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Can Ecstasy and GHB accelerate HIV?
May 18, 2013

Hello,

I discovered that I have HIV during a routine exam half year ago. I'm really fine and my doctor said that I don't need to take any kind of ARVs now. My first exam was CD4: 787 and Viral Load: 31.000. My second exam is CD4: 886 and Viral Load: 20.000.

Actually I'm writing to know about ecstasy and GHB/GBL use. As I told you, I'm still not taken any kind of arvs, but sometimes, in some parties, I used to take one ecstasy pill or a little dose of GHB/GLB. Well, at that time I didn't know I was positive. Now I'm a little bit worried about that. My doctor said that there is no problem if I take it moderately, if I'm not a heavy user and if I sleep and eat well. I would like to know your opinion about this, considering that I used to take ecstasy or G once or twice a month, sometimes even less than this. I read that ecstasy can reduce temporarily the CD4 count, right? But for how long? How many days will take to get CD4 count back to normal after take ecstasy? And what about the GHB/GBL? They also reduce the CD4 count? For how long?

What about the viral load? Ecstasy and GHB/GBL can also increase the viral load?

All these questions are because I'm worried about the possibility of any acceleration of HIV. Is that possible?

Thanks a lot for your answer!

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. I'm glad you are inquiring about these matters, but I cannot give you a definitive answer. It is true that some studies have shown that ecstasy has a negative effect on the body's immune system. Specifics as to how much and how long are dependent on many variables, including overall health, immune system status, what's actually in the ecstasy, etc. There can be many contaminants which can be dangerous. Ecstasy can interact with antiretrovirals (although this is not an issue for you now). Ecstasy use can also, as your doctor stated, lead to unhealthy patterns such as missing sleep, not eating well, etc, all of which will indirectly affect your health. GHB can also negatively impact a healthy lifestyle and is particularly dangerous because liquid concentrations can vary.

There are some harm reduction principles you can apply. Test your ecstasy to know what you are taking. Be realistic in how much and how often you are taking it. And, with regard to GHB, NEVER take it in conjunction with alcohol. The best recommendation is to not use either drug at all.

Be safe,

David



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