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Life Sci. 2011 May 23;88(21-22):972-9. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2010.10.029. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Drugs of abuse and HIV infection/replication: implications for mother-fetus transmission.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and progression of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) can be modulated by a number of cofactors, including drugs of abuse. Opioids, cocaine, cannabinoids, methamphetamine (METH), alcohol, and other substances of abuse have been implicated as risk factors for HIV infection, as they all have the potential to compromise host immunity and facilitate viral replication. Although epidemiologic evidence regarding the impact of drugs of abuse on HIV disease progression is mixed, in vitro studies as well as studies using in vivo animal models have indicated that drugs of abuse have the ability to enhance HIV infection/replication. Drugs of abuse may also be a risk factor for perinatal transmission of HIV. Because high levels of viral load in maternal blood are associated with increased risk of HIV vertical transmission, it is likely that drugs of abuse play an important role in promoting mother-fetus transmission. Furthermore, because the neonatal immune system differs qualitatively from the adult system, it is possible that maternal exposure to drugs of abuse would exacerbate neonatal immunity defects, facilitating HIV infection of neonate immune cells and promoting HIV vertical transmission. The availability and use of antiretroviral therapy for women infected with HIV increase, there is an increasing interest in determining the impact of drug abuse on efficacy of AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG)-standardized treatment regimens for woman infected with HIV in the context of HIV vertical transmission.

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