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Injecting Hormones and Steroids ?

What are hormone and steroid injections?

Hormones and steroids can be injected into the body to make people look more feminine or masculine, to improve athletic performance, or for medical reasons. Sometimes people share needles when they inject hormones or steroids.

What we know about hormone and steroid injecting:

About 1 out of every 10 HIV diagnoses in the United States is from injection drug use. The average chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV from a needle stick when the needle is known to contain HIV-infected blood is 24 out of 10,000 exposures.

Hepatitis B and C are viruses that infect the liver. Many people with hepatitis B or C don't know they have it because they don't feel sick. Even if you don't feel sick, you can transmit the virus to others. The only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis B or C is to get tested. Your health care provider will recommend a hepatitis B or C test if you have risk factors for these infections, such as injection drug use. If you don't have a health care provider, click here to find contact information for your local health department.

There are medicines to treat hepatitis B. If you've never had hepatitis B, there's a vaccine to prevent it. There are medicines to treat hepatitis C, but they aren't right for everyone. There's no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about hepatitis B and C.

What you can do

A syringe and needle with a biohazard sharps container

You shouldn't inject any substance into your body that isn't prescribed for you by a health care provider. If you keep injecting hormones or steroids, here are some things you can do to lower your risk for getting or transmitting HIV and other infections:

  • Use only new sterile needles and works each time you inject. Many communities have needle exchange or syringe services programs where you can get new, sterile needles, works, and other supplies (e.g., alcohol pads), as well as health care services. Some pharmacies may also sell needles without a prescription.
  • Use only your own sterile needles. Never share needles or works. +

    Be aware that HIV can survive in a used needle for up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.

  • Clean used needles with bleach only when you can't get new ones. Bleaching a used needle may reduce the risk of HIV but doesn't eliminate it. Needle exchange and syringe services programs often give out free bleach kits and can teach you how to use the kit. Here are instructions on bleaching needles.
  • Clean your skin with a new alcohol swab before you inject.
  • If you inject around other people, be careful not to get someone else's blood on your hands or your needle or works.
  • Dispose of needles safely after one use. Use a sharps container or make sure to keep used needles away from other people. Some communities may have drop boxes where you can dispose of your used needles safely.

Learn about other things you can do to prevent getting or transmitting HIV. +

  • Get tested for HIV. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and that people with certain risk factors get tested more often. People with more than one sex partner, people with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and people who inject drugs are likely to be at high risk and should get tested at least once a year.
    If you're HIV-positive and taking antiretroviral therapy (ART), take your medicines as directed by your health care provider. If you learn that you have HIV, the most important thing you can do is to take ART the right way, every day. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they've had the virus or how healthy they are. Being on ART and taking it the right way, every day lowers the amount of HIV (viral load) in your body. If your ART is working, you can stay healthy for many years, and greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to someone who's HIV-negative.
  • Consider taking daily medicine to prevent HIV (called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP). If you've injected drugs to get high in the past 6 months and during that time you've either shared needles or works or been in drug treatment, PrEP may be right for you. Talk to your health care provider about PrEP. If you don't have a health care provider, click here to find contact information for your local health department.