Although they are not provided by amfAR, your agency will want to consider providing tourniquets which are an excellent investment in the promotion of vein health for intravenous drug using participants. Tourniquets can be purchased through Safety Works, Total Access Group and in bulk through medical supply websites. Some resource-strapped programs promote latex gloves as an alternative to traditional tourniquets.
Information taken directly from “Guide to Developing and Managing Syringe Access Programs” by Harm Reduction Coalition, 2010
Tourniquets, also called “ties” are used by injectors to help identify veins and make them easier to hit. Latex tourniquets are most common and usually stronger than non-latex tourniquets however people with latex allergies will need alternatives.
Blood can get onto tourniquets and transmit HCV and other blood-borne infections. Although sometimes overlooked as a risk factor for HCV, tourniquets will often get blood on them during the injection process. If a tourniquet is left on when the needle is removed, it can cause a person to bleed excessively. Also, someone who hay have to tie off multiple times trying to find a suitable injection site may move the tourniquet over recent puncture wounds, resulting in blood getting on the tie. Blood on ties may be difficult or impossible to see or distinguish from dirt. IDUs should be encouraged to use their own ties and/or mark them to identify which is theirs. (p. 37)
Information taken direction from Getting Off Right: A Safety Manual for Injection Drug Users, by Harm Reduction Coalition 1998.
Intravenous drug injectors usually need something to “tie off” with that will restrict blood flow and cause the veins to bulge out, making them more accessible for injection.
Elastic tourniquets (like the kind that are used in hospitals) or stockings are kinder to your skin than leather belts or similar ties. They’re also better at securing rolling veins like the ones in your forearm. Neckties, lubricated condoms, and socks are other items that, because they’re softer and more pliable than leather, make better tourniquets than a belt.
Use a slip-knot when tying up so that you can remove the tourniquet quickly if necessary. Never leave the tie on for too long to prevent your circulation from getting cut off. If you lose sensation in your limb or notice it turning blue, remove the tourniquet immediately! If you’ve already tied up but need to re-cook your shot or transfer it to another syringe, take the tourniquet off and re-tie it just before you’re ready to inject. (p.19)