Crack cocaine use frequency is associated with HIV disease severity independent of antiretroviral therapy exposure: a prospective cohort study

AIDS Behav. 2022 Apr 16. doi: 10.1007/s10461-022-03648-y. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

We sought to evaluate the effect of crack cocaine use frequency on HIV disease severity among HIV-positive people who use unregulated drugs (PWUD). We analyzed data from the ACCESS study, an open prospective cohort of HIV-positive PWUD including comprehensive HIV clinical monitoring in a setting with no-cost healthcare. Multivariable generalized linear mixed-effects models were used to estimate the independent effect of time-updated crack cocaine use frequency on HIV disease severity, adjusting for ART exposure and relevant confounders. In multivariable adjusted models, daily or greater frequency of crack cocaine use was significantly associated with higher VACS Index scores (β = 0.8, 95% confidence interval: 0.1, 1.5) as compared to none. Our finding suggests that daily or greater frequency of crack cocaine use exacerbates HIV disease severity independent of ART exposure. The observed effect may reflect an underlying biological mechanism or other factors linked with crack cocaine use; further investigation is warranted.

Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; Crack cocaine; Disease severity; HIV-1; Substance use disorders.