Entangled epidemics: Cocaine use and HIV disease

E. Paul Larrat, Brown University
Sally Zierler, Brown University


Over the past decade, two epidemics have had a severe impact on public health in this country. These health problems involve cocaine abuse and AJDS (or HIV disease). The processes of these two conditions are clearly not independent of each other and may be quite complex. Understanding of this relationship has been hampered by a myriad of social, biological and behavioral variables that are entangled with the basic cocaine-HIV association. This article presents a paradigm for discussion of the interaction between cocaine exposure and HIV disease based on three mechanisms: The relationship between cocaine exposure and increased opportunity for HIV exposure, the direct role that cocaine plays in altering susceptibility to HIV infection, and the influence that cocaine usc has on the progression of HIV disease. The goal of this structured approach is to enhance conceptual understanding of the cocaine-HIV relationship while recognizing the complexity of the issue and the limitations of current research efforts. This model will serve as a framework for the discussion of implications for future research, clinical practice, and public policy. © 1993 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.