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Drug use is a part of our society and people who inject drugs have been identified as an at risk population for a variety of health outcomes. If you choose to inject drugs, it is best to know how to do so as safely as possible to minimise the potential negative health consequences. Unsafe injecting risks include blood-borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as dirty hits, bruising, vein damage, blood poisoning and abscesses.

Remember: a new kit for every hit.

Preperation
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Choose a safe place to mix up and inject your drugs. Somewhere that is private, clean, well-lit, and has running water.

Make sure you have everything you need:

  • New, sterile fits (needles and syringes)
  • Sterile water, or boiled water which has cooled
  • Sterile swabs
  • Clean filter
  • Clean spoon
  • Clean tourniquet

Use water and a soapy detergent to clean the surface before you prepare your hit. This removes viruses, bacteria and dirt from your injecting environment.

Wash your hands well with soap and warm water. If you can't, use new swabs to clean them. Rub the swabs against the skin in one direction—rubbing backwards and forwards can rub the dirt and bacteria back in again. Wait for your hands to dry to ensure the bacteria are killed.

Mixing Up
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  • Clean the spoon by wiping once with a new swab and letting it dry
  • Put the drugs in the spoon. If you are unsure about the quality or your tolerance to it, just use a small amount to start with
  • Use your sterile fit to draw up water, then add it to the spoon
  • Mix. If you use the blunt end of your syringe for mixing, swab it clean beforehand
  • Add the filter to the spoon and draw up the solution through it to avoid impurities
  • Remove the air bubbles. Pointing the needle skywards and flicking it on the side. Push the plunger up slowly until the air bubbles escape through the needle

Group Mixes

  • If you are using in a group, use sterile fits to mix and divide up
  • Each member of the group must have their own water, spoon, and filter
  • Never let your used equipment, or anyone else's used equipment, come into contact with a group mix

Injecting
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  • Try not to touch anything that hasn't been cleaned until you have finished injecting
  • Wipe the injection site once with a new swab to disinfect the area
  • Place the tourniquet around your upper arm or above the injection site
  • Put the needle in your arm at a 45-degree angle with the hole facing up. Sometimes blood appears in the syringe when the needle is inserted in the vein
  • Pull back the plunger and blood should appear
  • When you are sure the needle is in the vein, loosen the tourniquet and slowly depress the plunger of the syringe
  • Try to avoid getting blood on your hands. Use tissues, toilet paper or other disposable materials to stop any bleeding
  • Remove the needle, keep your arm straight and apply pressure to the injection site for a couple of minutes

Cleaning up
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  • Dispose of rinsing water immediately
  • Put your fit in a sharp safe or a child-proof, puncture-proof container such as a glass jar
  • Put swabs, filters and opened water ampoules in the sharp safe or inside one plastic bag and then another and then in the rubbish bin
  • Clean up any surface blood spills with soapy water
  • Wash your spoon with soapy water or wipe it once with a new swab
  • Wash your tourniquets
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. If you can't, use new swabs to clean them, rubbing them in one direction to avoid putting any dirt or bacteria back on them

Adapted from the Australian Intravenous League (AIVL) Guide to Safe Injecting, July 2009

Needle and syringe program
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We run a free, self-service needle and syringe program at 6 Claremont Street, South Yarra.

Monday to Thursday: 9.00am - 9.00pm 
Fridays: 9.00am - 5.00pm

Another safe option is to buy sterile injecting equipment at a chemist.

HIV, injection and post exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
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Have you been exposed to HIV by sharing needles?

PEP is a course of anti-HIV drugs that may prevent you becoming HIV positive, if taken within 72 hours of exposure.

Phone: 1800 889 887
See: Get PEP now

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