Researchers and scientists have made huge advances in the treatment of HIV. At one point, patients who were diagnosed with the virus were almost guaranteed a painful, imminent death. However, the medication and knowledge available to health care providers allows for most HIV patients to live a relatively normal life. Although, this is not the case for HIV patients who also have a history of drug abuse or continue to use drugs. A new study is being conducted in South Florida to examine the relationship between cocaine use and liver disease among HIV patients.
Drug use and Hepatitis C are often linked because one of the most likely ways to contract the disease is by using needles. HIV users who abuse drugs like cocaine and also use needles and develop Hepatitis C need more specialized care, as their ability to fight off any other disease or illness is diminished.
“Liver disease is known to shorten the lives of people with HIV. With 35 million people around the world with HIV – and a large number of them regular drug users – this research is focused on determining how to help them more effectively,” explained Marianna K. Baum, the researcher that is heading the study. She stressed that it is difficult to treat HIV patients that have an addiction to cocaine because it makes them more resistant to medication and they are less likely to follow a medication and therapy regimen.
The idea to look into more effective treatments for these patients came after Baum realized that some of her patients had slower disease progression when they took over the counter vitamins. She decided that this link may provide better solutions for those who are struggling with the virus and liver disease.
The research is being conducted at the Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work. Researchers will use data from the Miami Adult Studies on HIV. The team will focus on populations that are often left out of HIV studies to help get more inclusive results.