Methamphetamine use and intimate partner violence cause immune cell depletion in HIV patients
A study of HIV-positive black and Latino men who have sex with men found that methamphetamine use combined with intimate partner violence stimulated the activity of genes that regulate inflammatory and antiviral functions in the body. The combination can cause depletion of the immune system in people living with HIV, increasing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and other disorders.
Social genomics, which examines how social factors affect genetic activity, has shown that negative social adversity such as discrimination and violence is linked to drug addiction and HIV. Researchers in this study set out to determine whether methamphetamine use, unsuppressed viral load, and intimate partner violence could predict increased inflammation and type I interferon, an activity known to cause depletion of immune cells such as CD4 and CD8, resulting in increased viral replication. .
Researchers recruited 147 HIV-positive black and Latino men who have sex with men in the MSM and substances cohort to UCLA Linking Infections Noting Effects (mSTUDY). MSTUDY examines data from HIV-positive and HIV-negative men in Los Angeles County who have sex with men, primarily of Latin American and black / African American descent. These communities are disproportionately affected by HIV and considered a high priority by prevention research.
The results show that at the molecular level, social challenges and substance use play a role in the immune function of people living with HIV. These factors should be considered together when studying the stress-disease link, although more research is needed to examine it over an extended period of time.
Li, MJ, et al. (2021) Social genomics of methamphetamine use, HIV viral load, and social adversity. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. doi.org/10.1093/abm/kaab096.