Occasional heroin use may be worse for the immune system than continual heroin use, according to a new study.
Many heroin users are infected with H.I.V. Like the virus, the drug suppresses the immune system, so doctors have long assumed that more regular use leads to more rapid immune collapse. Instead, researchers got a surprise when they repeatedly sampled the blood of 77 residents of St. Petersburg, Russia, taken in 2010 as part of a large study of H.I.V.-infected alcoholics.
All appeared to be newly infected, and none were yet on triple-drug therapy. Over the course of the year, those who used heroin only intermittently, meaning they repeatedly went through withdrawal, lost more CD4 blood cells — a measure of immune function — than those who did not use it at all.”
Source: NewYorkTimes.com – December 22, 2014