New Zealand leads the world with one of the lowest rates of HIV infection within the injecting drug using community. On the flip side, rates of Hepatitis C is around 70-80% amoungst injecting drug using community.
You can avoid Hep C and the HIV viruses and transmitting them onto others by practising safe sex methods and safe injection techniques relating to injecting drug use.
The Golden Rules:
NEVER SHARE ANY INJECTING EQUIPMENT AND MIXING UP UTENSILS
This includes everything from spoons, filters, swabs, tourniquets, water, wheel filters and of course never share a barrel and needle with anyone. Be prepared and organise your injecting equipment before you organise your drugs.
USE FRESH CLEAN EQUIPMENT EVERY TIME
Once item is removed from the wrapper and used it is no longer sterile, It is recommended to always use everything new and sterile when injecting drugs. Re-using your own barrel it is not recommended, bacteria is everywhere in our enviroment even naked to the human eye, even if you clean your barrel there may be a risk of these bacteria getting into your shot and potentialy causing infections. Use a new barrel, needle and wheel filter for every shot.
Be prepared!! If you are planning on injecting drugs remember to organise your injecting equipment first.
Take responsability for your own gear
BE BLOOD CAREFUL- BE BLOOD AWARE
Once you are ready to begin, make sure that you have washed the area on the table or surface down well with a good disinfectant where you plan to mix your shot, especially if someone else has used the area to have a shot before you. High grade bleach that is no older than 6 months old is best to use as a disinfective or a few alcohol prep pads can be the next best thing. If you don't have access to these items then lay down some toilet paper or some other new clean material to act as a barrier from the unsterile surface to your mixing spoon.
HIV can die in a matter of seconds outside the body but Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) may survive on enviromantal surfaces at room temperature for at least 16 hours but not longer than four days. The potential for HCV to survive in the enviroment re-emphasises the importance of cleaning and disinfection procedures and using safe injection practices.
Clean your mixing spoon with a prep pad and dry with a clean tissue and get your injecting equipment ready.
Wash your hands and injection site well with warm soapy water and make sure that you have dried them with a clean towel or new dispoable tissue. If you are not near running water cleaning your hands with a alcohol prep pad is the next best thing. Remember if you are helping someone else shoot up after you have, wash your hands well to remove any bacteria or blood from your hands or wear latex gloves this helps minimise the potential spread of blood borne viruses and bacteria from one person to another.
Always use condoms and lube when having sex.
IF YOURE A NON-INJECTING USER
The risks of blood borne virus infection such as Hepatitis B ,C and HIV are lower, but there is still a risk of contracting or spreading these viruses. Any activity that has the chance of blood to blood contact or blood to broken skin should be considered risky and procautions put in place.Other activities includes unsafe and unsterile tattooing and body piercing, unsafe sex, steroid injecting, snorting drugs through a straw or other devise ( fine blood vessels in your nose can be easily agrivated and bleed when snorting drugs, blood may get on your snorting devise and passed on to the next person snorting), on the sports field or even at home with hygiene items such as tooth brushes, razors, hairbrushes and faceclothes etc, never share personal hygiene items.
Blood borne viruses don't discriminate so treat everybody as potentially infectious - be blood careful and be blood aware!!!!