I HAVE just read an article on the Dispatch website, entitled ‘Alarmed Dad Warns Of Drugs Syringes Danger’, which also appeared in the paper.
The article talked about father-of-five Andrew Martin’s fears that discarded syringes “could put residents at risk of killer diseases, including HIV and hepatitis” and that local residents “would have to go through six months of testing and anxiety” if injured from a needle.
While I appreciate there are indeed dangers from discarded needles, Mr Martin’s fears only go to reinforce ignorance about HIV transmission and public understanding of this virus.
It is important to note that HIV cannot be transmitted from discarded needles. In fact, there has never been an incident anywhere in the world of a person being infected with HIV in this way. The HIV virus cannot survive when exposed to the environment.
Also, HIV is no longer considered a ‘killer disease’. It is classified as a chronic illness, along with diabetes and the like. It is ultimately a manageable long-term condition, and referring to it as a ‘killer’ reinforces unnecessary fear and misunderstanding in this virus.
I would also point out that Mr Martin’s comments that someone would have to go through six months of testing is simply wrong. HIV tests can now be taken from four weeks after potential infection and results can be given in as little as 20 minutes.