Opioid Crisis Results in Spike of HIV Infections

The opioid crisis has generated another public health concern: DPH notified providers last week that it has noticed an increase in HIV infections in people who inject drugs.

From January 1 to November 21, there have been 64 HIV infections reported among individuals who inject drugs in Massachusetts, representing 14% of all HIV infections reported this year, DPH said in a clinical advisory.

Those reports run counter to data from the past 5 to 10 years, where new HIV cases resulting from injectable drug use represented “a stable proportion of 4-8% of all reported HIV infections,” DPH wrote, adding “Investigation of cases is ongoing.”

DPH said the potential for a wider-ranging problem exists, noting a four-month 2015 outbreak in Indiana of 180 new HIV infections caused by one HIV-infected individual introduced into a needle-sharing network.

DPH is asking for increased vigilance among providers, including: remaining alert to the potential for HIV infection and offering HIV testing to anyone reporting injection drug use; following current federal guidelines for HIV testing; and reporting all new cases of HIV to DPH.  Read the DPH Clinical Advisory here for full details.