-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- HIV-infected drug users are
74 percent more likely to have an overdose than those without HIV,
a new evidence review finds.
Behavioral and biological factors may be among the reasons for
this increased risk, according to the Rhode Island Hospital
researchers. Drug overdose is a frequent cause of non-AIDS death
among people with HIV.
The link between HIV infection and drug use is well documented,
but the association between HIV and overdose has received less
attention and was the focus of this study, which involved a review
of 24 previous studies.
"Over the past 30 years, we have made impressive strides in caring for and prolonging the lives of people with HIV. Our study found that premature death by overdose is an issue that affects people with HIV disproportionately," study leader Traci Green, a researcher with Rhode Island Hospital and the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research, said in a hospital news release.
"It is not entirely clear why the risk is greater, and few studies have endeavored to figure out why this might be happening," she added.
Biological factors may include clinical status, weakened immune
systems, opportunistic infections and poorer physical health among
HIV-infected drug users. Some research has suggested that hepatitis
C infection and other conditions that affect metabolic ability may
also increase the risk of overdose, according to the release.
Behavioral factors -- such as high-risk lifestyles and an
increased rate of psychiatric conditions -- may also contribute to
the higher risk of overdose among HIV-infected drug users, Green
Other possible factors could include homelessness and poverty,
and poor access to medications and therapy used to treat opioid
dependence, she suggested. Many HIV patients take opioid painkiller
drugs as part of their treatment, while others use illegal
The study appears online in advance of print in the journal
"Bringing overdose awareness and prevention into the HIV care setting is critical to reducing overdose deaths," Green said.
"Health care providers who treat HIV-infected patients with a history of substance abuse or who are taking opioid medications should consider counseling patients on how to reduce their risk of overdose. They may also consider prescribing naloxone (Narcan) to patients, or offering a referral to MAT (medication-assisted therapy) to reduce the risk of overdose," she advised.
Naloxone is a prescription medication that reverses an opioid
overdose and has no abuse potential.
The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about
recreational drugs and HIV.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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