Impact of the AIDS epidemic on morbidity and mortality among intravenous drug users in a New York City methadone maintenance program

P. A. Selwyn, D. Hartel, W. Wasserman, E. Drucker

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To examine the impact of the AIDS epidemic on morbidity and mortality in a defined population of intravenous drug users, we analyzed overall and cause-specific death rates, AIDS incidence, and acute medical hospitalizations among patients in a long-term methadone maintenance program in New York City for the years 1984 through 1987 (midyear population for each year 828 to 891; demographic characteristics did not differ). The number of deaths while in treatment increased from 11 (13.3/1000) in 1984 to 39 (44.2/1000) in 1987. Deaths from AIDS increased from 3.6/1000 to 14.7/1000, deaths due to bacterial pneumonia/sepsis from 3.6/1000 to 13.6/1000; deaths from cirrhosis, drug overdose, trauma, and other causes remained relatively stable. AIDS incidence rose from six cases/1000 in 1984 to 20.4 1000 in 1987. Hospitalizations for AIDS, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and endocarditis/sepsis increased from 84.9/1000 in 1986 to 144.8/1000 in 1987. These data suggest that the AIDS epidemic has had a profound effect on patterns of morbidity and mortality among intravenous drug users in this methadone program population. Drug treatment programs may be important sites for targeting clinical services for drug users with AIDS, although the increasing burden of AIDS-related disease will require expansion of existing funding and treatment resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1358-1362
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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