HIV and recreational drug use:what nurses need to know

Shaun Watson
Clinical Nurse Specialist (HIV Community), Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust

Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic the role, effect and infl uence of recreational psychoactive drug use is undeniable. It has played a factor in HIV transmission and has had an effect upon adherence and interactions with antiretroviral therapy (ART). Across the globe the HIV epidemic has consisted of pockets of prevalence within certain at-risk groups; in the UK, particularly Scotland, recreational drug use was predominantly in the drug injecting population. In London agencies had been set up to specifi – cally support recreational drug users living with HIV such as the (now closed) ‘Griffi n Project’ in Earls Court and ‘Mainliners’. However, the introduction of ART and the reduction in mortality in people living with HIV along with the improved tolerability of newer drugs have led to HIV being considered a chronic condition. At the beginning of the epidemic little time was spent looking at the long-term effects of diet, smoking, alcohol and drug consumption, but today with a near normal life expectancy there is a need for an approach that is tailored to individual needs. This means addressing concerns such as the management of comorbidities, linkage to care and issues such as smoking cessation, alcohol reduction and recreational drug consumption.
Keywords : HIV , recreational drugs , chemsex , drug interactions , ART