Neurological, behavioral, and pathophysiological characterization of the co-occurrence of substance use and HIV: A narrative review


Combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) has greatly reduced the severity of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in people living with HIV (PLWH); however, PLWH are more likely than the general population to use drugs and suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs) and to exhibit risky behaviors that promote HIV transmission and other infections. Dopamine-boosting psychostimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine are some of the most widely used substances among PLWH. Chronic use of these substances disrupts brain function, structure, and cognition. PLWH with SUD have poor health outcomes driven by complex interactions between biological, neurocognitive, and social factors. Here we review the effects of comorbid HIV and psychostimulant use disorders by discussing the distinct and common effects of HIV and chronic cocaine and methamphetamine use on behavioral and neurological impairments using evidence from rodent models of HIV-associated neurocognitive impairments (Tat or gp120 protein expression) and clinical studies. We also provide a biopsychosocial perspective by discussing behavioral impairment in differentially impacted social groups and proposing interventions at both patient and population levels.


Vines L, Sotelo D, Giddens N, Manza P, Volkow ND, Wang GJ




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Health services
  • Population(s)
    • People who use drugs
    • General HIV+ population
  • Substance Use
    • Nonmedicinal drugs
  • Mental Health
    • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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