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Author Topic: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection  (Read 2426 times)

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Offline countrygrace

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HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« on: February 16, 2013, 12:46:02 PM »
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?



Offline texaninnyc87

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Re: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2013, 12:59:39 PM »
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.
Dxd: 9/11/12
Blot confirmed: 11/12
12/12 cd4: 280 (20%) vl: 129,000
1/13 $tribild
2/13 cd4: 350 (26%) vl: 80
4/13 cd4: 510 (29%) vl:: 35
6/13cd4 350 (31%) vl: 21
9/13 cd4 492 (30%) vl: ud
12/13 cd4 846 (36%) vl: 100
1/14 cd4 480 (31%) vl: UD
3/14 cd4 650 (33%) vl: UD
6/14 cd4 410 (35%) vl: UD

Offline Ann

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Re: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2013, 01:03:40 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?


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
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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

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Offline oksikoko

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Re: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2013, 10:12:58 PM »
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?
Code: [Select]
2013-10-03:                ☣ VL (=) undetectable ☣ CD4 (+) 1105
2013-05-23:                ☣ VL (=) undetectable ☣ CD4 (-) 945
2013-02-25:                ☣ VL (-) undetectable ☣ CD4 (+) 1123
2012-12-16: Enter Stribild
2012-11-20: HIV+           ☣ VL (→) 132,683      ☣ CD4 (→) 920
2012-04-01: HIV-
Dates in this signature file conform to ISO 8601. ;-)

Offline oksikoko

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Re: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2013, 10:25:42 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.

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.
Code: [Select]
2013-10-03:                ☣ VL (=) undetectable ☣ CD4 (+) 1105
2013-05-23:                ☣ VL (=) undetectable ☣ CD4 (-) 945
2013-02-25:                ☣ VL (-) undetectable ☣ CD4 (+) 1123
2012-12-16: Enter Stribild
2012-11-20: HIV+           ☣ VL (→) 132,683      ☣ CD4 (→) 920
2012-04-01: HIV-
Dates in this signature file conform to ISO 8601. ;-)

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2013, 11:26:48 PM »
Participating in your friend's dishonesty will fuck up any chances you have to continue or restart your program. Assuming you want to .

If you want to get or stay sober again, you know you will have to get far. far away from this guy. Whether you want to keep his secret depends on how many bridges you want to burn. And of course, even if the other folks are OK with it, if you aren't then that's a huge harsh on the whole situation. And if you told, you need to consider that it might not make a bit of difference.

YOu could, of course, tell your friend that you are nor comfortable seeing his behavior. But then you would likely need to find another place to live.

You are in the middle of a snake pit. You can either complain that snakes are being snakes, or get out.

Your friend is doing IV drugs, not taking his meds, and sharing needles with other folks. Other consenting folks, of course. I can't imagine seeing all these people killing themselves wouldn't get depressing after awhile. Even if it's not "your" fault.



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Offline emeraldize

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Re: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2013, 09:56:06 AM »
Participating in your friend's dishonesty will fuck up any chances you have to continue or restart your program. Assuming you want to .

If you want to get or stay sober again, you know you will have to get far. far away from this guy. Whether you want to keep his secret depends on how many bridges you want to burn. And of course, even if the other folks are OK with it, if you aren't then that's a huge harsh on the whole situation. And if you told, you need to consider that it might not make a bit of difference.

YOu could, of course, tell your friend that you are nor comfortable seeing his behavior. But then you would likely need to find another place to live.

You are in the middle of a snake pit. You can either complain that snakes are being snakes, or get out.

Your friend is doing IV drugs, not taking his meds, and sharing needles with other folks. Other consenting folks, of course. I can't imagine seeing all these people killing themselves wouldn't get depressing after awhile. Even if it's not "your" fault.

I agree with what JK wrote -- aside from being depressing, at some level within you, this can't be tolerable. If it were, I don't think you'd have posted here.

The old adage, ' birds of a feather flock together ' has truth in it. If you're willing to take a long look and make a move in defense of your own life, you'll take flight -- even if it's uncomfy.

I can't do a what-would-I-do-in-your-situation response because I've not been in your exact scene. BUT, I can tell you that once I stopped blowing dope, I didn't know any other users, stopped drinking, wasn't around alcoholics, stopped smoking, and I wasn't hanging out with smokers. Stopping the habit has a way of moving you out of range quickly and quite naturally.

If you introduced me to your friend tomorrow, providing he doesn't pack a piece, I'd pull him aside and clearly say -- Fuck yourself up all you like -- to death if you wish, but don't knowingly take another addict down with you.  Oh and another thing, you and I could never be friends until you dropped your addictions, got back on your meds and made a choice to live.   (Understand, it is your decision to hang out with this 'friend'.)

Now, the other thing you can do without repercussion to you because the state folks across the board are bound to non-disclosure of such information, is contact the health department (whether local or state level) and explain what's happening. They can't do anything legally powerful, but they can write him a letter, he'll be on record from an infectious disesases perspective. The health department wants to know of souls who are infecting others.

The other saga-ending thing you could do if you feel very large in the testicular area is inform the police anonymously through a silent complaint. I would strongly suggest you get your ass out of the house permanently before doing that. While it seems an outrageous action you might save his life and the lives of those with whom he's shooting up. He's not doing so well is he? And sometimes the Higher Power comes through help from others -- watching him die is the other option it seems.

First things first, get your addictions addressed -- the sooner your veils lift, the better decisions you'll make and the faster you'll make them.

Offline mecch

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Re: HIV+ friend is sharing needles but not disclosing infection
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 12:37:37 AM »
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.

So, um, the ways HIV can be transmitted have been known for decades...  I am guessing all injection drug users are aware of the risks of needle sharing.  True?

People do risky things, despite knowing that they are doing risky things. 

I don't believe there can be a group of people sharing needles on a regular basis who truly trust that it is risk free, who truly TRUST each other, and "would never think to ask questions"....   But maybe you can enlighten...   To me, it sounds like willful denial...   We are all cable of that, so its not a judgement. 

This by way of saying, as an HIV+ person, I agree with Ann - we HIV+ people do NOT want people going around outing our HIV status. 

But you don't have to sit there silently.  First of all, protect yourself, of course.

And secondly, you can tell your friend exactly what you think about his behavior. 

Third, you can bring up health issues when any of these people are around, bring up the subject of doctors, risks, HIV, etc.  Whatever...  Obviously people don't want to talk about this, but tough shit, its bugging you, so putting such subjects on the table might provoke a round of questions... 

If someone asks your friend if he knows his HIV status, he might have an opportunity to reveal it, or lie about it.  If he lies in response to a direct question... Then you can decide, what are you going to do about this person being in your life?
« Last Edit: February 19, 2013, 12:39:17 AM by mecch »
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