Exploring the Link Between HIV and Drug Misuse

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The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that of every 100,000 people in Washington state, seven will contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicated that drug misuse and HIV are often linked together.

HIV in Washington state is largely attributed to the use of dirty needles. If you or any of your loved ones grapple with addiction, it is important for you to understand the risks of drug misuse and HIV. Drug misuse can inhibit treatment and increase the progression of HIV to AIDS.

The Dangers of HIV/AIDS

HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, is a deadly disease that has taken the lives of millions. HIV is spread through blood and bodily fluids. The disease is believed to have spread from chimpanzees when a similar virus jumped species with devastating results in the early 1980s.

The government website on HIV shows just how widespread and potentially deadly the disease still is.

  • 36.7 million people live with HIV/AIDS around the world
  • Since the disease was first diagnosed, more than 35 million people have died from AIDS-related complications

The virus is deadly because it kills the body’s ability to fight infection. This makes the infected person susceptible to a variety of diseases that can lead to death. Without a healthy immune system, the AIDS virus can run rampant, ultimately wearing out the mind and body of the person infected. In a healthy person, many of the diseases that kill people with AIDS would not even be life-threatening.

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How Are Drug Misuse and HIV Linked?

Drug use that involves needles for injection increase the risk of spreading viral infections such as hepatitis or HIV. Drug misuse and HIV occur when people inject drugs and share needles. For example, HIV and heroin use are commonly associated cause and effect events.

HIV can also be spread when people who misuse these drugs engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sexual contact with someone with the disease. When people consume drugs, their judgment is often impaired. This can lead to risky practices that expose them to increased dangers.

While HIV can infect anyone, the risk of contracting HIV or another viral illness such as hepatitis is very high for those who misuse drugs.

In addition to increasing the risk of illness and death, drug misuse puts family and loved ones at risk for additional pain and suffering. For example, HIV can pass from an infected woman to her infant during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. Drug misuse and its tendency to elevate risk-taking behaviors is a factor in the spread of HIV.

If you or any of your loved ones have a substance use disorder, you can lessen your chance of contracting HIV/AIDS by seeking treatment. Washington state addiction treatment resources can help.  Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to learn about your treatment options.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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