Patterns of drug use and HIV infection among adults in a nationally representative sample

Stephanie Shiau, Stephen M. Arpadi, Michael T. Yin, Silvia S. Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Little is known about drug use patterns among people living with HIV in comparison to an uninfected group in the general population. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between legal and illegal drug use and HIV infection in a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States. Methods Public use data files (2005–2014) from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) were used. Respondents were asked whether a medical professional had ever told them that they had HIV/AIDS. Ever (lifetime), past-year, and past month use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics was assessed. Logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) of the relationship between drug use and HIV infection, adjusting for demographics. Results Of 377,787 respondents age 18 and older, 548 (0.19%) were categorized as HIV-infected. Ever use of cigarettes, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and psychotherapeutics was higher in HIV-infected individuals compared to HIV-uninfected individuals after adjustment for sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, total family income, and marital status. Past year and past month use was also higher for HIV-infected individuals for all substances aside from alcohol. Conclusions In a nationally representative sample, there are higher levels of drug use and DSM-IV dependence among the HIV-infected population compared to the HIV-uninfected population. This is of concern because drug use and dependence can impede engagement in HIV care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Aids
  • Drug use patterns
  • HIV
  • Representative sample

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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