New Study: IDU Heroin Addicts Just as Likely to Benefit from HIV Therapy as Non Drug Addicts

February 24, 2010

Sharing needles is one of the quickest ways to transmit contagious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, making intravenous drug use (IDU) of drugs like heroin one of the most dangerous types of drug addiction. Up until now, it has been believed that heroin addicts who use needles would not benefit from HIV therapy. More specifically, it was generally believed that IDU addicts had a lower chance of successful HIV therapy and treatment than non drug users. “Similar Immunologic Responses to Modern HAART Among IDU and Non-IDU in a Populational Setting” [Abstract 516] was recently published that turned that notion upside down.


What the Study Says About HIV Positive Heroin Addicts and Treatment

Viviane Lima, PhD, at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, British Columbia, was one of the medical professionals involved in the study that looked at the results of 402 IDU patients with HIV and 1231 non-IDU patients with HIV. After six months of treatment, about 74.6 percent of the IDU patients with HIV achieved undetectable viral loads and 89.8 percent of non-IDU patients achieved the same.

Says Lima: “Our study demonstrates that those patients having a history of injecting drug use are as likely as those without such a history to benefit from antiretroviral therapy.”

The differences between the patients extended beyond whether or not they had a history of illegal drug use. For example, the IDU patients were more likely to be younger and more likely to be women.

Lima says: “Because of the volatility in the life of HIV-positive individuals with illicit drug addiction, some healthcare providers believe that these individuals will not derive the full benefits of highly active antiretroviral therapy.”

The results of this study, according to Lima, prove those theories wrong.

Drug Addiction Treatment for Those Who are HIV Positive

Just like HIV therapy is successful for heroin addicts, heroin addiction treatment is successful for HIV positive patients, as well. Intravenous drug use and HIV decrease the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off illness and other diseases. When other medical issues develop, complications can occur especially when drug addiction and HIV are present. Too often, death is hastened when both drug addiction and HIV are allowed to continued unchecked by therapy and treatment.

Though both HIV and heroin addiction are chronic diseases and no cure is in place for either issue, both are treatable with high rates of success for those who stick to their treatment. For those who are addicted to heroin, heroin addiction treatment starts with a medical heroin detox that allows you to stop taking the drug right away. Some may opt for slow heroin detox that utilizes methadone or Suboxone in order to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms and this is a viable option for those who are HIV positive. When you are physically stable and no longer taking heroin, you can turn your attention to the addiction counseling and therapy that will provide you with what you need to remain heroin-free after you return home.

Heroin Addiction Treatment at Michael’s House

If you would like to learn more about our heroin rehab here at Michael’s House, contact us today at 1-877-345-8494 for more information.

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