HAB Partners Confront Opioid Threat

Heather Hauck and Dr. Laura Cheever of the HIV/AIDS Bureau met with leading academic, clinical and research experts earlier this month to discuss the spread of the virus among IV drug users.
Heather Hauck and Dr. Laura Cheever of the HIV/AIDS Bureau met with leading academic, clinical and research experts earlier this month to discuss the spread of the virus among IV drug users. The opioid crisis has been called the most significant threat to HIV control in years.

 

A common adversary:  clockwise from upper left: Gretchen Weiss, National Association of County and City Health Officials, with Jenny Collier of the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition; Twenty organizations and institutions were represented -- including the AIDS Institute and the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care;  Peter Rebeiro, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Stephanie Arnold Pang, National Coalition of STD Directors.
A common adversary: Clockwise from upper left: Gretchen Weiss, National Association of County and City Health Officials, with Jenny Collier of the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition; Twenty organizations and institutions were represented -- including the AIDS Institute and the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care;  Peter Rebeiro, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Stephanie Arnold Pang, National Coalition of STD Directors. In 2016, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention forecasted that an estimated 7 percent of the nation's 3,300 counties may be at risk for concurrent hepatitis and HIV outbreaks due to IV drug use among people addicted to opioids.

 

"It's happening already," said one HAB partner at the February 1 meeting, echoing other attendees who recounted increasing cases of co-infection among opioid users across the country.

The bellwether case of rural Scott County, Ind. -- which experienced  "an explosive spread of HIV in a very short period of time" in 2015 -- established the epidemiological pattern. Most of those infected were injecting prescription opioids – crushed and dissolved -- when they contracted the virus, the CDC reported.

Attending the meeting (left to right) were Nisha Patel of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy;  HAB's Rene Sterling and Steve Young; Bethany Applebaum of the Office of Women's Health, HAB's April Stubbs-Smith; and Carrie Cochran of the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation.
Attending the meeting (left to right) were Nisha Patel of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy;  HAB's Rene Sterling and Steve Young; Bethany Applebaum of the Office of Women's Health, HAB's April Stubbs-Smith; and Carrie Cochran of the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation.

 

Dr. Cheever noted that substance abuse services are allowable within the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program,  where they are available. FORHP's Michael Blodgett added that those services are scant in outlying communities: 60 percent of rural counties have no clinician legally authorized to prescribe buprenorphine, a common office-based opioid treatment.

Date Last Reviewed:  February 2018