Safer Snorting: Hepatitis C prevention

    The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood-borne virus, and can cause long-lasting liver disease. About 35,000 people in Ontario have Hepatitis C (Hep C) and don’t even know it. Unlike HIV, Hep C can last for days outside of the body on hard surfaces. It can be transmitted even when you don’t see any blood and (if you snort drugs) even if your nose doesn’t feel raw.

    If you’re HIV-positive, you have a greater risk of getting Hep C. Hep C infection can also make your HIV treatment more difficult to manage. Most people who are infected with Hep C will not show symptoms for years. People who are infected with both Hep C and HIV are at a greater risk for developing liver cancer.

    Unlike Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, there's no vaccine for Hep C, but early testing means that you have more Hep C treatment options.

    Snorting drugs damages the protective lining inside your nose, making it more irritated and raw the more you snort. This puts you at a greater risk for getting or passing on Hep C. Tiny, microscopic amounts of blood can pass from your nose to snorting devices (bills, straws) and can be enough to transmit Hep C. Cocaine has a numbing effect, and both it and other 'uppers' (like crystal meth) can make you more confident or impulsive than you might other wise be. So you might take more risks. Early research findings suggest you can transmit Hep C through the moist secretions lining the inside of your nose.

    Safer Snorting for Hep C prevention:

    • Don’t share rolled bills or straws for snorting drugs like cocaine ,crystal meth, or crushed-up pills.

    • Use your own straw. You can get them from ACT outreach workers. You can also find them for free in most fast food restaurants. Cut them in half and take them with you when you go clubbing. Straws are better than bills, which carry many germs and which can lead to sinusitis (sinus infection).

    • It’s a good idea to rinse your nose (nasal douche) by snorting water before and after railing (snorting). You can do this by filling your hand with warm water from the tap and inhaling through your nose. Do this for each nostril. This will also move lining-damaging excess substances along your nasal passage. Do this until you feel some of the water move down the back of your throat.

    • If you don’t have a straw, snort bumps on your own hand, or your own keys – not your friends.

    Snorting is not the only way to catch Hep C. If you inject drugs, the needles, cookers, filters, tourniquets, or anything else that comes into contact with blood can transmit Hep C. To avoid this, always use your own. You can get these in Toronto through The Works. You can also call The Works at 416-392-0520 to make an appointment to get needles, cookers, filters or tourniquets. Hep C can be transmitted from injection equipment used for injecting Botox, hormones and steroids, if the equipment used is shared for these procedures.

    If you think you’ve been infected with Hep C, get tested. Check out Hassle Free Clinic, and call to make an appointment: Men and Trans clinic: 416-922-0603. Women and Trans clinic: 416-922-0566. You can also be tested by request through a family doctor. Contact either your general practitioner or visit a walk-in clinic. Unlike HIV, anonymous testing for Hep C is not available.

    For more information on Hep C visit:

    Download the Safer Snorting Condom Insert:

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