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HIV Treatment and Street Drugs

There is not a lot of information on how street drugs and HIV treatments interact. It’s a challenge to do research, not just because the street drugs are illegal, but also because the purity of the drugs could differ from batch to batch, affecting the research.

So what do we know? Well, using street drugs can lower your immune system whether you have HIV or not, especially if you’re not eating or sleeping on a regular basis. If your immune system is fighting HIV, you may be more likely to get infections or get really sick.

If you are on treatments or considering them, you need to talk honestly with your care provider about what you are using and how often, because street drugs can change how HIV treatments work. Even methadone can affect HIV medications, so being up front about what’s going into your body will help determine what treatment’s best for you.

If you’re ready to make some changes in your use, great! Any step that improves your health is worthwhile. If you aren’t ready to stop or reduce your use:

  • try to keep a regular schedule of when you sleep and when you eat. This will help your body establish rhythms
  • make sure you drink fluids to keep your body hydrated
  • eat as well as possible
  • give yourself all the support you can to keep your immune system working well

Reducing how often or how much you use is obviously better, and if you are ready to stop using, fantastic. You can contact us to talk with a support worker about any of these options, or check out our links for other resources.

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