AskNadia: Am I Being Lied to About Lancets and Hepatitis

Dear Nadia,

I’ve used a lancet drum with six lancets that I was told to reuse. I’ve had the same drum for probably three years. It’s dull, and I need to change it. My fingers are sore. I’ve never even considered reusing my needles. I spend a lot of money on needles. I know I’ve been told there is a risk for hepatitis if you reuse your needle. Have I been lied to?

Dear Summer,

The risk of getting hepatitis depends on several factors.
You did not mention which hepatitis virus you were concerned about. For clarification purposes, I will list the different viruses then answer your question.

Definition of The Different Hepatitis Viruses

Hepatitis A is communicable when a person does not have the vaccination and is exposed to eating unsanitary food, drinking unsanitary water, partaking in recreational drugs, traveling to areas where the virus is contagious, living with an infected person or having sex with a carrier.

Once infected with the virus, it incubates from 14 to 28 day. There is no inoculation to treat Hepatitis A. Recovery time may take up to several months, and Acetaminophen / Paracetamol needs to be avoided

Hepatitis B is contracted sexually through infected semen and blood, prenatally or as a child. It has been listed as the leading cause of liver disease and commonly found in Asia, Africa, Middle East and the Pacific Islands. The World Health Organization lists Hepatitis B as a world health issue with 2 billion people infected globally; prenatal infection contributes to a smaller percentage of diagnosis.

Treatment for Hepatitis B does not rid the body of the virus. It just prevents it from progressing or damaging the liver.

Hepatitis C is transmittable prenatally, as a child, by sharing needles from recreational drugs, having sex with a person infected with the virus and infected blood transferred from sharing a toothbrush or razor.

Acute Hepatitis is when you have the virus for less than six months, and treatment can be delayed to see if your immune system fights the virus two months’ post-diagnosis.

Chronic Hepatitis C is when your immune system cannot fight the virus after two months and treatment depends on which strain you have. A dietary change and combination therapy are recommended to minimize any further damage. The length of treatment depends on which medications are being used to treat the virus.

Risk for Hepatitis if You Reuse Your Needle

Hepatitis A, B, and C are transmittable through an exchange of blood. If someone has hepatitis and is using your lancets or syringes, you may be at risk for developing hepatitis. However, if you are being diagnosed in the early stages, less than two months, there is a chance your immune system may fend off the virus. If you continue to test positive for the virus after two months, then you are at risk as a chronic hepatitis c carrier. Treatment may take 24 to 48 weeks depending on which virus you are carrying. During treatment your healthcare professional may advise you against the re-reuse of syringes or lancets as a precaution to prevent the possibility of getting re-infected.

You are not being lied to about the possibilities of being infected from re-using your needles. Lancets are inexpensive when compared to the cost of strips. Personally, I think it’s best to err on the conservative side. Why risk adding anther chronic disease that requires management?

I hope this offers the insight you were looking for.


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Hepatitis B virus infection

Hepatitis B Virus Infection during Pregnancy: Transmission and PreventionTreating Hepatitis B




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Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.

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