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HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection

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countrygrace:
Two years ago my friend (and drug buddy) told only me and his parents that he was diagnosed HIV+ and asked me to keep his secret. We both do sobriety and all that for a while.

Fast forward to this year. We've relapsed, we're living together. He's very inconsistent in taking his meds, and stopped taking them completely in October.

I've seen him share needles with several people and he never says anything to them about his HIV status. Sometimes he bleaches them first sometimes he doesn't. I've kept his secret but it's really getting to me that he's showing no regard for our friends' lives. These are people that he's known for years, they TRUST him and would never think to question his actions.

My conscience is eating at me, I feel like since I know that he is HIV+ that I have a responsibility to inform these people. When do I step in and say something? Or do I just assume that as drug users they are responsible for knowing the risks and choosing to use safely or not?


What would you do?


texaninnyc87:
That's tricky. First of all I would try to talk to him seriously about his meds. I know with addiction things like that can easily fall by the wayside, but the bottom line is if he's undetectable the risk of him transmitting via needle sharing will go down a lot. Your friend obviously trusts you and it seems like you two have been through a lot together so hopefully you will feel comfortable enough to talk to him and he will value your input enough to really listen. Even though you see him directly putting other people at risk, his status is really only his to disclose. It must be very hard to see him putting your friends in harms way and feel like theres no way you can say anything. Perhaps you should just be extra diligent about always using clean needles. Maybe make sure to have plenty around and always have cleaning materials on hand when you know you're going to be using with him and others? Insist on always doing this with everyone, that way it wont seem like you're singling him out or bringing up his issues in front of others. I'm by no means an expert on needle etiquette or heroin but i'm sure someone else on here will have better advice. I think you really just need to talk to your friend and tell him why you're worried about both him and the people he is putting at risk. He might not like it, but hopefully he'll want to prevent others from dealing with the difficulties he is facing being a heroin addict and simultaneously positive. Hope this was helpful in some way. Good luck.

Ann:

--- Quote from: countrygrace on February 16, 2013, 12:46:02 PM ---
Or do I just assume that as drug users they are responsible for knowing the risks and choosing to use safely or not?

What would you do?


--- End quote ---

That's what I'd do. If they're sharing needles with him, who knows who else they're sharing with and yes, it's their responsibility to decide what they put in their bodies.

They're at a high risk for hep C infection as well. Does your friend ask them about their hep C status? Has he ever tested for hep C?

While it's not your job to disclose your friend's hiv status to other people, you could maybe start a discussion about harm reduction when sharing needles, perhaps talking about hep C.

But it's not your place nor your right to disclose for him. That's on him.

By the way, do you know your own hiv and hcv status?

Ann

oksikoko:
Your friend should definitely be telling them. They should also not be sharing needles. But we all do things we shouldn't.

If you're really concerned about your friend and the other friends, how about picking up a packet of syringes from the drugstore and making them available? They're about $3 for a packet, though, yeah, I know not everyone has $3, and yeah, I know you may not want to enable. Most people don't share needles because they want to (Though some do. Bloodslam, anyone?). There are usually just not enough clean ones around.

Bleaching is not a solution. Even for needles you're going to reuse on yourself. They're intended for one use, and they go blunt which has its own issues. The amount of mis-information that passes from one user to the next on the proper way to slam (haha, proper way to slam) is terrifying. I'm surprised there aren't more deaths, but it speaks more to the resilience of the human body than to the expertise of users.

How would we feel if this were sex? If you knew your friend were having unprotected sex with people and not telling them he was positive, would you tell them? Would you make condoms available?

oksikoko:

--- Quote from: texaninnyc87 on February 16, 2013, 12:59:39 PM ---I'm by no means an expert on needle etiquette or heroin but i'm sure someone else on here will have better advice. I think you really just need to talk to your friend and tell him why you're worried about both him and the people he is putting at risk. He might not like it, but hopefully he'll want to prevent others from dealing with the difficulties he is facing being a heroin addict and simultaneously positive. Hope this was helpful in some way. Good luck.

--- End quote ---

I assumed meth.

"hopefully he'll want to prevent others from dealing" → I don't know anything about the original poster, and I don't mean to imply anything. But, there are people for whom the act of infecting others is part of the thrill. There are people for whom getting infected is part of the thrill. Sometimes they find each other, and sometimes other people just land in the middle.

I assume and always have that everyone is positive, and I recommend to anyone reading these boards who is negative but who is involved in high-risk sex or drugs to do the same. The number of people who told me they were negative (even though I had already seen their pills or (uh oh) been with them before and they forgot that I knew they were positive) is a lot higher than even I'd expect, and I don't have high expectations.

There are people whose eyes gleamed when I told them I had converted, saying "I bet it was me, right?" "If you got my strain, it's a strong one." People brag about their toxicity. My initial VL was praised for being in the 6 digits, and I was propositioned more than I ever have been in my life during the brief period between diagnosis and Stribild. Everyone may not understand these cultures, but they exist. I make no moral claims on them, but just be aware of what you're getting into.

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