"Flashblood is a new phenomenon that is, in a sense, a dangerous exaggeration of needle-sharing that magnifies HIV transmission risk," said Sheryl McCurdy of the University of Texas School of Public Health. "If the injector is infected with HIV or Hepatitis C, the amount of virus directly transmitted into the bloodstream by the second injector could be quite large."
The Dar es Salaam study found that this practice began amongst female sex workers attempting to help their fellow colleagues or friends who were desperate or unable to obtain funding for drugs. Male injectors interviewed in Dar es Salaam were unaware of the practice their female counterparts were engaging in. Another contributing factor in the rise of flashblood is the increasing price and declining quality of heroin in the area. Over the past 10 years drug prices have doubled, and users in the region have reported now needing almost 4 times the amount of heroin they once required to achieve a high.
With drug treatment centres, peer outreach programs and harm reduction initiatives so few and far between in Kenya and Tanzania, properly addressing the problem and providing education on the risks and realities of practicing flashblood becomes quite difficult.