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Safer Needle & Razor Information

Sharing Needles

The HIV virus can be transmitted by infected blood and blood products, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, and inutero (from mother to fetus). While unprotected penetrative sex (penile, vaginal or anal) is the most common means of transmitting HIV, sharing needles which carry HIV-infected blood is the second most common means of transmitting HIV. HIV is the virus which causes AIDS.

Sharing needles includes:

Medical and Body Decoration Uses

  • insulin injections for diabetics
  • tattooing
  • scarification
  • ear and body piercing

Drug Usage

  • injection steroid use
  • heroin (smack)
  • cocaine
  • speed

"Sharing needles in any of these activities is risky and potentially enables you to become HIV infected. Don't use needles. If you do, don't share. If you share, clean your needles".
(San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

Cleaning Needles

Safer needle cleaning involves using a ten-to-one water-to-bleach solution. Needles need to remain in the solution for at least 30 seconds. In hollow needles (the ones used for injection) the needle, syringe, and cotton need to hold the bleach solution for 30 seconds. The procedure must be repeated at least four times.


Sharing razors is also a risky behavior and a potential source of HIV infection. Razors are sometimes shared by:

  • athletes before swim meets or body building competitions.
  • those within domestic or group living arrangements.
  • by sexual partners for pubic hair or body shaving.

Do Not Share Razors!


People interested in tattooing or in body piercing can reduce their risk of infection by going to parlors, which are certified as using standard procedures EACH time the procedure is performed. Standard procedures are methods used to reduce the risk of infection transmission. In New York State, these parlors usually display a certificate which indicates they use clean needles. You should go only to tattoo and piercing parlors that display these certificates.

Piercing or tattooing each other is not recommended!