Sharing needles...sharing death
Life Foundation Community Health Outreach Program, Hawaii, USA, c.1994
AIDS appears personified as Death, bearing
needles infected with HIV, in this advertisement for a needle
exchange programme in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sharing needles is a common
cause of HIV transmission between intravenous drug users, as blood
drawn back into syringe after injecting may contain the virus.
Hepatitis B can also be transmitted this way. The only way to avoid
infection is to use clean injecting equipment, but the supply of
hypodermic needles is often limited in an attempt to control
illegal drug use. Needle exchange programmes, in which drug users
typically exchange one used syringe for each clean syringe, were
pioneered in Holland, and in some places gradually supplanted the
message that cleaning needles with bleach protected against
infection. Because of their problematic relationship to drug harm
prevention measures, needle exchanges remain controversial.