HIV COMMISSION

Public Health Issue: HIV and Substance Use Disorders

  • Substance use disorder (SUD) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are pervasive overlapping epidemics with a vast array of social and health consequences at individual and societal levels. Injection drug use with contaminated needles puts the individual at high risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV. Substance use lowers individuals’ guard and predisposes to behaviors which put them at risk for HIV. Persons with HIV have high prevalence of alcohol and other drug problems and are at increased risk for accidental overdose, have psychiatric disorders, family and social problems. HIV positive individuals struggle with coping with challenges related to their recovery and treatment of their HIV illness. Substance use often delays HIV treatment, generates serious drug/drug interactions, and contributes to poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and HIV treatment. Lack of HIV testing during substance use treatment and inadequate screening and diagnosis of SUDs during HIV treatment could lead to serious medical and psychological problems.

Public Health Issue: HIV and Substance Use Disorders