To Party or Not to Party
I want to take time this month to discuss "partying," specifically with drugs. There has been much talk of late about the use of drugs at circuit parties and the bars, especially the drug GHB.
At Operation: Survive! a year or so ago, a participant asked Dr. Edith Biggers, "Is Special K bad for you if you are HIV positive?" Her response was a clever one, "It's not good for you if you are not HIV positive!" Let's face it, those of us on antiretrovirals and protease inhibitors are on a toxic mix anyway. Why add even more toxic substances to this?
AIDS Survival Project in no way condones or promotes in any manner the use of any illicit drug, but does recognize that there are those people with HIV who decide to use them. I am not here to judge anyone's informed decision to use or not to use. We are big girls and boys and we can make our own choices. I do, though, want these choices to be informed ones and I want those who do choose to use drugs to know how to reduce the harm these drugs will cause.
Unfortunately, there is little research about the interactions of recreational drugs with protease inhibitors or other antiviral drugs. Why? Simply put, the pharmaceutical companies are not likely to do such research for three reasons. First, they would have to get FDA approval. I doubt any administration would allow such a clinical trial to take place for fear of being perceives as "soft on drugs." The second reason is the legal liability to which the pharmaecutical companies would expose themselves. Finally, this is impractical because there is no way of finding a consistent supply of "pure" street drugs. These drugs vary in ingredients depending on who cut them and with what they were cut. Some street drugs contain little or none of the ingredients for which they are advertised. In other words, one may be snorting Bon Ami or Old Dutch Cleanser.
So we have a problem here. There is little information regarding risk/danger out there other than anecdotal. You may remember back in 1997, there was a young man with AIDS from Europe who died after mixing ritonavir with ecstasy (a/k/a "X, MDMA, Vitamin E, XTC, Adam or Essence"). He reportedly took "no more than 2 tablets." The blood levels at his death measured 4.6 mg of MDMA. That is the equivalent of 22 tablets of ecstasy. Scary isn't it?
Additionally, what happens when one uses a mind-altering drug? Your mind is altered and so are your inhibitions. In fact, they seem to go away. What does this spell? R-I-S-K. It is proven that the use of alcohol and/or drugs prior to having sex increases the likelihood of participating in unsafe behaviors. In other words, you may not be able to make an informed decision. Thus, if information = power, then this choice = increased risk.
Below is a partial list of recreational drugs and how they might interact with all those "other pills" we take. This list is drawn from Gabi Horn's article in the June '98 issue of POZ and the GMHC pamphet, "Drugs in Dreamland."
Drug Interaction and Effects: How to Reduce the Harm
This article was provided by AIDS Survival Project. It is a part of the publication Survival News.