Crystal + HIV
Are you concerned about the impact of your drug use on your health? If you said YES, then read on.
This material is intended for HIV+ gay & bisexual men who use crystal. If you are HIV+, frequent use of crystal may have a negative impact on your health. Science has proven that the use of some illegal and legal drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, can weaken your immune system.
A weakened immune system is going to make it harder for your body to fight off infections and tumors. Many drug users find it difficult to EAT, DRINK, SLEEP AND ADHERE TO THEIR MEDICATION REGIMENS when they're high. Not taking proper care of your body's basic needs will further weaken your body's natural defenses. Have you noticed that you're more likely to catch a cold after a weekend run? Lowering your body's natural defenses is going to make it more likely that you'll pick up a sexually transmitted disease, if you have risky sex.
1 out of 3 crystal injectors is HIV+
When you shoot drugs, impurities and bacteria go directly into your blood stream along with the drug. This can be as harmful for your immune system as the drugs themselves. If you are going to inject, remember DO NOT SHARE or reuse any drug injection equipment: syringes, cottons, cookers, water, water bottles or tourniquets.
Not everyone who is HIV+ will have health problems because of their drug use. The best advice if you're HIV+ is to STOP or CUT BACK on your use of crystal and other party drugs. Some people aren't ready or don't want to stop partying... that's just not where you are in your life. If you are going to continue partying, READ ON to learn more about how you can reduce the harm that drug use can have on your health and well being.
Can I Still Have Great Sex?
Crystal and other party drugs, including alcohol, can leave you feeling disoriented and make it hard to make the best decisions. Even when you're not high, it can be awkward to talk with your partners about what you want and what kind of sex you're willing to have. If you're high, it can be near impossible if you haven't practiced this skill. You might not tell your partners you're HIV+, even if you end up fucking OR have fucked without condoms. Being high is not a good reason for infecting others or getting infected with HIV or other STDs.
If you know that you have unprotected sex or take other sexual risks that you feel uncomfortable with when you're partying, maybe it's time to talk to someone about it. Call one of NEON's free, fabulous & friendly counselors at 206.323.1768. Or you can call the HIV/STD Hotline at 206.205.STDS (7837). You can also talk with your doctor or case manager. Whatever you do, don't give up on yourself. Taking care of yourself and your sex partner(s) is the best way to protect your sex life, your future and your community.
Why Spoil a Good Thing?
For some guys who party on a regular basis, sex without being high is hard to imagine. Some have said that having sex while high is the best and most enjoyable sex that they've ever had. For others, having sex while high brings about feelings of loneliness and isolation. Whether you feel one way or the other, one thing is certain: some guys who fuck when they're high forget about using CONDOMS & LUBE. Often, guys who don't use rubbers, regret or feel bad about what they've done after they come down.
Whether you are having the most intense sex of your lifetime or just tricking at the baths, infecting or getting infected with HIV or other STDs will impact your ability to have healthy sex in the future. Is a rubber-less fuck going to be worth a trip to the STD Clinic if you pick up a nasty case of syphilis? Why spoil a good thing? Better to reduce your chances of getting an STD and keep those pleasant memories of the great sex!
Does Partying Harm the Immune System?
Many people know that HIV damages and weakens the immune system over time. A damaged immune system makes it difficult for your body to fight off disease. Using crystal is likely to further suppress your immune system. The effects can be harmful for both the short and longer terms. Also, the partying lifestyle itself can weaken your system. Staying up for long periods of time, not drinking enough water, not eating enough, or not eating the right foods, and not taking your meds at the right time wreck the immune system.
"Using crystal is likely to further suppress your immune system. The effects can be harmful for both the short and longer terms."
Living Longer and Better with new HIV Medications
Thanks to recent advances in HIV treatment, many HIV+ people are living longer and healthier lives. Some HIV+ people have found a new lease on life. Now, many doctors look forward to telling their patients that their blood tests show undetectable levels of HIV virus, or that their T-cell counts have stopped dropping and have even started to increase. Sadly, this is not always the case. Some treatments have not worked at all or only for a short while, or the medications have had serious side effects and have cause health problems like kidney stones, diarrhea and other conditions. HIV medications make some people feel tired, depressed or just plain bad. Some HIV medications need to be refrigerated, taken at a specific time or consumed with or without a particular food. If you are a dedicated party boy, staying on a HIV treatment plan can be a hard thing to do... unless you've planned out how you're going to do it.
Mixing HIV medications with crystal and other party drugs: DANGEROUS COCKTAIL!
"The best advice if you're HIV+ is to STOP or CUT BACK on your use of crystal and other party drugs."
Can Your Liver Do It's Job?
HIV medications and party drugs have something in common: both are processed out of your blood stream by your liver. But your liver can only do so much at one time, overload it and both prescribed and party drugs can build up to dangerous levels in your blood stream. This can lead to overdose or other dangerous conditions, such as a heart attack, stroke, or coma.
In general, protease inhibitors (Ritonavir, Indinavir, Nelfinavir & Saquinavir) and a few other medications used in HIV treatment (Ketoconazole, Itraconazole & Delaviridine) slow down the action of certain enzymes found in the liver. These enzymes allow the liver to filter specific drugs from of your blood stream and out of your body. With fewer enzymes available, both prescribed medications and party drugs can build up to toxic levels. This toxic build up can cause mild or severe health problems and can definitely ruin your high.
What Can You Do?
Start by talking with your doctor about the party drugs you use. Only then will he or she be able to advise you about the potential for harmful drug interactions. Don't forget to include your use of Viagra or poppers. Speaking openly and honestly with your doctor is the only way to sound medical advice. Your doctor may tell that you should stop using party drugs. If you're not ready to stop, don't let the conversation end there. Don't agree to do something that you're not really going to do. Ask your doctor for guidance about how you can reduce the potential for harmful interactions. Explore strategies such as cutting back the amount of party drugs you're going to use or how often you use them.
NEON offers OPTIONS for gay and bi guys who inject crystal.
Just call us at 206.323.1768
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