Injection drug use is associated with poor HIV outcomes even among persons receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), but there are limited data on the relationship between non-injection drug use and HIV disease progression.
We conducted an observational study of HIV-infected persons entering care between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2004, with follow-up through December 31, 2005.
There were 1,712 persons in the study cohort: 262 with a history of injection drug use (IDU), 785 with a history of non-injection drug use, and 665 with no history of drug use; 56% were white, and 24% were females. Median follow-up was 2.1 years, 33% had HAART prior to first visit, 40% initiated first HAART during the study period, and 306 (17.9%) had an AIDS-defining event or died. Adjusting for sex, age, race, prior antiretroviral use, CD4 cell count, and HIV-1 RNA, patients with a history of injection drug use were more likely to advance to AIDS or death than non-users (adjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 1.97, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.43-2.70, P<0.01). There was no statistically significant difference of disease progression between non-injection drug users and non-users (HR=1.19, 95% CI 0.92-1.56, P=0.19). An analysis among the subgroup who initiated their first HAART during the study period (n=687) showed a similar pattern (IDUs: 1.83, 1.09-3.06, P=0.02; non-IDUs: 1.21, 0.81-1.80, P=0.35). Seventy-four patients had active IDU during the study period, 768 active non-IDU, and 870 no substance use. Analyses based on active drug use during the study period did not substantially differ from those based on history of drug use.
This study shows no relationship between non-injection drug use and HIV disease progression. This study is limited by using history drug use and lumping together different types of drugs. Further studies ascertaining specific type and extent of non-injection drug use in a prospective way, and with longer follow-up, are needed.