Cocaine Abuse Increases Risk of HIV Infection

Harm reduction advocates claim that needle exchange programs reduce HIV risk by allowing injection drug users to continue to abuse drugs with clean needles, rather than sharing needles that may be infected with HIV. A new study finds that drug abuse may actually increase HIV infection risk by compromising the immune system, and thereby making it easier for HIV and other infectious disease to take hold. This new data potentially explains why drug abusers have higher rates of infection than other at risk groups and why areas with long-standing and high volume needle exchanges– such as Vancouver, British Columbia and Baltimore, Maryland– have failed to curtail the spread of HIV and hepatitis among the injection drug using population. Prevention and treatment for drug abuse, therefore, remain the only proven and scientifically sound prevention strategies against HIV and the other health risks associated with drug abuse. Needle exchange merely allows addicts to continue the very behavior that comprises their immune system and makes them more susceptible to HIV infection.


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