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Injection of Sodium Hypochlorite by Intravenous Drug Users

Geoffrey A. Froner; George W. Rutherford, MD; Michael Rokeach, MD
JAMA. 1987;258(3):325. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400030041022.
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To the Editor.—  A 5.25% solution of sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) effectively inactivates human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the causative agent of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.1-5 Intravenous drug users who share needles are at high risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV, and cleaning needles and syringes with household bleach is being used as a strategy to control HIV transmission in this group.6,7 The standard procedure includes flushing the syringe twice with undiluted household bleach and then twice with water. It has been suggested that toxic reactions following inadvertent injection of residual amounts of bleach in needles and syringes may be a possible reason for failure of this strategy. Although oral ingestion of household bleach is relatively nontoxic,8 little is known about its parenteral toxicity. We report a case of nontoxic intravenous bleach injection in an intravenous drug user attempting suicide.

Report of a Case.—  A 27-year-old man, who had


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