Meth Use Might Hurt Immune System
BY HIV Plus Editors
April 13 2005 12:00 AM ET
Scientists are beginning to explore whether crystal methamphetamine use could boost HIV infection risk and speed up HIV disease progression by weakening the body's immune system, The New York Times reports.
A study of more than 4,000 sexually active gay men with more than one partner showed HIV infection risk doubled with meth use. A rapidly progressing HIV infection reported in a New York City man also could be linked to his meth use and its effect on his immune system, researchers have said. Previous studies also have shown HIV-positive crystal meth users have higher viral loads than nonusers.
It is possible that meth could speed up viral replication, scientists theorize. Some AIDS experts also say meth use can suppress the ability of killer T cells to fight off pathogens.
'I do think we need to look more closely at whether meth is somehow suppressing immunity and increasing viral loads,' Grant Colfax of San Francisco's public-health department told the Times.