An article based on a research paper
by Sam Friedman et al.
Looking at How Some IV Users Manage to
Become ‘Double Negatives’.
In some climates where disturbingly high rates of infection exist, what key things are people doing in their daily using lives that conspire to keep them free from infection when so many of our peers become positive. Sam Friedman et al looked into this subject and found some consistent factors
A brief BP comment before we introduce Sams article; We are always focusing on just HOW we end up getting blood borne viruses, and many of us have ended up getting, if not HIV then much more commonly, Hepatitis C (or B) -in some countries or prisons Hep C rates can be as high as 70-90% of all injectors. Yet we all know people who have managed to inject drugs for decades yet have avoided becoming infected with anything. Sam Friedman et al has turned the usual research approach on its head here and put our own drug using culture under the microscope – searching for the little gems -those habits or behaviours that WE have utilised to keep us safe from such infections, regardless of how long one has been injecting.
This is not about focusing on what ‘they did right and you did wrong’. No, this is about pulling
together the cultural threads and day to day choices one can make that helps to create the environment you need to protect your health. It is interesting to see how adopting a few strategies around your using lifestyle, can work to protect you from what can be extremely common infections. Of course in a world of prohibition, opportunities to choose a safer path can change dramatically overnight, such as a stay in prison. Sometimes, with all the knowledge and support in the world, you can just be damn unlucky, or have no control over transmission events.
However, it is worth looking at Friedmans research to see, against just such a prohibitionist backdrop, with perils around almost every corner, how our negative peers manage to stay negative -leaving us with the thought; “Can I incorporate some of these tactics/strategies/principles/street codes into my using life? Well yes you can -and all of these ‘tips’ are just as relevant for a positive person as well – after all, who wants to get re-infected? So, enough of the prologue, take it away Sam! PS -BP has added the odd hopefully useful comment in italics.
Staying Safe: How you and others might
avoid becoming infected with hepatitis C or
Most people who inject drugs get infected with hepatitis C within a few years (often their first few years of IV using). Some also get infected with HIV. This happens in spite of all the syringe exchange, pharmacy syringe distribution programs, drug treatment, and other harm reduction efforts they engage in—and all the ways they help each other to have safer and happier lives.