How does opioid use disorder increase the risk of contracting Hepatitis C and HIV?

Opioid use disorder is associated with a number of co-occurring medical conditions, most notably Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). More than 3 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have long-term Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Most people do not know they are infected. Injection-drug users (IDUs) are at high risk for Hepatitis C Virus. One recent study found that 64.7 percent of IDUs who had been injecting for 1 year or less were already infected with the virus. In fact, injection drug use is the most common way to catch HCV in the United States. One of the most dangerous “side effects” of injecting heroin is the increased risk of being exposed to HIV. Sharing needles, syringes, or other injection equipment may expose drug users to the blood or body fluids of other users who may have HIV. Drug use can also lead to unprotected sexual contact, which can also transmit HIV infection. Using non-injection drugs often does not eliminate the risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS, because people under the influence of drugs still often engage in risky sexual and other behaviors that can lead to exposure to these diseases. One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of contracting HIV and Hepatitis C is by enrolling patients into treatment, specifically being prescribed either methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone. All of these medications have been shown to reduce the risk of contracting these diseases.

Access “Opioid Addiction with Medical Co-Morbidities” at: https://pcssnow.org/resource/opioid-addiction-medical-co-morbidities/

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