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Cocaine and HIV

Jan 6, 2011

I have a friend who is Hiv Positive and is a cocaine addict (he sniffs). His T-cell count is down to 250 and he has been taking medication for a month and a half. Is it true that cocaine can bring your T-cell count down even further, even while taking medication? And how long does it take for your T-cells to go down substantially?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Nearly every recreational drug has been documented to impact CD4 cells. This is particularly true for amphetamines, including cocaine. Cocaine users (no matter how they ingest the drug) more than double their chances of a decline in their T-cells. How fast this damage occurs will vary from person to person based on a variety of other medical issues. Cocaine damages one's ability to fight the virus for several reasons: it reduces adherence to antiviral medications and it seems to negatively impact the immune system in ways that we don't yet totally understand.


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