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Cocaine Could Open You Up to HIV?

Cocaine Could Open You Up to HIV?
Scarface

Bad news, party people.

Researchers at UCLA found that cocaine use can make certain immune cells more susceptible to HIV. Of course, you're all engaging in safe sex and avoiding intravenous drug use, so that isn't issue.

But if you're not, the new study suggests that you could be priming your body for the virus:

The research was published in the October issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

The UCLA team, led by Dimitrios Vatakis, an assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, suggests that "quiescent CD4 T cells," normally a part of your body's natural defense against HIV, can weaken for those who use the drug.

Vatakis:

The surprising result was that the changes cocaine induced on these cells were very minimal, yet they were sufficient to fuel infection. We found that cocaine mediates its effects directly, inducing minimal changes in the physiology of these cells and utilizing the same pathways it uses to target the brain.

The academics actually exposed healthy human blood samples to cocaine and observed what happened to those cells. According to a summary:

... A three-day exposure to cocaine made the cells more susceptible to HIV infection by stimulating two receptors in the cells, called σ1 and D4. The findings suggest that cocaine use increases the pool of T cells in the human body that can become infected by the virus.

The study says the results have "significant implications for HIV seropositive individuals who abuse or use stimulants such as cocaine."

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