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Author Topic: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?  (Read 66190 times)

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Offline dot3434

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  • Posts: 12
Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« on: June 03, 2011, 10:25:39 am »
A friend told me if I ever shared a straw with a friend while doing coke that I am at risk for having Hepatitis C. is that true? How could you get Hep C from a straw?

Offline Tim Horn

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  • Posts: 51
Re: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2011, 02:03:11 pm »
Yes, there is a chance -- albeit, a very low chance -- of being infected with the hepatitis C virus through sharing drug-snorting paraphernalia.

Even though hepatitis C is a disease of the liver, the virus also circulates in the bloodstream. Snorting drugs, such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine, can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the nose, potentially resulting in microscopic traces of blood being deposited onto the tip of the straw (or rolled-up bill, etc.) being used. If you're sharing snorting paraphernalia with someone who is infected with hepatitis C -- and it's important to keep in mind that many people living with HCV don't even know they have the virus -- you may be inadvertently snorting HCV-infected blood droplets along with the drug you're sharing, potentially leading to transmission of the virus.

Sharing snorting paraphernalia isn't a common mode of HCV transmission, but it has happened.

Tim Horn   

Offline dot3434

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  • Posts: 12
Re: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2011, 02:12:43 pm »
Thank you Tim. I didn't know that!

Offline flower-child-68

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  • Posts: 13
Re: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2011, 05:00:02 pm »
That's ridiculous and fear mongering. What are the real chances of getting hep this way? A million to one? Come on people.

Offline Ann

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Re: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2011, 08:39:45 am »
That's ridiculous and fear mongering. What are the real chances of getting hep this way? A million to one? Come on people.

With all due respect, cautioning people about sharing straws for snorting drugs is far from ridiculous scaremongering.

Hep C is a very infectious virus - much, much more infectious than hiv for example - and there are far more people living with hep C world-wide than hiv. While you'd never get hiv from sharing a straw to snort drugs, being infected with hep C from a straw used this way is a very real possibility.

There are many, many hcv positive people whose only possible risk factor was sharing straws. It's a simple thing to advise people to use their own straw, so where's the harm if it could save someone from having to deal with hep C infection?

Offline koreanvet

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  • Posts: 2
Re: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2011, 05:40:47 pm »
Bloody straws? Sounds a little far fetched but I guess it doesn't hurt to raise the awareness. Just not sure anyone doing cocaine is going to be clear headed enough to think of this.

Offline Tim Horn

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  • Posts: 51
Re: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2011, 08:37:31 pm »
While the risk of contracting hep C from sharing a straw to snort cocaine (or meth or heroin) isn't what the CDC considers to be a high-risk activity, as Ann says, it's been the only risk factor reported by some people with chronic HCV infection -- they don't report injecting drugs, have never had a blood transfusion or been on dialysis, never got a tattoo under questionable circumstances and didn't report engaging in high-risk sexual activity.

Ann makes an excellent point -- its not uncommon for there to be 8 to 10 times as much HCV in a droplet of blood compared with, say, HIV. Also consider the fact that the vast majority of people living with HCV are not on treatment, hence the amount of virus in their bloodstream basically remains high for years... often decades. And while HCV is a blood borne pathogen -- whereas HIV can be transmitted via semen and breast milk -- the fact that there's so much virus in the blood makes it relatively easy to transmit... even through seemingly benign situations like sharing straws or rolled-up bills to snort drugs.

The point here isn't necessarily that public health departments should be doing everything in their power to stop straw sharing -- though such messaging doesn't hurt -- but rather to point out that it IS a risk factor and that anyone who has snorted (or injected) drugs using shared paraphernalia should probably consider a simple blood test to rule out HCV infection.

Tim

Offline fullof?

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  • Posts: 15
Re: Get Hep C from sharing a cocaine straw?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2011, 03:00:27 pm »
I was recently at a party where my friends were talking about this. I told them they were crazy but one friend insisted this was a risk factor and that anyone who has shared a cocaine straw should get tested. Thanks so much for this thread and information. I had no idea and I bet a whole bunch of other people are clueless too.

 


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