Document Type


Publication Date



Bleach disinfection, Cleansing, Compliance, HIV-1, Injecting drug users, Needles, Syringes


Bleach cleansing of injection equipment has been recommended to reduce the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission associated with the reuse of injection equipment by injecting drug users (IDUs). We evaluated the recall and performance of the most commonly recommended bleach cleansing procedure of two complete fillings of the syringe with bleach, followed by two complete fillings with rinse water, and not putting used bleach and water back into source containers. IDUs were taught this procedure on enrollment in an HIV prevention demonstration project in Dade County, Florida. During follow-up session 6-12 months after initial training, the knowledge and ability of IDUs to perform bleach cleansing were assessed by trained observers using a standardized method. In 1988-90, we assessed the knowledge and ability of 450 IDUs to perform the bleach cleansing procedure taught at enrollment. More than 90% of IDUs assessed performed the basic steps. However, only 43.1% completely filled the syringe with bleach and only 35.8% completely filled the syringe with bleach at least twice. Substantial proportions of IDUs did not perform all the steps of the previously taught bleach cleansing procedure. Compliance decreased as the number of steps required was increased. This limited compliance may make bleach cleansing less effective and suggests that some IDUs may fail to adequately disinfect injection equipment and therefore sterile needles and syringes are safer than bleach-cleansed ones. Compliance testing can help assess the effectiveness of HIV prevention programs. © 1994 Raven Press, Ltd., New York.

Journal Title

Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes





First Page


Last Page


First Department

Behavioral Sciences


Free access article retrieved July 2, 2021 from