Drug abuse and HIV infection are interlinked. From the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the impact of illicit
drug use on HIV disease progression has been a focus of many investigations. Both laboratory-based and epidemiological
studies strongly indicate that drug abuse may exacerbate HIV disease progression and increase mortality and morbidity in
these patients. Increase susceptibility to opportunistic infection has been implicated as one of the major causes for this
detriment. Furthermore, opioids are known to elicit prevalence of neurodegenerative disorders in HIV-infected patients.
Numerous authors have delineated various molecular as well as cellular mechanisms associated with neurological
complications in these patients. This review gives an overview of these findings. Understanding the mechanisms will
allow for the development of targeted therapies aimed at reducing the progression of neurocognitive decline in the drug
abusing HIV infected individuals.
Keywords: Opioid, HAND, microglia, astrocyte, neuron, TLR, opportunistic infection, CNS, HIV, IDUs.
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