Needles not disposed of properly can greatly increase the likelihood of exposure to infectious diseases like HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Sadly, many who suffer from a substance use disorder do not take the necessary safety precautions when injecting drugs.
HIV is such a high risk for IV drug users because the virus can remain in a used needle for up to 42 days, depending on temperature and other factors. There's also a risk of other infections being transmitted through contaminated blood, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Once someone has used a needle, viruses in their blood may contaminate it. This includes needles used to inject illegal drugs.
Sharps can include other medical supplies, such as syringes, scalpels and lancets, and glass from broken equipment. Blood can also contaminate these.
Injuries from needles used in medical procedures are sometimes called needle-stick or sharps injuries.
For more information on Bloodborne Pathogens & viruses transmitted through body fluids, please check out our Biohazard Removal Page.
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