Did you find a syringe?


Don’t panic!

  • There has never been a reported case of HIV transmission via a community-found accidental needle stick (CFSASN). [Journal of Public Health 2013]
  • The risk of Hepatitis B and C transmission from a CFSANS is “practically negligible.” [British Medical Journal 2015]
  • “Needlestick injuries in non-healthcare settings are uncommon and the risk from any needlestick resulting in chronic disease is very small.” [Commission on Health and Safety and Workers Compensation 2015]


Here’s what to do:


  • Force needles or sharps into a container
  • Put fingers inside a container
  • Bend, break, recap, or remove the needle.
  • Leave the needle unattended. If you must leave to get disposal supplies, ask another person to keep watch to avoid an accidental stick.


  • Stay calm!
  • Make sure you can see and move the needle around.
  • Bring your sharps container TO the needle, not the other way around. If you do not have a medical-grade sharps container, you may substitute a liquid laundry detergent bottle.


  1. Put on gloves!
  2. Place the container on the ground beside the syringe.
  3. Pick up the syringe by the middle of the barrel using tongs or gloved hands, whichever provides the most control.
  4. Place the syringe into the sharps container, sharp end first.
  5. Secure the lid of your sharps container.
  6. Remove your gloves and wash your hands.

AS A LAST RESORT: you can dispose of the used syringes/sharps in a heavy duty plastic bottle such as a laundry detergent bottle and tape the lid shut. (Do not use coffee cans – they are not puncture resistant.) On the outside of the bottle, where it can be easily seen, write “WARNING: BIOHAZARD – DO NOT RECYCLE” on the outside and then place in the household trash. OR you can bring it to our outreach van and we will incinerate it for you!


What’s the real risk?

The real public health risk comes when people who use drugs don’t have access to sterile syringes due to legislative restrictions limiting access. This led directly to the worst HIV outbreak in history in Scott County, Indiana, as well as our national Hepatitis C epidemic. Syringe service programs decrease transmission by over 70%.

Information provided by our friends at the Indiana Recovery Alliance.