Public Release: 

Cocaine use linked to poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy in HIV patients

NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

Researchers from the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City measured adherence to antiretroviral drug regimens in 85 HIV-infected current and former cocaine users.

The study's lead investigator, Dr. Julia H. Arnsten, says that active cocaine use was the strongest predictor of poor adherence and, in turn, failure to maintain viral suppression. Overall adherence among cocaine users was 27 percent, compared with 68 percent among subjects who reported no cocaine use during the 6-month study period. Thirteen percent of active cocaine users maintained viral suppression, compared with 46 percent of nonusers.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

WHAT IT MEANS: The findings from this study indicate that interventions to improve adherence to drug regimens to treat HIV infection should include assessing and treating cocaine use by patients.

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This study was published in the May 2002 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which was a special issue devoted to the subject of substance abuse.

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