THE CONNECTION BETWEEN DRUG ADDICTION AND HIV-AIDS
Drug abusers and addicts can sometimes exhibit dangerous behaviors that can potentially put them at higher risks for contracting life-threatening illnesses like HIV/AIDS. Once this deadly viral infection enters the body of an addict, it quickly spreads into the bloodstream and wreaks tremendous havoc on the immune system, which can ultimately result in painful side effects or a slow and painful death. Health experts warn that the most prominent factors for contracting HIV/AIDS reusing old/contaminated needles (for injection) or engaging in unprotected sex with a person infected with the virus.
Before we begin, let’s take a closer look at the illnesses in question.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a viral infection that decreases the amount of T Cells (CD4) in the immune system and prevents the human body from fighting off normally non-life threatening infections or bacteria.
Ultimately, people who contract HIV will no longer be able to fight off illnesses. This stage is what is commonly referred to as AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). Typically, doctors confirm a patient has AIDS if their T cell count is less than 200 (contradicting the normal range of 500 to 1,600 in a non-infected, healthy human). Individuals who suffer from HIV may not necessarily progress to the AIDS state.
As of 2015, health experts determined that a staggering 1.1 million United States citizens suffer from HIV, while approximately 162,500 victims do not realize they are suffering from this life-threatening illness. Furthermore, 6 % of people who inject drugs into their systems suffer from HIV. In 1998, 36% of IDU (injected drug use) victims suffered from AIDS in our country.
How to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDs in Drug Addicts
One of the most important steps to preventing the spread of HIV in drug addicts is rigorous rehabilitation and educational programs that aggressively warn these individuals about the dangers of reckless behavior and using unclean needles. Community projects and rigorous detox programs should spearhead opportunities to educate civilians about these dangers. Meanwhile, experts argue that drug treatment and HIV treatment programs should be combined to create awareness.
Steps may include:
- Refraining from drug use
- Drug rehabilitation (for addicts) or drug education (for non-addicts)
- Undergoing HIV/AIDS tests (to prevent the spread)
- Taking measures for safe sex
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