HIV/AIDS & Hepatitis C


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and is transmitted through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. Drug abuse and addiction have been inextricably linked with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. While intravenous drug use is well known in this regard, less recognized is the role that drug abuse plays more generally in the spread of HIV by increasing the likelihood of high-risk sex with infected partners. Nearly one-quarter of AIDS cases stem from intravenous drug use, and one in four people living with HIV/AIDS in the period of 2005 - 2009 reported use of alcohol or drugs to an extent that required treatment. Drug abuse and addiction can also worsen the progression of HIV and its consequences, especially in the brain. For example, in animal studies, methamphetamine increased the amount of HIV virus present in the brain; and in human studies, HIV caused greater neuronal injury and cognitive impairment in methamphetamine abusers compared to non-drug users (NIDA).

Hepatitis C

According to NIDA, hepatitis C is a viral disease that destroys liver cells, and is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States. People become infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) through direct contact with an infected person's blood. Injecting drug users (IDUs) contract hepatitis C by sharing contaminated needles and other drug injection paraphernalia. Although this contact can occur in a number of ways, injection drug use now accounts for at least 60 percent of HCV transmission in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC). Because HCV is highly transmissible through the blood, anyone who has ever injected drugs is at risk for liver disease and should be tested for the virus (NIDA).


DrugFacts: HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse: Intertwined Epidemics (NIDA)
Drug Abuse and HIV, Letter from the Director (NIDA)
HIV Basics (CDC)
National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States (Office of National Aids Policy)
Facts About Drug Abuse and Hepatitis C (NIDA)
Hepatitis C Information for the Public (CDC)
Recommendations for Testing, Managing, and Treating Hepatitis C (American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD))

ASAM Public Policies

ASAM Public Policy Statements - HIV/AIDS and Addiction Category
HIV Testing of Patients in Addiction Treatment Facilities
Primary Medical Care for HIV Infected Patients in Addiction Treatment
Access to Sterile Syringes and Needles (formerly "Needle Exchange")
Hepatitis C: Supplemental Information for Physicians
Hepatitis C (with Physician Supplement)