What Diseases Can You Get From a Used Needle?

Those who often come in contact with needles most likely have all had the same question: What diseases can you get from a used needle? It’s a concern for health care workers, considering that around 385,000 sharps injuries happen every year in medical settings. Drug users are even more at risk of catching infectious diseases, with 10% of new HIV infections coming from sharing needles when injecting drugs.

To help you keep yourself safe, we’ll highlight the most common STDs and other infectious diseases you can contract from used needles and what to do if you get a needle injury. 

How Is a Disease Transmitted by Needles?

Needles can transmit diseases when they come into contact with bloodborne pathogens in a person’s blood or bacteria in the environment. The pathogens can transfer to another person’s system from sharing the needle or an accidental injury.  How long is a needle contaminated? Diseases like hepatitis B can live on the surface of a needle for up to one week in certain conditions, so the risk of infection can still be high even days after use. 

One of the most common ways diseases spread through needles is when an infected person injects illegal drugs and another person uses the same needle. According to the World Health Organization, drug injections cause 1 in 3 deaths from hepatitis C globally.

Nurses, first responders, housekeepers, and custodians also worry about getting a needle stick injury in their occupations. While health care workers handle needles when treating patients, other workers are at risk when cleaning or picking up trash where used needles are lying around. These injuries look like pinpricks. If you have concerns about a needle injury, a rapid STD test can give you quick results and peace of mind.

What STDs Are Transmitted by Needles?

STDs spread through contact with bodily fluids containing bacteria, viruses, or parasites, typically during sex or intimate contact. However, STDs can also spread nonsexually, such as during childbirth, blood transfusions, or sharing needles. 

Since most pathogens typically don’t live long outside the body, the chance of catching a disease from a used needle is usually low. Drug users that share needles for injections are the most at risk. The most common STDs spread through used needles include hepatitis A, B, and C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 

Hepatitis A, B, and C

Hepatitis A, B, and C are viruses that cause liver inflammation, which can eventually become life-threatening if they develop into chronic illnesses. Hepatitis A spreads through close contact with an infected person or contaminated food and water. Blood transmission of Hepatitis A is much less common than Hepatitis B or C, which both frequently spread through sharing needles. 

Hepatitis B and C can survive outside the human body for days or weeks, depending on the temperature, etc. The chance of catching one of these viruses from a contaminated needle is 30% for hepatitis B and 3% for hepatitis C


HIV is a virus that weakens your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight off other infectious diseases. HIV is incurable, but proper treatment allows infected individuals to live a long and healthy life. AIDS, the life-threatening stage of an HIV infection, can develop when the immune system suffers severe damage, but the disease doesn’t usually progress while receiving treatment. 

The virus typically spreads through sexual contact and sharing injection drug needles. The risk of transmitting HIV through syringe reuse among injection drug users is very high. The CDC reports that an individual has a 1 in 160 chance of contracting HIV every time they use the same needle as an infected person. 

Other STDs (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis)

While less likely than hepatitis B and C or HIV, it’s also possible to contract STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis from contaminated needles. Healthcare workers have less risk because of the sterile environment, but people sharing needles to inject drugs could spread these bacterial infections if their bodily fluids are on the needle. 

The Rapid STD Testing website provides helpful information on the transmission of STDs, including the likelihood of contracting AIDS from mosquitos

Symptoms of a Needle Infection Injury

Detecting disease transmission from a needle injury can be tricky since many infections have a long incubation period or lack symptoms. Blood tests are the best way to check for infections after exposure to an STD. Rapid STD Testing offers same-day STD testing to help people learn their infection status as soon as possible. 

In some cases, needle injuries can cause symptoms that indicate an infection, including:

  • Redness surrounding the injury site
  • Swelling of the injury site or lymph nodes
  • Skin that’s warm to the touch
  • Fevers, sweating 
  • Sudden severe illness

Hepatitis A, B, and C, as well as HIV, are the diseases most likely to transmit through needle injuries or shared injection equipment. Knowing the symptoms of these STDs can help you recognize an infection and when it’s time to get an STD test. 

The following are symptoms of acute (first stage) HIV:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Mouth ulcers

The symptoms of hepatitis A, B, and C are mostly the same and include the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea (Hepatitis A only)

What You Should Do After an Accidental Needle Stick

The risk of getting a disease like HIV or hepatitis C from an accidental needle stick is low, but it’s important https://davidicke.com/xanax-online/ to handle the situation safely. The infection risk depends on how much contaminated blood you come into contact with and the viral count in the blood. 

If a needle sticks you, quickly follow these steps:

  • Clean the wound with soap and water
  • Flush your eyes, nose, and mouth with water to wash away any splashes
  • Notify your supervisor or health and safety personnel
  • Immediately go to your doctor or the emergency room

The doctor will determine your risk of infection and administer treatments such as immunization shots for diseases like hepatitis B or tetanus, virus inhibitors, or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV. Getting regular health checks after your needle injury will help you catch any infections. Our 10-Panel STD test can detect diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and chlamydia. 

Accidents happen, but preventative measures can help reduce needle injury incidents. When handling needles, follow these tips to protect yourself from infectious diseases:

  • Always use clean needles and don’t share them with anyone
  • Don’t rush when using and disposing of needles
  • Use needle safety equipment
  • Don’t recap the needle before throwing it away
  • Use sharps containers for safe disposal

Stay Sharp and Test for STDs

Hopefully, this article has answered the question, “What diseases can you get from a used needle?” At Rapid STD Testing, we provide essential information about STDs to help you stay safe, including subjects like how STD testing works and donating blood if you have herpes

To take an STD test, find a Rapid STD Testing location near you or call us at 866-872-1888 for more information.