Needles And Syringes

When caring for someone with AIDS, it’s important to learn how to safely handle needles and syringes.

Your loved one may need needles and syringes to take medicine for diseases caused by AIDS, for diabetes, hemophilia, and/or other illnesses. If you have to handle these needles and syringes, you must be careful not to prick yourself. Pricking yourself with a contaminated needle or syringe is one way you could become infected with HIV.

Safety Tips For Needle And Syringe Usage:

  • Use a needle and syringe only once.
  • Do not put caps back on needles.
  • Do not take needles off syringes.
  • Do not break or bend needles. If a needle falls off a syringe, use something like tweezers or pliers to pick it up; do not use your fingers.
  • Only touch needles and syringes by the barrel of the syringe. Hold the sharp end away from yourself.
  • Put used needles and syringes in puncture-proof containers. A doctor, nurse, or AIDS service organization can give you a special container. If you don’t have a special container, use a puncture-proof container with a plastic top, like a coffee can. Keep the containers in all rooms where you use needles and syringes. Put them well out of the reach of children or visitors, but easily accessible. When the container gets nearly full, seal it and get a new container. Ask a doctor how to dispose of the container full of used needles and syringes.

If you get stuck with a used needle, don’t panic. The chances are very good (better than 99 percent) that you won’t be infected. However, you need to act quickly to get medical care. Put the needle in the used needle container and wash the area where you pricked yourself as soon as possible. Right after washing, call a doctor or hospital emergency room—no matter what time it is—and explain what happened. Your doctor may want you to take medicine, such as AZT; if you’re going to take AZT, you should begin as soon as possible, within a few hours after being pricked.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Caring for Someone with AIDS at Home: A Guide, ACTIS Publication No. D817, United States Department of Health and Human Services, AIDS Clinical Trial Information Service.

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