When Epidemics Overlap: Opioids, HIV, HCV

October 14, 2019

Nonmedical use of oral prescription opioids overlaps with and fuels widespread HIV and HCV infections and serves as a gateway to other injection drugs.

Nonmedical use of oral prescription opioids in New York City is an epidemic in itself, according to a new study,1 and significantly overlaps with already widespread infection with hepatitis C and HIV. Use of oral opioids may be also be a gateway to use of heroin and other injection drugs--a behavioral sequence that may contribute to further infection transmission. In 2018, NYC started the “eliminate HCV” campaign. But HCV treatment programs may still exclude people who inject drugs, due to concerns over reduced efficacy of direct acting antivirals (DAAs) and risk for reinfection.