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This Is How Meth Magnifies HIV Progression


Gay men, often who are HIV-positive, are attracted to methamphetamine for its supposed power to enhance sexual pleasure — but at great cost.

Using methamphetamine — a practice that’s disappointingly popular in gay culture — directly intensifies the progression of HIV, according to a new study. Methamphetamine and other stimulants have the power to turn a normally healthy individual living with HIV into a hot mess ruined by accelerated disease, and often with other negative horrific effects.

The new study, “Recent stimulant use and leukocyte gene expression in methamphetamine users with treated HIV infection,” was published in a recent issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

And you guessed it — researchers found a profound negative impact on disease progression in men who used methamphetamines.

“It is often the case that these patients experience difficulties when managing their HIV,” study co-author Adam Carrico, PhD toldMD Magazine. “But, I began to wonder if there are direct effects of methamphetamine use on the immune system even when we can get patients to be virally suppressed.”

Samples were taken from 55 HIV-positive men who were also using methamphetamine. Investigators found a differential expression of 32 genes and perturbation (deviation) of 168 pathways in patients who had recently used methamphetamine. Gene expressions is defined as the process by which the instructions in our DNA are converted into a functional product. These abnormalities cause people living with HIV, even those who religiously take their antiretrovirals, to nose-dive their physical health.

Carrico and his team found that stimulants like methamphetamine may even expand HIV reservoirs in patients, creating more hiding places for the virus. And antiretrovirals aren’t able to reach some of those reservoirs.

Stimulant drugs, especially hard drugs like methamphetamine, are horrible for your body. There are so many other reasons to avoid it. Meth mouth is caused by excessive dry mouth, and your teeth literally fall out. It’s not cute by anyone’s standard. Methamphetamine can ruin your bones and teeth, your emotional well-being, the relationships with your friends and family and your physical health. Many of the effects of methamphetamine use are partially irreversible.

Gay men are attracted to methamphetamine for its supposed power to enhance sexual pleasure. But in reality, it’s most likely just excessive amounts of dopamine firing off in the brain. Meth not only drains out all of the dopamine out of your body — it destroys dopamine receptors, meaning you could permanently lose the ability to feel pleasure or at least lose the amount of pleasure you experienced before using methamphetamine.

One byproduct of the study is that they may have stumbled on a way to coax HIV cells out of stubborn hidden reservoirs. “One of the dominant theories in HIV cure research is ‘wake and kill,’” Carrico said. “This study could help us to understand those mechanisms that regulate the ability of HIV to hide in immune cells.”

This study confirms what other studies have indicated, that monocyte activation and other mechanisms can be ruined by methamphetamine and it can cause a deadly progression in HIV.

Don’t kid yourself. There is no good train of logic to justify using methamphetamine, especially for those living with HIV. Methamphetamine addiction is a beast that’s very difficult for anyone to control, and it’s easy to get sucked into the lifestyle. The list of cons far outweighs any pros, or any temporary feelings of invincibility or sexual arousal. Multiples studies have pointed out high rates of methamphetamine use specifically among people living with HIV, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.




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Benjamin M. Adams