By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com January 23 2003 12:00 AM ET
People infected with HIV who use methamphetamines may dramatically increase their risk of brain damage and neurological complications, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Kentucky, AIDS Weekly reports. The scientists found that combining HIV's Tat protein--which assists in integrating HIV RNA into the DNA in immune system cells--with methamphetamines increased neurological effects in animals, including up to 65% drops in striatal dopamine levels. Similar results were seen in lab tests involving human fetal neurons. Based on their findings, the researchers conclude that HIV-positive people who regularly use methamphetamines could be at a significant risk of developing brain-related AIDS complications.