There is no evidence that starting antiretroviral therapy leads HIV-positive injecting drug users to have more risky sex, Canadian researchers report in the online edition of AIDS. There was no increase in reported sexual activity, unprotected sex, or number of partners.
“Concerns regarding the expansion of access to ART [antiretroviral therapy] for IDU [injecting drug user] populations due to fears of increased HIV risk behavior in the period following ART initiation are unsupported,” comment the investigators.
Treatment with combination antiretroviral therapy can significantly increase the prognosis of HIV-positive individuals. Such treatment can also dramatically reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to HIV-negative individuals.
HIV treatment can work well in injecting drug users. However, some doctors are reluctant to initiate treatment in drug users. This is because of a fear that this group of patients may not adhere to their treatment.
Moreover, some research has pointed to increased levels of sexual risk taking amongst individuals after they start HIV treatment.
No evidence of increased sexual risk behaviour after initiating antiretroviral therapy among people who inject drugs.
Marshall, Brandon DL; Milloy, M-J; Kerr, Thomas; Zhang, Ruth; Montaner, Julio SG; Wood, Evan.
AIDS 24: online edition, DOI: 10. 1097/QAD.0b013e32833dd101, 2010.
Link to AIDS abstract