Blood Borne Viruses

There are a number of blood borne viruses (BBVs) that can be passed from person to person via injecting drug use, or as a result of risky behaviour from alcohol and other drug use [23505]. These include:

  • hepatitis C
  • hepatitis B
  • HIV.

If people who inject drugs share their equipment (needles, syringes, spoons, water or tourniquets) with other people, then there’s a chance they might be exposing themselves to a BBV [23505]. Some drug users might not realise they have a BBV, so it’s important to get tested regularly. To reduce the likelihood of passing on, or getting a BBV, there’s a few strategies that people can take:

  • keeping your hands and fingers clean
  • finding a clean area to inject in
  • using new needles and syringes
  • do not share injecting equipment
  • when finished, clean the injection area and safely dispose of all the equipment.

There are treatment options available for people who have hepatitis C. These treatments are combinations of Direct Acting Anti-viral (DAA) drugs, and are listed on the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Unlike previous treatment options, these drugs have been found to have a very high success rate (around 95%), and will remove the virus entirely from the body.

There is also some medicine now available to prevent HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) [34155]. This medicine comes in the form of a pill, taken daily, which will dramatically reduce the risk of getting HIV (but it won’t treat it). PrEP will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in 2018.


Key resources



Feeding the Family Pets by Brian Robinson

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