5.8. HIV infection among drug users
Drug usage absolutely changes the psyche of a drug user, who becomes prone to depression, various disorders and improper behavior and attitude. After long-term drug abuse, absolutely healthy people have irreversible changes in the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, cerebral blood circulation, etc. Such changes are more serious in people living with HIV.
Drug users are frequently infected with HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases. The primary route of infectious disease transmission is the repeated use of needles, syringes and other injection paraphernalia. Another route of infection transmission in this environment is risky sexual behavior, unprotected sex, and frequent change of partners, primarily from one’s circle of friends.
The immune system of a person living with HIV, who uses drugs, is usually at breaking point and often cannot cope with fulfilling its functions. This is due to the fact that the immune system has been undermined both by HIV infection and drug usage. On top of that, the antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may cause undesired reactions.
In this situation, it is very important to motivate a person to stop using drugs and start rehabilitation. It is important to remember that drug addiction is not a verdict. Today, there are specialized centers and support groups that are equipped to provide support to a person in any difficult situation on his way to abandoning drug addiction and starting rehabilitation.
If drug use continues, only new, not previously used needles, syringes and other devices or specially sterilized devices should be used in order to reduce the risk of HIV infection.