Substance use disorders play a major role in the spread of HIV in Ohio. The state’s Department of Health reported on a study that concluded that more than 23,000 Ohio residents were diagnosed with HIV in 2016. These numbers reported a 4 to 1 ratio of male versus female diagnosis, meaning that the male population is far more susceptible to contracting HIV.
A major component of contracting and spreading HIV, among other viral infections, is through the use of objects such as needles, syringes and other tools for injecting substances into the bloodstream. Several forms of substance misuse involve drugs that include the use of needles or syringes for injection. Injectable drugs include some forms of heroin and methamphetamine.
The risk of infection in people experiencing the disease of addiction is higher than those who do not engage in misusing substances due to the nature by which many illicit substances are used. Someone who has a substance use disorder involving an injectable substance will have substantially more interactions with needles and syringes than someone who does not have a substance use disorder.
When a person uses a used needle, the odds of contracting HIV or another dangerous infection increase exponentially. HIV can live on a dirty needle for about 42 days, making the connection between substance addiction and HIV even more likely.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10 percent of new HIV diagnoses are caused by either injection substance misuse or male-to-male sexual contact in conjunction with injection substance misuse.
It is not just sharing needles that leads to HIV. When someone is under the influence of a powerful substance, inhibitions can be lowered and the chances of engaging in risky sexual behavior can increase. This can include not using protection and other preventative measures to avoid contracting HIV. In a state such as Ohio with a high population of people infected with HIV, this can cause the disease to spread more quickly.
Knowledge is power, and Ohio can find ways to break the cycle between addiction and the spread of HIV. Many areas have instituted needle exchange programs. These programs allow access to sterile needles and syringes free to the public. With an ample supply of safe needles, there becomes less of a need for unsafe needles. As a result, the channels by which HIV can spread begin to decline.
The first step to stopping addiction and HIV is to eliminate the need to use dirty needles. The next step is to find out more about professional and accessible addiction treatment close to home in Ohio. If you experience a substance use disorder and could be at risk for contracting HIV, there is confidential help waiting to assist you. Contact The Recovery Village Columbus today to discuss your addiction treatment options.