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HIV Prevention: Safer Drug Use

Using drugs is a way some people cope with difficult situations, feelings, experiences and relationships. We welcome women at PWN whether they are using or not. What matters to us is that you get the support you need to live the healthiest life you can. For some women, stopping drug use is their goal. For other women, using less is their goal. If you use and have HIV, there are ways to keep yourself as healthy as possible.

The Body

HIV weakens the immune system, and so does using drugs, especially if you’re not eating or sleeping on a regular schedule. A weakened immune system means you are more likely to get sick and have a tough time dealing with infections or viruses. If you’re going to use, learn about HIV transmission and make it as safe as you can. Taking HIV treatment and using can cause complications. Be honest with your doctor about what you use and when so they can help find the best treatment plan.

  • Learn what to expect from your drugs – what will you feel? How will it affect how you talk and move? Learn about overdose symptoms.
  • Have your own equipment if at all possible, and don’t lend or borrow stuff. Sharing needles, cookers, pipes, and cotton can put you at risk for infections, Hepatitis C or other blood- borne illnesses.
  • Use a fresh needle every time. Look after your veins by rotating where you inject. Injecting in the same spot over and over again can irritate your veins and lead to infection.
  • Vancouver area people can access Insite, a supervised injection site.

The Mind

When you’re not high, think about what you can do for the next time you want to be. How do you make it safer? Thinking about it beforehand could help. When you’re using drugs, safer sex is less likely to happen. Carry condoms so you have them if you need them.

Reducing the amount you use and how often you use can help your health a lot. We can help.

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