With the identification of HIV-1 as the etiological agent of AIDS, infected people have pursued to varying degrees pharmaceutical treatment to arrest disease progress. This paper evaluates the use of AZT and other antiretroviral agents, as well as access to, and utilization of, medical and social services among intravenous drug users (IDUs) in Miami, Florida. An ongoing prospective study of street-recruited IDUs in Miami-Dade County identified 20 HIV-infected IDUs who had HIV disease (CDC classification IV), and took antiretroviral and other medications after intervention. Participants included 13 active and 7 inactive IDUs. Longitudinal data and in-depth interviews made possible detailed studies of participants during periods when they were taking antiretroviral medications. Those IDUs who are HIV-positive have also received intensive medical and social services. Participants in the study reported nausea, malaise, insomnia, and dysphoria upon initiating AZT therapy. Eleven readily attributed these symptoms to use of antiretroviral medications, primarily AZT. Nevertheless, 9 reported an overall positive impression of the drug's effects; seven despite initial negative reactions to the medication. These results, plus measurement of medication in the blood, indicate that the IDUs studied not only took the antiviral(s), but often were willing to do so in spite of this medication making them feel bad.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases