Girl, 6, tested for HIV after picking up dirty drugs needle she thought was CALPOL

September 10, 2013 | by | 7 Comments
Courtney Sharpin  picked up a used needle dumped by drug addicts close to her home

Courtney Sharpin picked up a used needle dumped by drug addicts close to her home

A six-year-old girl has been tested for a series of deadly illnesses after picking up a dirty drugs needle she mistook for CALPOL.

Courtney Sharpin was playing with her four-year-old sister Saffron when she found the used spike and a blackened spoon by recycling bins near her home.

She thought it looked like the easy dosage syringe her mother uses to give her Calpol  and picked it up.

Fortunately Courtney, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, did not prick herself but she touched the needle with two fingers.

She is now anxiously awaiting the results of HIV and hepatitis tests carried out by concerned medics.

Her worried mother Gemma Hicks, 31, said: “It is disgusting that someone is shooting up in the area.

“Courtney is six years old, she should not be having to go through this.

“Maybe she should not have picked it up but she thought it was one of those easy dosage syringes for Calpol.

“These people should do it in their own homes.”

Courntey has undergone three blood tests and a hepatitis B jab at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

She is now waiting for her results and to find out if she will be referred to a specialist clinic to be tested for hepatitis C.

The Freebridge Community Housing Association which runs the estate where Courtney lives said: “We have carried out an accident investigation into how this has happened to reduce the chances of a similar incident occurring in the future.”

Category: News

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe that you can get H.I.V.from picking up dirty needles as the various is dead

  2. NAT (National AIDS Trust) says:

    I think it is important to reassure your readers that there has never been a recorded case anywhere in the world of someone being infected with HIV through a needle injury in a public place. HIV is an incredibly fragile virus and lasts only moments outside of the body. The article also describes it as a ‘deadly illnesses’. However people who are diagnosed and treated with HIV in time do not die of HIV-related causes. In fact there is a story out today which highlights that advances in treatment mean people with HIV can have near-normal life-expectancy. It is important to be clear about the facts on HIV to reduce worry and anxiety – but also stigma against people living with the virus. If any readers would like to know more please visit our information website

  3. Maurice Greenham says:

    I would like to correct the false assumption posted by ‘Anonymous’. You can’t catch HIV from picking up a used needle. There is no record of this happening anywhere in the world. HIV is a very fragile virus and doesn’t normally survive long outside the human body.

    In response to the article, HIV tests can be done easily these days and you can have results back in as short a time as 20 minutes. I thought the days of hysterical reporting were long gone. Seems I was wrong.

    However getting pricked by a discarded needle should be taken seriously…whilst the HIV virus degrades quickly in the open air, bacteria are a different matter.

    Maurice Greenham (HIV+ 29 years….and living a very full, happy and rewarding life)

  4. Peter says:

    Would the editor please note that the HIV virus dies 30 seconds to 3 minutes once outside of the body, as Courtney did not use the needle right after the other person. Hence the focus of the title should not be placed on HIV, as these type of titles may give HIV patients a bad name, bring fear among people towards HIV patients or cause more discrimination among them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You cannot be infected with HIV by touching dirty needles, and also the virus is very weak and does not live very long outside the body. There is also no need for agonizing long waits for test results, you can have a test and get results within 20 minutes now.
    The reporter should refrain from using sensationalist headlines to get their story read.

  6. Veritee says:

    I think the headline is misleading and misinformed and was used in a way that perpetuates fear and stigma towards those who live with HIV.

    Having had children myself of course it is upsetting that this child picked this up and that it was left about in an estate where anyone could have picked it up. And picking up a dirty needle or anything medical can be a risk for bacteria but it will not infect anyone with HIV. I agree Hep C and B is more possible but if she only held it in two fingers not very likely.

    As has been said that even if she was pricked by the needle and even if it had been used by someone with HIV it would still not be a risk for HIV.
    Also HIV tests can be done within 20 minutes these days, as others have said. Hepatitis C may be a risk although:
    ‘In about 1 in 5 cases the virus is cleared from the body by the immune system within 2-6 months. If this happens then you will have no long-term effects from the virus. Younger people and women are more likely to clear the virus in this way.
    In about 4 in 5 cases, the virus remains active in the liver and bloodstream long-term. This is called chronic infection with hepatitis C.’

    And it can take some months for Hepatitis C to be detected via blood tests.

    So my point is the headline was
    ‘Girl, 6, tested for HIV after picking up dirty drugs needle she thought was CALPOL’

    Therefore in my view it was wrong and misleading to use this headline as it was not a risk at all for HIV and only a very slight or negligible, for Hepatitis B or C.

  7. Jack says:

    Experts agree that hiv outside the body is fragile. And drying reduces infrctious virus particles by 90-99% if dried!
    Your concern about catching HIV from a used needle is unwarrent, there’s a risk, but the risk is believed to be around 0.4% ! The title is miss leading and can raise unessisary anxiety and stress due to the miss conception of this article ! Although Hep there is a small chance as it’s a virus which can linger outside the body for much longer!
    remember readers, the CDC essentially provide everyone with reliable answers (scientifically proven, time and time again) ‘ HIV DOES NOT MAINTAIN ITS INFECTIOUSNESS OUTSIDE THE BODY., NOR DOES IT REPRODUCE’
    There are negligible risks, but there always is in life! Evaluate the risks before making quick assumptions!
    For more information please visit CDC- aids and HIV.

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