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What Works: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself if You Have Hep C or HIV and Inject Drugs

April 25, 2016

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Table of Contents

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Do You Have HIV or Hep C? Do You Inject Drugs?

If you answered yes, this resource is for you. Keep reading!

What Are Hep C and HIV?

hep C is an infection that attacks your liver. It is in your blood.

HIV is also an infection in your blood. It is also in some other body fluids. HIV makes it difficult for your body to fight infections. That means you can get sick more easily and more often.

hep C and HIV are diseases that can make you very sick if you do not get health care for them.

This resource has information on how to take care of yourself and keep others safe if you have hep C or HIV and inject drugs.

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Finding Out You Have Hep C or HIV Can Be Difficult

Give yourself some time to take in the news.

Talking to a friend or family member may help.

Lots of people can stay healthy and live for a long time with hep C or HIV.

When you are ready, here are some things you can do:

  • Talk to a nurse or health worker.
  • Talk to other people who are living with hep C or HIV.
  • Ask your doctor about treatment for hep C or HIV.

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Things You Can Do to Stay Healthy

Having hep C or HIV is hard on your body, but you can do many things to stay healthy. You can:

  • Drink water
  • Sleep enough
  • Eat as well as you can
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling

Using drugs, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are also hard on your body. Some people decide to change their use after they find out they have hep C or HIV. Talk to a nurse or a health worker if you want to make a change. They can help you.

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Taking Medicines for Hep C or HIV

There are medicines that can treat hep C. These medicines can cure hep C.

There are medicines that can treat HIV. They can't cure HIV but they can help you stay healthy for a long time.

To learn more about these treatments, talk to a doctor, nurse or support worker.

CATIE has another resource called Treat Me Right that has information about treatment for people who have hep C or HIV and inject drugs.

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Getting Tested Regularly

hep C and HIV can pass from one person to another in the same way.

So, if you already know you have hep C, it's a good idea to get tested regularly for HIV. If you know you have HIV, it's a good idea to get tested regularly for hep C.

You may also want to get tested for Hep A, Hep B and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) regularly.

A nurse or doctor at a clinic can give you these tests. They can also tell you how often to get tested.

To find out where to get tested, ask your health worker or call CATIE at 1-800-263-1638.

Tips for Getting a Blood Test if You Have Bad Veins

The tests for hep C and HIV are blood tests. Getting blood tests can be difficult if you have bad veins, but there are things you can do to make the test easier:

  • Show the nurse or doctor your best veins.
  • Warm your body by taking a shower and wearing warm clothes to your blood test.
  • Drink 2 or 3 glasses of water 1 or 2 hours before your test.
  • Ask for a finger-prick test for HIV.
  • Bring a friend for support.
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This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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