25 Things You Need to Do if You Have HIV
13. Use of illegal drugs or "party drugs," or excessive use of alcohol, can interfere with your HIV care and HIV pill taking and can raise the risk you will infect someone else with your HIV. You should address substance use or abuse with your HIV provider.
Many studies show that taking illegal drugs, including "party drugs" or "recreational drugs," and drinking too much alcohol raise the risk of transmitting HIV to another person or getting infected with another sexually transmitted disease.1 Taking drugs and drinking too much alcohol also raise the risk that you will forget to take your HIV medications.2 Recreational drugs can also interact dangerously with HIV medications.
People who inject drugs should get help to stop. Your HIV provider can direct you to programs that will address addiction to injected drugs, pills, or alcohol. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (http://drugpubs.drugabuse.gov/) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (www.niaaa.nih.gov/Publications/PamphletsBrochuresPosters/English/Pages/default.aspx) offer many easy-to-understand booklets on drug and alcohol use and abuse.
14. Get tested for viruses that cause hepatitis. Ask your HIV provider whether you need a vaccine for hepatitis A or hepatitis B. Start treatment for hepatitis B or C if necessary.
Hepatitis virus infection is common in people with HIV because hepatitis viruses and HIV are transmitted in the same ways. Infection with a hepatitis virus has a great impact on HIV treatment and overall care.1,2
Your HIV provider will probably test you for hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A, B, and C (HAV, HBV, and HCV). If you don't already have HAV or HBV, they can often be prevented by vaccines.2 Even if you do not feel symptoms of hepatitis, these viruses are damaging your liver. Alcohol and recreational drugs can increase liver injury caused by hepatitis viruses.2
Treatment options for HBV and HCV have improved greatly in the past several years. Treating hepatitis viruses in people with HIV requires careful planning and close monitoring. Do not stop treatment for HBV or HCV on your own.
Pregnant women can pass a hepatitis virus to the fetus.2
Tell your current and former sex partners and needle-sharing partners if you have hepatitis virus infection and suggest that your partners get tested for hepatitis viruses.2
As with any medicine, it's important to take your HIV medications regularly, as your HIV provider instructs. Taking your antiretrovirals regularly is critical to the success of your treatment.1,2 Missing too many doses can make HIV resistant to your antiretrovirals. If your antiretrovirals are causing side effects, don't stop taking them or skip doses. Tell your provider about the side effects immediately.
Don't panic if you miss a dose or two. You and your provider can plan ahead for what to do if you miss a dose. If you don't have a plan and you realize you missed a dose, call your provider to discuss what to do.
If you often have trouble remembering to take your HIV medications, your provider can help you plan reminders that will improve your pill taking.
This article was provided by The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy. Visit CFA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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