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Controlling Disease Transmission in Injection Drug Users

Brigid Kane
Ann Intern Med. 1999;130(6):541-544. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-130-6-199903160-00101
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Blood-borne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV), are readily transmitted by sharing drug injection equipment. HIV remains viable and infectious for as long as 3 to 5 weeks in used syringes and other injection equipment containing HIV-positive blood (J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1999; 20:73-80). The hepatitis viruses are assumed to be at least as durable as HIV in used injection equipment, although experiments to establish this point have not been done. The potential for becoming infected from a single exposure to an HIV-contaminated needle or syringe is estimated to be 0.67% (J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1992; 5:1116-8), and the risk for infection among health care workers from an HIV-contaminated needlestick, including intramuscular and subcutaneous injections, is 0.3% (Ann Intern Med. 1990; 113:740-6). Parallel data for HBV and HCV, derived from needlestick injury studies in the health care setting conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimate the risk to be 30% and 3%, respectively.





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