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Drug and alcohol abuse and HIV

Aug 3, 2012

I belong to a support group for HIV men and most are abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Doesn't this affect our HIV numbers? There are no social functions in my city for people with HIV people that do not include drugs and/or alcohol. It is my belief that people get a false sense of security with the new HIV drugs. They are under the impression that with these HIV drugs they can live what they think are normal lives including clubs and parties. Some are using daily. I was diagnosed 26 years ago and have used drugs and alcohol over the years. Every time I do, my numbers get bad. We need to teach people to take care of our bodies.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. We are fortunate to have so many powerful meds, but they don't relinquish anyone from acting responsibly. Drugs, including those for both HIV and recreational purposes (including alcohol), are processed in the liver and kidneys and strain our bodies. The more drugs, the more possibility for complications. When one also considers the number of possible drug interactions and the high potential for missing doses of HIV medications, use of drugs becomes that much more serious.

It is generally recognized that someone on HIV medications can safely take one drink of alcohol per day. People with HIV, however, are at higher risk for addictive disorders and caution should be used.

It is unfortunate that many places do lack opportunities for social interaction without the use of drugs and alcohol because they can, indeed, present problems for people on HIV medications. My suggestion? Start your own group. Where I live people faced this same situation and began forming their own social networks based on common recreational interests or affiliations.

Thanks for writing and good luck.


Travelling with HIV meds

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