Opioid epidemic is increasing rates of some infectious diseases
The United States faces a converging public health crisis as the nation's opioid epidemic fuels growing rates of certain infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, heart infections, and skin and soft tissue infections. Infectious disease and substance use disorder professionals must work together to stem the mounting public health threat, according to a new commentary. The article was co-authored by officials from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
High-risk injection practices such as needle-sharing are causing a surge in infectious diseases. Additionally, risky sexual behaviors associated with injection drug use have contributed to the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
Infectious disease health professionals can play an important role in addressing the problem by not only treating a patient's injection drug use-associated infection but also connecting the patient for treatment of their underlying OUD, the authors write. Conversely, substance use disorder health providers should screen their patients for unrecognized infectious diseases and consult with their infectious disease colleagues regarding a comprehensive treatment plan. Substance use disorder professionals also should be aware of and direct patients to needle and syringe programs, which can decrease injection risks and provide an opportunity to provide other services as well.
New federal resources made available to address the growing opioid epidemic can assist health professionals in improving and implementing coordinated, evidence-based strategies to prevent and treat OUD and opioid-associated infections.
Journal of infectious disease and dignosis