Cocaine Use Adds to HIV Problem

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Cocaine Use Can Make Otherwise Resistant Immune Cells Susceptible to HIV

Released: 10/1/2013 6:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom:
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences

In many ways, the spread of HIV has been fueled by substance abuse. Shared needles and drug users’ high-risk sexual behaviors are just some of the ways that narcotics such as cocaine have played a key role in the AIDS epidemic in much of the world.

There is, however, relatively little research into how drugs can impact the body’s defenses against the virus. But a new UCLA study published in the October issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology examines how cocaine affects a unique population of immune cells called quiescent CD4 T cells, which are resistant to the virus that causes AIDS.

The results: cocaine makes the cells susceptible to infection with HIV, causing both significant infection and new production of the virus. Read more..


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