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Meth and HIV

Sep 8, 2017

Does smoking meth and having HIV kill you faster.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. That is a very short question that requires a longer answer.

In short, yes, smoking meth (or ingesting it any other way) increases your risk of life-threatening complications for anyone whether through physical complications like stroke, heart attack or pulmonary hypertension to psychological concerns like paranoia and psychosis. For someone with HIV, meth additionally complicates things in a number of ways.

The biggest complication is adherence to your HIV medications. Many people who use meth use it for many hours and even days at a time. Meth is so powerful that it "hijacks" one's brain - it becomes the priority and taking your meds (sometimes even eating or drinking water) becomes insignificant. Of course it's important to take your HIV medications as prescribed. Not doing so because of meth use (or any other reason) can lead to drug resistance.

Meth also has some potential drug interactions with HIV meds, especially protease inhibitors, and there is some research that indicates that meth may impact the immune system and CD4 cells in ways that are harmful and which we don't totally understand.

The bottom line: please don't use meth. If you need help stopping check out Narcotics Anonymous or Crystal Meth Anonymous. There is help out there.

Best wishes to you,


Depressed, ovewhelmed. and unsure of the cause
Newly diagnosed and need information about HIV

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