Overall, the investigators conclude that the drug inhibits HIV replication in the body, which can slow the decline in the number of CD4 cells, which are important for the immune system to work properly. However, this statement is accompanied by a significant note of caution, stating that there is, at present, no evidence to suggest that methamphetamine helps to prevent the development of AIDS in people living with HIV.
It has been suggested that the use of crystal methamphetamine is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection because of increases in risky sexual behaviour, though the significance of this suggestion is unclear. In an article to be published in Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice, an article currently available on-line, Hodges et al attempt to examine whether crystal methamphetamine use increases the risk of HIV infection, and to examine some of the assumptions that are made about this relationship.
Crystal methamphetamine use was found to be associated with a number of potentially risky behaviours. First, the use of the drug was associated with unprotected anal intercourse and receptive anal intercourse, although results from the unadjusted analysis suggest that men who had used the drug were less likely to engage in these behaviours than those who had not. The unadjusted findings were not reproduced in a multiple logistic regression analysis that included adjustment for potential confounders such as alcohol use. Men who had used the drug had an increased risk of engaging in unprotected sexual activity with a casual partner compared with men who had not used the drug.
Second, levels of socialised drinking were reported to be significantly lower amongst men who had used the drug. Levels of current alcohol consumption were also lower amongst the methamphetamine users, but not enough to suggest that the frequency of heavy drinking was increased amongst these men. Over a third of MSM who had never taken the drug had been identified as heavy alcohol users compared with 16% of those who had used the drug. d2c66b5586