Recreational drug use high in patients with HIV, may interfere with ART
Many patients with HIV receiving ongoing treatment frequently engage in recreational drug use, a new cross-sectional study reports. Unfortunately, these substances may interfere with clinical outcomes and may potentially interact with the antiretroviral agents.
For the observational, cross-sectional study, a total of 208 adult patients confirmed to have HIV and were currently receiving treatment were recruited. Those with language barriers, suffering from cognitive decline, enrolled in other studies and who only recently started their antiretroviral therapies were excluded.
Questionnaires were administered to collect information about sociodemographic backgrounds, adherence to antiretroviral medication, drug use for the past 12 months and high-risk sexual behaviours. Supplementary information like viral load, time on treatment, comorbidities and other medications were retrieved from clinical records.
Primary outcomes of the study were associations of recreational drug use with adherence to medication and high risk sexual behaviour.
Of all the participants, 44.2 percent or 92 participants reported to have engaged in recreational drug use over the past year. A further 48.8 percent or 44 participants used a variety of recreational drugs in this time period.
Of the different recreational drugs documented, cannabis was found to be the most common (68.5 percent). This was followed by cocaine and nitrites (45.5 and 31.5 percent, respectively). Other drugs used by the participants were sildenafil (28.3 percent) and ecstasy (19.6 percent).
Interestingly, of the 92 participants that used recreational drugs, relevant drug-antiretroviral medication interactions were observed in almost half or 46 participants.
Similarly, consumption of recreational drugs was associated with difficulties in adherence to the antiretroviral medications (odds ratio [OR], 2.51; 95 percent CI, 1.32 to 4.77; p=0.005). High-risk sexual behaviour was also associated with recreational drug use (OR, 2.81; 1.47 to 5.39; p=0.002).
The findings show that use of recreational drugs is fairly common in patients with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapies, and this may subsequently negatively impact clinical outcomes by interacting with antiretroviral medications or reducing patient adherence to treatments.