting equipment (works) can easily lead to HIV and other diseases carried in the blood (such as hepatitis B and C) being passed on. Works are not just the needle and syringe but include spoons, mixing dishes, filters, water and citric acid.

If you inject drugs, use a new needle and syringe each time and don't share any injecting equipment. New equipment can be bought from some chemists, or is available free from needle exchanges, most drug agencies and some chemists. Look out for this sign:

needle exchange

In most needle exchanges you do not have to literally exchange old needles for new ones. You should be able to get a supply of new, sterilised needles.

Get rid of your used works carefully. Needle exchange schemes provide sharps or 'cin' bins for safe disposal. If you do not have one, put the needle and syringe into a tin can, crush carefully to ensure they do not fall out, then place in a bin.


Cleaning works

It is best to go to a needle exchange and get a new set of works. But if sharing is impossible to avoid, works can be cleaned between users as a last resort. Cleaning works will kill HIV, but not hepatitis C. Hep C is more common among drug users than HIV and can have serious long-term effects.

This is what you should do to clean works:
  • draw fresh cold water through the needle into the syringe and flush x 3
  • draw household bleach through the needle into the syringe and flush x 3
  • draw fresh cold water through the needle into the syringe and flush x 3
The bleach should stay in the syringe for 30 seconds. Remember not to flush out into the clean water.

Do not use hot water: it will make the blood congeal so traces may be left behind. Boiling works may not remove all the blood for the same reason, and anyway disposable works usually buckle if boiled.

For more info:

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Special note:
This site is all about harm reduction. We realise that some people will take drugs no matter what advice they are given, so we have reproduced this guide for information purposes only. It is not medical advice. If you are being coerced into taking drugs, or are in any doubt about taking a substance, our advice is to always refuse.

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