When people inject drugs intravenously, they may draw small amount of blood into the needle. If another person uses this needle immediately, the blood containing HIV will be injected into the second person. Thus, he/she can also be infected with HIV. Normally, people who are addicted to intravenous drugs form a group and share needles with each other. Thus, the infection can spread very rapidly from one to another in the same group. In India, intravenous drug abuse is the most important cause of HIV infection in Manipur.

Intravenous injections are sometimes necessary for management of several health problems. In case the health care provider has not sterilised the needles properly, and it had been used for a person who had HIV infection, there is a risk of spreading HIV infection to others. It is, however, important to remember that despite several reports about poor quality of health care delivery services in India, HIV infection through injections given at a health centre is not a common mode of transmission. This is mainly because HIV is destroyed by heat and drying. A large number of health professionals prefer to use disposable needles and syringes, thereby avoiding the risk of transmitting HIV. Some medical practitioners, especially those in rural areas who have not been trained in medical schools are reported to be practising poor sterilisation of needles and syringes. They however, boil them for a short time, which is adequate to kill HIV. Shorter boiling time for sterilising needles may not destroy other disease causing germs such as Hepatitis В virus. It is also important to remember that injections that are given in the muscles, under the skin or in the skin layers carry little risk of transmitting the HIV. They however can carry higher risk of transmitting infections such as Hepatitis B.

In recent times, there have been rumours that a some people who have HIV infection intentionally prick other people with infected needles in public places such as movie theatres, markets, bus-stops, etc., and therefore transmit the infection to them. These rumours are baseless. There are several reasons why the infection is not likely to be transmitted in this way. One, there should be adequate amount of blood containing the virus on the needle before it can cause infection. A needle that has been merely pricked in the body of a person with HIV is not likely to have the number of HIV necessary to cause infection. Two, even if the infected person were to use needle that has been used intravenously, the virus may not be alive if the blood on the needle has dried up. Three, when an infected needle is pricked into the muscles, the risk of transmitting the infection is very low.




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