The link between HIV and Substance Abuse
There is no easy way to identify whether someone is abusing drugs or alcohol and most of us have a general idea of how bad drugs are for the body and mind, right chomas? Drug Awareness Week begins tomorrow and will be 24 June to 28 June this year. This makes it the perfect time to discuss substance abuse and the risks involved with taking drugs and alcohol with you. There are many dangers involved in taking alcohol and drugs, one of these dangers is an increased risk of contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Here’s how substance abuse can increase your chances of HIV infection.
Drugs and HIV
Many people usually link drug abuse and HIV with needle sharing. When drug users share needles, they increase their chances of being infected with HIV. But, using or sharing unclean equipment like syringes or needles isn’t the only way drug users increase their chances of contracting HIV chomas. Drugs can greatly change or alter someone’s judgement. In other words, someone high on drugs can make decisions that they normally wouldn’t if they were sober, like having unprotected sex which puts them at a higher risk for contracting HIV.
Some people who are addicted to drugs may decide to trade sex for money to buy these drugs, putting them at a higher risk of contracting HIV, especially if they don’t use condoms. It can also lead to having transactional sex with a sugar daddy or blesser where they exchange gifts, drugs or money in exchange for sex.
Alcohol, HIV and increase in risky behaviour
Just like drugs, alcohol can also affect your judgement and decision making and lead to you make bad choices. If you drink too much alcohol, it might lead to you engage in risky sexual behaviour that puts you at a higher risk of contracting HIV. Examples of risky sexual behaviour are:
- Having unprotected sex
- Having sex with someone whose HIV status you don’t know
- Having sex with multiple partners
Alcohol may cause HIV to develop faster in your body
Studies show that people living with HIV, who are currently on Antiretroviral Treatment (ARVs) and drink alcohol, are more likely to have their HIV cells develop faster than those who don’t drink. Chomas, this is because both HIV and alcohol weaken your immune system and as a result increase your chances of being sicker for longer.
Drugs are not cool and you should stay away from them completely. You deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life -so treat yourself and your body with love.
There is no simple way to identify if someone is abusing drugs or alcohol and of course not everyone will admit to taking any drugs or alcohol. But if you think that someone close to you may be struggling with substance abuse, there are usually Try not to be judgemental or harsh towards a loved one when trying to offer support. You can help them by referring them to places that can provide the help and care they need.
Below are details of a few rehabilitation centres and other places where you can get help either for yourself or for someone you care for chomas. You can also Ask Choma if you have any questions on substance abuse.
Kwazulu Natal has many rehab centres for substance abusers who want to quit. Call 082 829 0377 to find out which ones will best suit you
Or, you can try ARCA DURBAN, an addiction treatment centre:
078 272 2911
If you live in the Western Cape, here are a few substance abuse treatment centres:
SHARP Recovery Solutions - Substance Abuse Treatment and Addiction Recovery Wellness
011 728 9200
Houghton House Drug Addiction Treatment Centre
011 787 9142
EDEN RECOVERY CENTRE
011 244 9916
086 14 72622
132 Seventh Street
Cnr. First Ave. Linden, Randburg
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
CLEARVIEW CLINIC SA
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