Incorrect usage or sharing of needles further increases risk of bacterial and viral infections, such as Hepatitis C, as well as physical damage to the body and veins.
If you are going to slam, do it as safely as possible
If you choose to slam, it is good to understand the risks and do it as safely as possible. This includes:
1. Use condoms: This reduces your risk of getting infected with HIV and other STIs.
2. Take Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): This daily pill will prevent you from becoming infected with HIV, as long as you take it as prescribed. PrEP protects you from HIV but not other STIs. You can get free PrEP from TEN81 in Pretoria by calling 012 430 3272.
3. Don’t share needles: Use a new clean needle every time. This will protect you from picking up infections and bacteria from other users, such as Hepatitis C.
4. Use needles correctly: Learn how to inject properly and safely to avoid hurting or damaging your body.
Tips on injecting correctly
• Wipe the injection site once with a new swab.
• If needed, place the tourniquet around your upper arm, or above the injection site. Don’t leave it on too long; if you have trouble finding a vein, loosen the tourniquet, have a short rest, and try again.
• Running warm water over the injection site will usually help raise a vein. So will opening and closing your hand in a pumping action.
• Put the needle into your vein at a 30 to 45-degree angle, with the hole at the end of the needle facing upwards. Blood will appear in the syringe when you have found the vein.
• Pull back the plunger and blood should flow in to the syringe if the needle is correctly inserted. When you are sure the needle is properly inserted, gently loosen the tourniquet and slowly inject.
• When you are done, make sure the tourniquet is fully loosened and remove the needle from your arm. You should keep your arm straight and should apply pressure to the injection site (using a cotton ball, tissue or toilet paper) for a couple of minutes to minimise bruising.
The TEN81 clinic and the Step-UP Project in Pretoria offer free and confidential harm reduction services on substance use. Call us on 012 430 3272.