Question

During one night of poor decisions, I injected heroin. It was my first and last time doing it. I am concerned about my risk of being HIV+. A girl did everything for me after she did some for herself. The needle used was a fresh one (out of a bag with those little orange caps on each end) and I checked the bag of needles myself. The little piece of cotton used was fresh, as was the heroin that was boiled with the water but the spoon that this was done on was not. There was about a 10 minute gap between her injection and when she cooked up the stuff for me. I suppose I'm mainly concerned about the spoon. The girl who did it for me was recently tested for HIV and HepC and both came back neg. I'm just really really concerned that perhaps some HIV could have lingered on the spoon or does cooking it with the lighter help to kill it? Was the gap enough that any HIV might have been killed in the air on the spoon? Was my use of a clean needle good enough protection? Please help me, I'm absolutely freaking out.

Answer

As you have noted, injecting heroin is a bad idea for many reasons -- I'm glad to hear you have not done it again. There are ways to reduce harm for those that find themselves unable to stop injecting. It is most important to use sterile equipment. If that is not available cleaning with bleach is a secondary method that is helpful. While HIV is fragile when exposed to air, there is still, unfortunately, a risk of HIV transmission in the circumstances you described. Although your girlfriend tested negative it is possible she could seroconvert in the future. Assuming no further exposure, if you test negative after six months you can be comfortable that you were not exposed to HIV that night.