Cocaine Accelerates HIV Infection

Researchers have now discovered another danger of cocaine use. For the first time, scientists have found cocaine significantly accelerates HIV infection. After infecting mice with the HIV virus, UCLA researchers injected half with liquid cocaine daily, while the other half received a placebo injection. Researchers counted the HIV-infected cells after 10 days and found a 200-fold increase in AIDS viral load in mice injected with cocaine compared to those that did not receive the drug. Gayle Baldwin, MD., from the UCLA AIDS Institute, says, ‘In only two weeks, the drug radically stimulated the production and spread of HIV.” In addition, mice with cocaine in their system had more than double the number of HIV-infected cells than cocaine-free mice.

Another significant finding shows a nine-fold decrease in immune cells in the cocaine-exposed mice. Dr. Baldwin says the drug increased HIV’s efficiency so much it nearly destroyed the immune cells HIV targets to destroy the immune system. She says, “Not only did the drug double the number of HIV-infected cells, it produced a nine-fold plunge in the number of T-cells that fight off the virus.” Researchers believe the animal study could lead to additional studies to examine the effects of diet, alcohol and other drugs on the spread of HIV infection.

Source: Author Dr. G. Baldwin. Published in Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2002

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