Substance abuse and HIV

30 years ago the HIV epidemic found its way to our country. We are only now beginning to turn the tide against this epidemic which has devastated our families, communities and country. Drug abuse is also an epidemic that is taking its toll in our communities, especially affecting young people. We read terrible stories of young people addicted to nyope, tick, dagga, mandrax and abusing alcohol.

Addiction also has no cure - so once you hooked, you hooked for life – and rehabilitation may or may not help; therefore it’s best to never start taking drugs!

Alcohol and drug abuse has also been linked with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. So what exactly does this mean?

Does using drugs and alcohol increase your chances of getting HIV?

Yes, using drugs and alcohol interferes with your mind and good judgement. You are more likely to take risks and do things that you will regret or not even remember that may expose you to getting HIV. Some of these risks include:
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Getting so drunk or 'high' you put yourself in a dangerous situation where rape can happen
  • Trading sexual favours for drugs or money
  • Sharing needles to inject drugs into your body

Why is using drugs and alcohol as an HIV positive person not good?

If you are HIV positive, drugs and alcohol abuse can weaken you body’s immune system, which fights infections. For people with HIV, this is very dangerous as it can put you at risk of picking up viruses, which can make you very sick.

Drugs and alcohol can also have dangerous reactions with your ART medication causing them not to work or give you bad side effects.

When you use drugs and alcohol, it can cause you to forget to take your ART medication which an HIV positive person needs to take every day to stay well.

And for some people who become addicted to substances (like alcohol and drugs) they do not take care of their health or eat properly which may make them get sick faster.

If you have any more questions or concerns about your own risk or HIV, go see a doctor or nurse at your local clinic. Knowledge is power!

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Anonymous 15 February 2017 16:33

thank you for the information, this site helps us a lot as young people. what do you think about BLUETOOTH? how can we make people who are using BLUETOOTH to know the dangers of it? can we come with a strategy on how to approach them?

Thank you for your question. We have sent it to an expert and will get back to you within 48 hours with a response.
Awoshkins 22 August 2015 09:30

This is true. Young people have no control when they are under the influence. There should be messages like the one from Dept of transport" Don't drink and drive" and health message must say "Don't drink and have sex with a stranger, Don't drink and have unprotected sex" the consequances are very high there's a risk of unplanned pregancy, contracting STIs including HIV. Young people should drink responsible and at a legal aga to drink.

Anonymous 21 August 2015 16:49

If i have a skin problem What most i do?

yoyo 21 August 2015 16:49

If i have a skin problem What most i do?

B-Wise Expert Expert 6 May 2016 13:20

Skin problems are stressful no matter your age. There are many reasons for skin problems so it is best to go to your local clinic and tell the nurse or doctor about your symptoms as you may need to get treatment.