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Subst Use Misuse. 2015;50(12):1536-43. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2015.1023451. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

Continued Substance Use Among People Living With HIV-Hepatitis-C Co-Infection and Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy.

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a Department of Psychology , University of Connecticut , Storrs , Connecticut , USA.



Co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis-C virus (HCV) poses a significant threat to personal and public health. Substance use among co-infected persons leads to increased morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this study is to examine the continued substance use of people living with HIV-HCV co-infection and receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).


Individuals living with HIV infection in Atlanta, GA and currently receiving ART (N = 678) completed audio-computer-assisted self-interviews for demographic, health, and behavior characteristics; unannounced pill counts to assess ART adherence over one month; finger-stick blood specimens collected for HCV antibody testing and urine specimens for drug use screening; and obtained HIV viral load and CD4 cell counts from their medical provider. We performed cross-sectional analyses for behavioral and biological markers of health, health behaviors, and substance use.


Among participants, 131 (19%) were HIV-HCV co-infected; 53% were HIV-mono-infected, and 60% of HIV-HCV co-infected participants tested positive for use of at least one non-alcohol drug: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cocaine were most prevalent. HIV-HCV co-infected individuals were older, with no other significant differences. Within the HIV-HCV co-infected participants, drug users (N = 87) did not differ from non-drug users (N = 53) in terms of ART adherence. However, drug users were significantly more likely to have uncontrolled HIV (17%) compared with those who did not test drug positive (4%).


Substance use is prevalent in persons with HIV-HCV co-infection and may interfere with ART. Research with a larger and more representative sample is needed to replicate and confirm these results.


HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis-C, HIV-HCV co-infection, comorbidity

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