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HIV risk closely tied to drug use, study finds

Category: HIV

Methamphetamine use can cause a number of health problems, but new research out of Johns Hopkins University suggests that the risk of receiving a positive HIV test may be near the top of the list.

Researchers found that nearly one third of men who have sex with men surveyed as part of their study who reported recent meth use also admitted to having sex with a person who they knew was infected with HIV. Half of the respondents said they had sex with injection drug users and a majority reported engaging in unprotected sex.

For Jonathan Ellen, the lead researcher on the study, the problems of HIV risk and drug use are so inextricably intertwined that addressing one means making efforts to solve the other.

"Drug use is closely linked to risk-taking behaviors, including sexually risky behaviors, so any HIV prevention efforts must, by definition, include drug use prevention and treatment of those with known drug problems," he said.

He added that many types of illicit drugs - not just meth - are known to increase rates of risky sexual behavior, and that HIV prevention efforts should focus more on stopping drug abuse.

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