The increase in the number of drug addicts led to a sharp increase in the percentage of deadly diseases, the leading position among which is AIDS - the terminal stage of HIV infection. Drugs and AIDS are closely linked. The problem of AIDS appeared at a time when drug addiction turned into a global disaster.
Addiction and HIV infection
People taking drugs have many health problems. Long-term use of drugs leads to irreversible changes in the body, inhibiting the functioning of the immune system.
Among drug addicts, the highest percentage of HIV infections was recorded. This is due to the fact that drug addicts do not monitor the sterility and cleanliness of injection tools (we are talking about people with severe forms of drug addiction - heroin and salt). More than 50% of injecting drug users are infected with HIV.
In most cases, drug use leads to erratic sexual contacts, which is also associated with the risk of infection with the immunodeficiency virus.
It's important to know! In many countries around the world, public awareness campaigns are held about the dangers of HIV infection. Promotions are both informative and preventative in nature.
The risk group for AIDS, along with drug addicts, also includes addicts and people who use the services of sex workers.
Groups of people exposed to drugs
In a world where the boundaries of permissiveness are shifting further and further, drug addiction and AIDS are becoming the scourge of mankind. According to numerous studies, the amount of drugs increases exponentially.
Persons who have shifted concepts of moral values and priorities lend themselves to corrupting influence. These groups include adolescents. The unformed psyche, dependence on other people's opinions, the desire to look cooler against the background of other peers push teenagers into desperate experiments, including drug use. But, as is already known, drug addiction develops much faster in a teenager than in an adult. Therefore, drug addicts are, most often, young people of reproductive age.
Another psychoactive category that is addictive is the category of people addicted to alcohol. When conducting surveys, it was found that almost all alcohol-dependent people started with small portions of alcohol in order to relax. Later, the portions increased and the degree of relaxation decreased. This pushed people to look for a source that could prolong relaxation. So in their life first appeared soft drugs, and then heavy ones.
All drug users vulnerable to HIV
When taking intravenous drugs, the drug is mixed with venous blood. Knowing that the transmission of the virus occurs through the blood, it is not difficult to identify a causal relationship between drugs and HIV.
Ideally, the injection procedure should take place in sterile hospital or outpatient settings, taking into account the use of disposable syringes and needles. The drugs are opened and mixed by the medical professional in the correct proportion and subject to aseptic rules.
In drug-dependent people, drug administration is carried out under non-sterile conditions. Most often, narcotic mixtures include ingredients of unknown origin. Injecting drug use can be done with the help of one syringe and one needle by several people at once. At the same time, the risk of infection with the immunodeficiency virus increases manifold. Just one virus carrier is enough to infect an entire company of drug addicts.
Note! Addicts are considered the largest risk group for HIV infection and for the transition of this disease to the deadly stage of AIDS.
The mechanism of HIV infection in drug addicts
The main ways of infection with the immunodeficiency virus:
- Through infected blood (in the case of a single syringe being used by a group of people, this is the most common cause of infection).
- Through injection tools - syringes, needles (sometimes the drug is sold already in syringes, into which specially contaminated blood is mixed).
- In the presence of promiscuous sexual life (a high risk arises with unprotected homosexual or heterosexual intimate act),
In these ways, the immunodeficiency virus is transmitted not only among drug addicts, but also in a group of socially disadvantaged people.
Addiction and AIDS are becoming global issues. Therefore, in many countries, actions are carried out aimed at the prevention of drug addiction and HIV among various social sectors of the population. As part of the action, specialists and volunteers conduct special informative conversations in educational institutions.
For preventive purposes, medical institutions distribute barrier contraceptives for disadvantaged groups.
Drug-addicted people are informed about the dangers of drugs and the dangers of HIV infection, and help them decide to start treatment for drug addiction. HIV-infected drug users are informed of the possibility of antiretroviral therapy and a return to a healthy lifestyle. Psychologists and rehabilitologists work with this category of the population.
The dissemination of information about HIV infection, AIDS and drug addiction, as well as their prevention is gaining momentum. The urge of young people to follow a healthy lifestyle gives hope that people will value their health and life. And the latest developments of scientists will make it possible to completely cure the body of HIV and AIDS.
How can I get HIV by using intravenous drugs?
During the injection (injection), part of the blood enters the needle and syringe. The needle and syringe after injection used by the HIV-infected person may still contain blood with the virus. If you then use this needle or syringe without sterilization, you can inject the infected blood directly into your bloodstream and become infected with HIV.
Is any kind of injection dangerous?
Some people who inject drugs (injecting drugs) mistakenly believe that they are not at risk of getting HIV if they avoid injecting them into a vein, but you can also get HIV from injecting them under your skin or muscle.
Reusing a needle or syringe to inject drugs (for example, which are usually injected into a vein) under your skin, steroids, hormones, or silicone can put you at risk for HIV and other blood-borne infections, such as hepatitis C.
There are many ways to get HIV from injecting drugs:
- preparation / preparation for drug use with syringes containing infected blood,
- reuse of blood contaminated water for washing needles and syringes,
- reuse of caps (e.g. bottle), a spoon or other containers for dissolving drugs in water and for heating drug solutions,
- reuse of filters - usually small pieces of cotton wool or cigarette filters that are used to filter particles that can clog the needle,
- unsafe destruction of used needles or syringes when contaminated blood accidentally enters the body of another person, for example, a medical worker in a hospital does some kind of manipulation (for example, puts caps on needles, transfers needles from one container to another) with used needles that have not yet completely passed disinfection.
How do I reduce the risk of getting HIV if I use drugs?
If you still cannot give up drugs and are forced to use them, then do not use used needles, syringes, spoons, filters, as this puts you at risk of contracting HIV and other viruses in the blood, such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B.
In many countries, used needles can be exchanged for clean needles at pharmacies and exchange points. If you are taking heroin, then consider participating in a methadone or buprenorphine program. These substances are swallowed as a liquid, reducing the risk of HIV infection, and also help you cope with drug addiction. Your doctor or healthcare provider can advise you where you can go to exchange needles or join a methadone / buprenorphine program.
Another option may be prior, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This is when you are taking treatment from HIV infection to possible exposure to HIV so that you do not get HIV. It is now recommended for people who inject drugs, although it is available in only a few countries.
There are other measures you can take to reduce your risk of HIV from injecting drugs:
- use sterile (eg, boiled) water to prepare the “preparation”,
- use a new or disinfected container for dissolving, heating and a new filter (for example, cotton wool) every time you prepare a “preparation”,
- before injection, clean the area of your body for injection with a new alcohol swab,
- Dispose of needles and syringes safely after one use so that no one can use them again.
If you intend to get a tattoo or piercing, check that a clean, sterilized needle is used in the machine.
What should I do if I have an unsafe injection?
If you think you have shared the needle with someone who has HIV (or another blood-borne virus), then you need to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C.
If you have sex, then do it only in a condom until you get the test results. Because if you become infected, then you can pass the virus to your partner.
You can also get postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), for example, from an AIDS infectious diseases specialist. PEP can stop the spread of HIV infection in your body within 72 hours after the injection. However, it is not available everywhere.
But most importantly, try your best to get rid of drug addiction, because sooner or later you will get AIDS.