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RI Hospital study analyzes link between HIV infection and overdose risk
Date:12/12/2011

k is greater, and few studies have endeavored to figure out why this might be happening," Green points out. Biological explanations for the association could include clinical status, immunosuppression, opportunistic infections and poorer physical health in this population, while several studies posit that conditions that affect body's ability to metabolize, like hepatitis C infection, may also increase the risk of overdose. Behavioral factors include high-risk lifestyles and psychiatric comorbidities that might be greater among HIV-infected than HIV-uninfected drug users.

Green further explains that other reasons for the association may include factors such as poor access to medication-assisted therapy to treat opioid dependence, homelessness and poverty, which may contribute to a higher risk of overdose.

Through their research, Green reports that there are ways to reduce the increased risk of overdose among this population. Green comments, "The good news is that we already have several cost-effective overdose prevention tools to call upon. The first is access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) medications, prescribed by providers prepared to prevent and manage potential interactions between antiretrovirals and drugs with abuse potential. The second is medication-assisted therapy, and in particular, methadone and buprenorphine therapies, which have been shown to protect against fatal overdose. The third tool is distribution of Naloxone (Narcan), a prescription medication with no abuse potential that reverses an opioid overdose, to people who are HIV positive and use opiates.

Green adds, "Bringing overdose awareness and prevention into the HIV care setting is critical to reducing overdose deaths. 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 pr
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Contact: Nancy Jean
njean@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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