Tina and HIV
for HIV+ men
Tina and meds
Tina and seroconversion
Considerations for HIV+ men
HIV+ guys who use Tina are more likely to get other sexually
transmitted infections (STIs) because we may have more partners
and may be more likely to engage in unprotected sex. We may
get multiple infections - reinfected with other strains of
HIV or co-infected with Hepatitis C. We may not be as concerned
about our partner’s status and that leads to infecting
other guys as well.
Crystal meth runs down our immune systems. Lifestyle impacts
like poor nutrition and disrupted sleep patterns play a role
in disease progression. Of greater impact may be challenges
in maintaining adherence to our prescription schedules. On
Tina we may interrupt taking our HIV meds. This can eventually
lead to accelerated drug resistance and treatment failure.
Also, we really don’t know how Tina (and the various
potential ingredients in batches) interacts with our meds.
Although it is commonly reported that Tina increases rate
of HIV viral replication, this is not conclusively known.
Crystal meth can speed up the rate of viral replication in
the lab, but this has not yet been demonstrated in people.
We do know that using crystal does not increase T-cells or
boost our immune systems. That is a myth.
Tina use and HIV infection are responsible for changes in
the size of brain structures that can result in cognitive
impairment including memory loss, attention deficit, ability
to learn and process new information, and solve problems.
HIV+ crystal meth users may amplify their chances for long-term
cognitive impairment, including dementia. We know that the
brain has the ability to regenerate and heal in a variety
of ways to repair and compensate for damage caused by crystal
meth use. We know that this process can take months and years.
What we’re not clear about yet is wither recovery is
complete or not. Some damage may be permanent.
Disclose use to health care providers.
For these reasons and more, disclosing to our health care
providers is a good idea. A lot of men who use drugs feel
judged and intimidated by their doctors. Some of this is real,
some of this is imagined. In order to provide complete and
accurate recommendations, our health care provider does need
to know about our drug use: both medical and recreational.
Otherwise, he or she could prescribe a medication or dose
that doesn't mix well with crystal, or provide inappropriate
If our doctor won't talk respectfully and openly about our
drug use, tell him or her how you feel. If talking it through
doesn't work – ask around and try and get a new doctor.
TIP: There is excellent information, tips and updated referral
lists maintained by Referral Services at the AIDS Committee
of Toronto. You can read the pdf file ‘HIV Care Doctors
in the City of Toronto’ here.
Nurture relationships with all health care providers
Disclosure has another potential benefit: better care. Users
have a tendency to miss appointments between flying high while
using and careening into depression afterwards. Sessions with
a user can be difficult and unrewarding for a health care
provider. Honesty can bridge the gap.
For our part, being on time (even if our doctor is usually
running late) for our appointments, and definitely keeping
them, will help maintain a positive context for a healthy
relationship. Drug users already have a stigma of being irresponsible.
We need to do our part not to reinforce that. If we are unable
to make an appointment or are running late, call their office
to let them know with as much notice as possible.