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Research Article Open Access
Background: With one of the worst HIV prevalence rates in the world, Botswana has made great strides in addressing AIDS. Nevertheless, to fully contain the epidemic, outreach to marginalized groups, including illicit drug users, is critical. Objective: To conduct targeted outreach within an intervention trial to recruit HIV infected drug users and assess HIV disease and nutritional status. Method: Recruitment strategies included safeguarding confidentiality, involving ocal health-care professionals, advertising, and participation incentives. Urine toxicology, CD4 cell count, HIV viral load, blood chemistry, plasma micronutrients, dietary history, drug use and morbidity were assessed for two years. Results: Targeted outreach identified 138 HIV-infected persons who used marijuana; 18.1% had CD4 cell counts ≤ 350 cells/μL and 39.9% had low BMI. Eligible marijuana users (N=52) had significantly lower BMI (21.8 3.7 vs. 24.3 ± 5.3 kg/m2, P=0.001), higher HIV viral load (4.36 ± 0.89 vs. 4.09 ± 0.89 log10, P=0.018), and higher kilocalorie intake (1924 ± 1055 vs. 1620 ± 926 Kcalories, P=0.025) than those who did not use marijuana (N=748) with similar CD4 cell count. Marijuana users ≥ 40 years old had more opportunistic diseases (P=0.020) than non-users of the same age. Benzodiazepine use was detected among 57 participants and they had higher BMI than marijuana users (24.4 ± 6.8 vs. 21.8 ± 3.7 kg/m2, P= 0.017). Conclusion: A population stigmatized by illicit drug use and HIV-infection can be brought into a clinical research setting in Africa. HIV-infected marijuana users were at a risk for higher HIV viral load, lower BMI and more comorbidities than nonusers. Outreach to this marginalized group is important for containing the HIV epidemic.
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Author(s): Marianna K Baum Adriana Campa J Bryan Page Shenghan Lai Lesedi Tsalaile Sabrina Sales Martinez Patricia Burns OrsquoDale Williams Yinghui Li Erik van Widenfelt Herman Bussmann Moyo Sikhulele Joseph Makhema Myron Essex Richard Marlink and Dikotlana Study Team
Marijuana, Benzodiazepines, Botswana, HIV, Recruitment, Nutritional status, HIV disease progression, Drug Addiction, Subtance Abuse Treatment, Cocaine Abuse