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South Africa has one of the highest HIV rates in the world, in addition to this, we have a substance abuse epidemic on our hands.
Substance abuse plays a significant factor in HIV infection and its progression to AIDS.
Although HIV/AIDS can affect anyone, patients with a substance abuse problem face a significantly higher risk of infection, this is due to the direct exposure through needles and the increased likelihood of high risk behaviour due to lowered inhibitions and loss of judgement.
Consequently, substance abuse is a primary concern to HIV/AIDS as it promotes actions which increase the initial risk of infection.
Furthermore, abusing substances can also influence disease progression as they interfere with the effectiveness of treatment.
When a person becomes exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus infects the patient’s white blood cells, particularly their CD4+ T cells.
The problem is, T cells play crucial roles in your body’s health and its ability to mount an appropriate immune response to infections and their loss results in significantly diminished immune functioning.
It often takes several years to develop AIDS, during this time there are several treatments available that can delay or stop the disease’s progression for many years.
Although there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, it possible to live a high-quality life as long as the disease is managed with medication and a healthy lifestyle is followed.
However, the current ability to effectively stop the development of AIDS in HIV-positive individuals makes commitment to medications and the avoidance of factors, such as substance abuse, critical to maintaining a high quality of life.
In addition to alcohol abuse increasing the risk of exposure to HIV, abusing alcohol can also affect the success of HIV/AIDS treatments and their maintenance in many ways.
Frequent alcohol abuse weakens the immune system, and for someone suffering from HIV a healthy immune system is extremely important.
Weakening the immune system further increases the risk of contracting additional infections while also increasing the chances of the disease progressing to AIDS prematurely.
The effectiveness of antiretroviral therapies (ART) is hugely diminished in heavy drinkers and they are far less likely to achieve a positive response to antiretroviral therapies.
Additionally, alcohol abuse can be detrimental to people who are HIV positive because it significantly impairs their judgement. HIV treatments must be taken in the right doses and at the right times, however, chronic alcohol abuse impairs a person’s ability to take the correct amount of medications at the correct times and can have a negative impact on disease treatment.
Drug abuse effects the risk of HIV, HIV complications and the effectiveness of HIV treatments, as well as long-term HIV/AIDS diagnosis.
Often for HIV positive drug users the conditions and complications associated with their use lead to poor treatment. This is because drug users are less likely to have access to effective treatments and are less likely to follow them.
Due to lack of funds and resources, HIV drug users must rely on government clinics and ART, as well as limited access to accommodating rehabilitation centres.
Furthermore, drug abuse severely impairs your judgement, creating difficulties in maintaining a consistent HIV/AIDS treatment when available.
HIV positive drug users may also be reluctant to seek help out of fear of possible punishment.
The fear of stepping forward decreases the likelihood of a person seeking treatment and consequently increases the chances that HIV may be passed to other people.
This creates a cycle, where people are more likely to take part in risky sexual behaviour because of their drug use and are less likely to seek help out of fear of being punished.
Additionally, some clinics and medical providers may refuse to provide services to someone who is openly abusing illicit drugs because it is unlikely that they will follow the treatment programme correctly.
Although there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, it is possible to live a full life. It’s important to remember that being diagnosed with HIV doesn’t mean your life is over.
Turning to substance abuse is not the answer and it will significantly diminish your quality of life.
Choosing to stop abusing substances after being diagnosed with HIV is the best thing you could do for yourself and Step Away Rehabilitation Centre can help you.
Our facilities accommodate all substance abuse and our staff offer great support and guidance through struggles and triumphs.
We offer judgement free treatment and have helped many people through similar circumstances.
Freeing yourself from addiction can and will improve your life.
For more information about our facilities and treatment centre, please contact us.
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