DEAR UN - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I am currently incarcerated! I did a course today with a Corrective Services Alcohol and Drug Worker - credit to her for bringing along a copy of User’s News! I managed to obtain a copy of User’s News today and have read it several times already - I love this mag! Today was the first time I have seen your mag since being locked up. Even the library doesn’t stock it and all the guys are lining up to read my mag once I am finished with it. I would love to be part of putting together a User’s News jail special.
I have no problem accessing Fincol (or drugs) in my wing but it is a nightmare trying to see the Clinic or get condoms. I won’t complain about my five week wait to see a nurse because apparently a call to the Health Care Complaints Commission is the quickest way to get moved to another area and I like where I am currently housed!
Anyway I wanted to write to you to ask how to become a member of NUAA and how to be sent User’s News.
Thanks so much for your letter and the story you sent with it. I am delighted you wrote to UN. I hope many other women and men currently living in prison write in with their experiences as well. Published Letters to the Editor pay $30. I will be in touch about getting that amount to you and whether we can use your story in an upcoming edition.
I am glad you are able to access Fincol. While there is no way to 100% sterilise a fit in jail, Fincol used properly can help you use more safely and can greatly reduce the risk of hep B, hep C and HIV if you use it properly. Just a reminder: if you are cleaning injecting, tattooing or piercing equipment with Fincol, it’s best to use it straight (undiluted) because it is the correct strength in the dispenser. A used fit should be flushed with fresh, cold tap water 3 times (hot water sets the blood). Take the fit apart and soak it in Fincol for 5 minutes. Flush and shake the fit with fresh, cold tap water 3 times. It’s great for tattooing and body piercing too.
Jails have a duty of care to provide condoms and lube. It’s an important health issue which should be taken very seriously by the Justice Health nurses and Corrective Services drug and alcohol workers. Next time you get to see them (Xmas?) just casually let them know “people” are having trouble finding condoms and lube.
I’m so pleased you want to be a member. This is how we are strongest, when we stand together as a community. We have sent you a membership form, please fill it out and get it back to us. The form asks you to have a member of NUAA nominate and second you. However, if you don’t know any members please don’t worry, just leave it blank. The Board of NUAA can support you in this.
Anyone can become a member of NUAA by writing to NUAA, PO Box 350, Strawberry Hills NSW 2012 or giving us a call on 02 8354 7300 and we will send out a form.
All members are currently eligible to receive all editions of UN in the mail. We send copies of some editions to general subscribers who don’t want to be members but want to receive the mag. We also send multiple copies of User’s News into every prison, usually to the Drug and Alcohol Worker and/or the Justice Health Nurse. However any inmate can ask us to send the mag directly to them, even if they don’t want to be a member, and most jails will allow delivery. Your very own copy of User’s News will now be sent to you Gino, so keep us updated with where you are so we can make sure we reach you with a copy every edition.
Take care, and thank you again.
I was devastated when I got home with the last bag of equipment from the NSP I use and went to mix up. Terumo fits have changed. My veins are really fiddly - from a lifetime of using as well as a stint of using in jail - yet I managed fine with the regular Terumos, but I find the new ones impossible to use.
A friend gave me nine of the old ones and I will have to make those do as long as I can. Since I use a few times a day, every day, and have done for years, this means I will be reusing. I haven’t reused a fit for years, the last time was in jail quite a way ago. I am caught between getting a vein and causing further damage.
A lot of people I know are having the same problem and I think Terumo needs to know that we are having trouble with this product. I don’t think the health of people who use drugs should be as disposable as the needles we use.
Dear Kasey ,
Thanks for your letter, you are not alone. The number of complaints NUAA has received would fill UN and it’s not only users at NUAA’s NSP that are complaining - Terumo has been receiving many complaints from across Australia.
The fit that is affected is the 27G 1ml combined needle and syringe. Why have Terumo changed this piece of equipment? The reason we were given at NUAA was that Terumo stopped manufacturing 1mls in the USA and moved the production to South Korea. Manufacturing standards were not supposed to change with this move but the reality has been very different. The specifications may be the same on paper but once you have used a new Terumo you can tell the difference. Common complaints have been that it’s harder to jack back and draw up with the new fits, they seem blunt and the packaging rips easily exposing the tip and contaminating it (see next page for detailed discussion of issues).
How are Terumo addressing the issues? We have been assured that the message has been finally driven home to Terumo. The level of customer dissatisfaction that has come from not only community organisations like NUAA, Harm Reduction Victoria and other drug user organisations but also health departments across the country has led Terumo to make assurances to suppliers that they are investigating solutions to the complaints, including sourcing fits that have been manufactured in Japan for the Australian market although this is not a long-term solution.
As of the date of writing this NUAA hasnot heard what the long-term solution will be. They are trying toaddress the quality issues in the Korean plant and may move manufacturers.
Re-using fits has many risks even if they are your own and is best avoided. Bacteria and viruses can be present even when you use your own fits, and the blunt tips will damage your veins making it harder in the future. You take an additional risk of contracting a viral infection like HIV or hepatitis C when you use someone else’s fit. If you have no other options, clean with new bleach prior to using the fit by soaking the fit for three minutes and rinsing thoroughly with cold water before and after soaking.
There are other options – talk to your local NSP to see what options they have. Many people prefer B & D fits, or you could use 1 ml barrells with detachable 27 or 29 gauge needles. We have these available at the NUAA NSP but you will need to see what options there are locally. These options may not be better than the fits you are used to, but may be better than the new Terumos and they’re definitely better than sharing or using blunt fits. Always make sure you don’t use a bloody thing!
Our best tips are to go gently with the new fits and carry a couple of spares in case one is defective. The new fits retain and leak blood from near the tip after use, so dispose of them carefully. Use a hard plastic fitpack to carry them and to dispose of used fits. A disposal container is something we should all get in the habit of using; it is essential to prevent passing on a blood borne virus. Practice makes perfect.
Let’s hope the situation is resolved soon. We’ll definitely keep you posted and keep checking www.nuaa.org.au for updates.