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Life Sci. 2011 May 23;88(21-22):931-9. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Jan 8.

Associations between use of crack cocaine and HIV-1 disease progression: research findings and implications for mother-to-infant transmission.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, United States.


Recent in vitro and in vivo research has suggested that cocaine has a direct effect on the pathogenesis of AIDS. These findings are confirmed by epidemiological studies linking the use of injected, inhaled, and smoked (crack) cocaine and indicators of HIV disease progression, even among adherent users of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Recent studies of vertical HIV transmission suggest that cocaine use may play a role in mother-to-child infection via alteration of maternal immune responses, enhanced viral replication in maternal immune cells, or alterations in the immune systems of neonates or infants. The purpose of this article is to review research conducted over the past several decades on associations between use of cocaine and HIV disease progression, especially among HIV+ women, and to explore its potential relevance for understanding mother-to-infant transmission of HIV.

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