If you are one of the more than 38 million people worldwide who are currently living with HIV, then you are probably well-versed in the ins and outs of this progressive disease. But, if you have been newly diagnosed or if you are unsure if you have it or not, you might not know as much as you would like to.
What is HIV?
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a type of virus that attacks the immune system. HIV is a progressive disease, so without treatment, it can turn into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Despite the millions of people who currently have HIV, as well as the approximately 700,000 people who have already died from it in the United States alone, there still remains no cure for it.
HIV first came into the spotlight in 1981, when the first cases were detected in the United States. At that time, there was a significant lack of information regarding this specific virus, meaning that many people continued to spread and contract it, as well as lose their lives from it. In fact, the lack of information only fueled a negative stigma about this virus itself, where people only believed that it could be contracted through male-to-male sexual relations. But, by 1991, two major celebrities – Freddie Mercury and Magic Johnson — announced that they were HIV+. It was after this moment in time that the understanding surrounding HIV and AIDS become more well known.
Today, there are several medications that can help treat the symptoms related to HIV. While the virus is incurable, the complications that individuals experience as a result of it can be slowed and in some instances prevented. Eventually, however, those with HIV either succumb to an ailment that their immune system cannot bounce back from or they develop AIDS and lose their lives in a similar manner.
HIV and Substance Abuse
The public education and prevention protocols that have been obtained by Americans and others throughout the world have helped mitigate the spread of this continued epidemic. However, among those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, rates of HIV transmission and new cases continue to occur for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Intravenous drug use — Popular drugs of abuse, such as meth, crack cocaine, heroin, and other opioids, can all be intravenously used. In short, this means that they can be injected directly into a vein via syringe. This is a preferred method of consumption for many, as the desired drug immediately hits the bloodstream and starts producing effects almost instantaneously. But, using syringes to inject drugs is one of the primary causes of HIV spread among substance users. When under the influence of mind-altering substances, it can be easy to pick up someone else’s syringe and use it, potentially spreading HIV. The desire to get high can also be more powerful than the concern for acquiring HIV or other blood borne diseases, tempting users to share needles if they do not have their own.
- Risky sexual behavior — Anytime mind-altering substances like drugs or alcohol are being abused, inhibitions become lowered. As a result, it is common for people to experience risky sexual behavior. Rather than ensuring they have protection, those under the influence are more likely to engage in sexual acts without the proper protection to prevent the spread of HIV and STI’s. Also, the frequency with which a person has intimate relations with more than one person can increase due to being affected by substances.
- Prostitution — Drug and alcohol addiction gets expensive and fast. Continuing to support this type of habit can be nearly impossible, especially for those who have lost their jobs due to their use or who do not have enough resources to pay for what they need. For many, especially women, turning to prostitution to get enough money for drugs and alcohol becomes commonplace. Unfortunately, however, prostitution is closely linked with the spread of HIV and other STI’s, especially considering the anonymity surrounding it as well as the frequency with which it occurs.
When one’s mind is not in the right place due to drug and/or alcohol abuse, the decision they make can last for a lifetime and potentially even be fatal. That is why getting treatment for a substance use disorder is imperative, as doing so can prevent the spread of HIV as well as help those who have it begin the treatment they need.
Can I Still Get Into Drug Rehab With HIV?
When you are faced with the lifelong challenges of both a substance use disorder and HIV, doing anything to help yourself might feel useless. You might be in a place mentally where you don’t feel like anything you can do will help your situation. However, that is the farthest thing from the truth. If you need drug rehab and you also have HIV, you can get the help you need.
At Genesis House, we focus on treating the whole person, regardless of which conditions they might also be experiencing at the same time. With our team of professionals, both medical and mental, you can rest assured that you will be able to access the care you need. In the event that we feel you can benefit more from outside resources in regards to your HIV, we are happy to provide referrals and continue to work with you to ensure your continued recovery.
Get Help in Florida Today
If you live with both HIV and drug addiction, there is always help available to you. We at Genesis House have safe and nurturing drug rehabilitation programs available for anybody who wants to be free of their addictions. Visit us online to learn more about our many treatment programs and how they can help you. If you need immediate help for yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to call us at 844-903-2111. No matter who you are, always remember that there is help available to you, even when things seem hopeless.