We know that drug abuse is a serious problem and HIV is a serious illness.
What happens when they are connected?
Drugs are taken in many different ways such as orally, snorting, smoking, using suppositories, and injecting. The injection of drugs creates a higher risk of spreading HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) because when sharing needles and syringes users often don’t realize how dirty they can be.
About 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. and unfortunately about 240,000 don’t know they are infected according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behaviors associated with drug abuse are among the most common risk factors involved in the spread of HIV in the United States.
A person who is under the influence of drugs may be impulsive and engage in unprotected sex with a person who is infected with HIV, thus increasing their chance to be infected or infect someone else. An injection drug user may also acquire HIV through repeated usage of needles with someone who has HIV.
Drug abuse can significantly increase the likelihood of contracting HIV and worse yet, drug abuse and addiction can contribute to the progression of HIV as a disease.
According to studies, HIV causes greater injury to cells in the brain and cognitive impairment among methamphetamine abusers than among HIV patients who do not abuse drugs. Studies have also shown that high rates of drug abuse correspond with higher rates of people with HIV.
When a person is both addicted to drugs and has been diagnosed with HIV, the medications required to treat the disease can interact dangerously with the drugs the person may be taking.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a campaign called, “Learn the Link” which creates awareness in today’s generation about the real dangers of drug use and HIV transmission. The campaign encourages youth to share this information to their peers to stop the spread of the disease. For more information you can visit the website at www.hiv.drugabuse.gov.