ISSUE NO. 10
Crystal Meth and HIV
What You Need to Know About How They Interact
HIV MEDICATION & METH METH EFFECTS ON HIV
Not much is known about the interaction between We know HIV weakens the immune system over a period of time and a
crystal meth and HIV medications. This is due to a damaged immune system makes it difficult to fight off diseases. No new
few reasons: news there!
1. Pharmaceutical companies are not doing We also know the party lifestyle (staying awake for days at a time, not
this research. drinking enough water or not eating enough food or the right foods) also
destroys the immune system.
2. Because of the US War on Drugs, it’s unlikely
What you might not know is that meth “eats” through the immune system.
the Government is going to fund this research.
Crystal use itself causes a drop in T-cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells.
3. Even if there was funding and someone was The drug, the lifestyle on the drug and HIV take a major toll on those who
willing to do the research, it would be hard are immune compromised.
to get scientific results since the purity of party
drugs varies significantly.
What we do know is that certain HIV medications
are designed to boost the effects of other HIV Those on HIV medications who use crystal meth may have poor adherence
medications, therefore, boosting the effects of or take drug holidays.
any other drugs that may be in your system.
Unsupervised drug holidays, especially when partying, are tricky because
For example: they can lead to a drop in T-cell counts and a rise in viral loads.
HIV medications like Ritonavir can multiply the Drug holidays are also dangerous because it gives the virus a chance to
effects of illicit or perscription drugs. mutate and become immune to the medication the user is taking.
In 1997 a man with AIDS who had been taking Source: www.tweaker.org
Ritonavir died suddenly after taking only two hits
of ecstasy (X). But his blood level measured 4.6 neXT WeeK’S ToPic:
mg of MDMA which is equal to 22 hits of X. THE QUESTION & ANSWER ISSUE
STATiSTicS from The L.A. GAy & LeSbiAn cenTer
• In 2006, 43% of all new HIV infections reported at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center were individuals
who had used meth. That’s almost half!
• 5,319 gay men tested for HIV or other STDs at the Center in 2005, and 18% reported that they
had used crystal meth at least once in their lifetime, and 9% had used the drug in the previous 12
months. In 2006, the percentage of gay men who reported using crystal meth at least once in their
lifetime had increased to 25%, and the percentage of those who had used it in the last year had
increased to 13% (of the 6,360 people tested.)
• The 2006 data indicate that gay men who had used meth within the previous 12 months were
five times more likely to test positive for HIV than those who did not use meth.
The Meth Memo is a series of memos designed to educate individuals about Crystal Meth. Developed by Mike Rizzo.
Funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS Programs and Policy.