According to Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, "We have all sorts of levels of evidence ... and it's all pointing in the same direction: The crystal meth epidemic is playing an important role in increasing sexual risk behaviors, and that is leading to new HIV and STD infections."
According to New York's Pride Institute, "We're seeing a strong correlation between anal sex and HIV infection ... People who have weathered years of staying safe are getting into methamphetamine and then testing positive." A 2002 study at a San Francisco HIV clinic found that up to 30% of those with new HIV infections had used the drug in the previous six months. New York's Callen-Lorde Community Health Centre claims two-thirds of clients testing HIV-positive since June 2003 say methamphetamine was a component in their becoming positive.
In a 2001 study of HIV-positive men who use methamphetamine, 84% reported engaging in risky sexual behaviour; most tended not to disclose their HIV status to casual partners, and reported that, unless told otherwise, they assumed their sex partner(s) to be HIV-positive. Many participants reported a major increase in methamphetamine use after being diagnosed HIV-positive. Others reported using methamphetamine to deal with sources of emotional pain, such as social rejection and negative self-perceptions about being HIV-positive or memories of childhood abuse.
HIV-positive men who have unprotected sex with other HIV-positive men risk re-infection ("super-infection") or contracting more virulent and/or drug-resistant strains of the virus. According to some sources, some men who were assumed to be immune to HIV have seroconverted since starting to use methamphetamine. There are concerns that "aggressive" and difficult to treat forms of HIV may spread among methamphetamine users. Some HIV-positive individuals are using methamphetamine to deal with chronic fatigue, to alleviate the side effects of their prescription medication, alleviate depression, and escape negative self-perceptions.
Some drugs used in the treatment of HIV inhibit the body's ability to break down methamphetamine. Some users (especially heavy or longterm users) who are HIV-positive experience an increase in viral load (the amount of HIV in the body). Methamphetamine also contributes to the depletion of T-cell counts, prevents users from adhering to their drug regimens, contributes to the development of basal ganglia dysfunction (a type of dementia), and stimulates HIV replication in brain cells as much as fifteen-fold, according to an Ohio State University study. In addition, methamphetamine use is immuno-suppressive due to the missed meals, vitamin depletion, weight loss and disrupted sleep that accompany binges.
Meth Effects on HIV
- HIV weakens the immune system over a period of time and a damaged immune system makes it difficult to fight off diseases.
- The party lifestyle (staying awake for days at a time, not drinking enough water or not eating enough food or the right foods) also destroys the immune system.
- Crystal meth actually eats through the immune system. Crystal use itself causes a drop in T cells and natural killer (NK) cells.
- The drug, the lifestyle and HIV take a major toll on those who are immunocompromised.
HIV Medication and Crystal Meth
- There is not much known about the interaction between HIV medication and Crystal Meth.
- Pharmaceutical companies are not doing this research.
- Because of the US War on Drugs its unlikely that the Government is going to research this.
- Even if there was research it would be hard to get scientific results since the purity of party drugs varies significantly.
- Those on HIV medications who use crystal meth may have poor adherence or take drug holidays.
- Unsupervised drug holidays, especially when partying, are tricky because they can lead to a drop in T-cell counts and a rise in Viral loads.
- Drug holidays are also dangerous because it gives the virus a chance to mutate and become immune to the medication you are taking.
HIV medications like Ritonavir can multiply the effects of drugs.
In 1997 a man with AIDS who had been taking Ritonavir died suddenly after taking only two hits of ecstasy.
But his blood level measured 4.6 mg of MDMA which is equal to 22 hits of x.
HIV Meds and Harm Reduction
- Talk to your doctor about what party drugs you use - even about Viagra and poppers.
- Speak openly and honestly to your doctor, it’Äôs the only way you will get sound medical advice.
- They will probably advise you stop using the party drugs. You may not be ready to stop, but don' t let the conversation end there.
- Don’Äôt yes the doctor to get out of the office, don’Äôt tell him something you have no intention of doing. Ask your doctor for advice on how you can reduce the potential for harmful interactions. Be open to suggestions.