Kelly's Blog

Morphine helps the brain??? HIV research past the headlines.

Posted in Information, News, Research, treatment on Monday, April 19th, 2010 by Kelly - 1 Comment


I started out to write a blog post about the true impacts of research news on the daily lives of those with HIV/AIDS. Part of what we do at is to review each day what is happening the areas of prevention, treatment, care and research.

But then I came across an article posted in Business Week – – and a few other publications that said, “Morphine May Protect Brains of People With HIV.” I looked a little further and found they studied this because doctors saw that HIV+ heroin users were not developing AIDS-related dementia. Okay, but doesn’t morphine have huge addictive and tolerance problems? Are we telling people to start using morphine or its close relative heroin?

To get past the headline, I looked a little deeper into HIV and heroin. Other research has found that drugs like morphine and heroin suppress the immune system and enhance the inflammatory effects of HIV on brain encephalitis. In other words, they can make you much worse.

You have to read past the headline and find that doctors are saying that a morphine-like substance could be developed that does not have the typical dependency and tolerance issues. They aren’t saying use heroin or morphine to protect your brain. But the headline sure sounded like an endorsement of morphine and no such morphine-like substance now exists.

Research is defined as the “systematic investigation to establish facts.” Individual research projects only look at a very tiny part of the whole HIV puzzle. Many times they present conflicting information that can be very confusing if you are trying to figure out a treatment regimen that works for you.

Most importantly, when we report on and/or hear about new research, we have to remember that impact of most research is years away. Just in the past few months we have heard about the potential importance of bananas, an acne drug, and some common anti-biotics in HIV treatment and prevention. But where does it fit in your treatment today?

We will continue to review and share the latest research findings especially those that hold promise for the future. But it is important to never forget that your treatment today is what impacts your future.

If you have questions about treatment, please check with your medical provider. If you wish to have some additional information about HIV treatment, I recommend some of these great resources that are available from Project Inform:

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One Response to “Morphine helps the brain??? HIV research past the headlines.”

  • Greg says:


    I couldn’t agree more. It is like a being stuck in a revolving door where you go round and round with new findings each week.

    But what makes us better? Thanks for reminding me that it is the present that counts toward my future.

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