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National Academies to Examine Impact of Opioid Epidemic on Viral Hepatitis, HIV and Other Infectious Diseases

OHAIDP, along with the OWH, are funding a one-and-a-half-day workshop in early 2018 to address the consequences of the opioid epidemic on the spread of infectious disease

There is an epidemic of opioid misuse and dependence in the United States that has led to increases in a number of infectious diseases including hepatitis B and C, endocarditis, and soft tissue infections. From 2010 – 2015 there has been a 300% increase in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections alone and Indiana experienced an outbreak of more than 200 HIV infections.

To address this important concern, last week Dr. Don Wright, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health announced that the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) is providing support to the National Academies of Sciences Engineering, and Medicine that will allow them to convene leading experts to examine the impact of the opioid epidemic on the spread of infectious diseases in the United States. The culmination of this effort will be a public workshop and report. The project is funded collaboratively by two OASH offices: the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) in collaboration with the Office on Women’s Health (OWH).

The workshop, which will take place in early 2018, will explore the infectious disease consequences of the opioid epidemic including: the scope of the problem; impact on viral hepatitis, HIV, endocarditis, soft tissue infections, and other infectious diseases; strategies to reduce infectious diseases related to the opioid epidemic; and the special needs of women. The project will convene key experts and stakeholders from across clinical, behavioral, and public health disciplines from the public and private sectors. The workshop will be open to the public and available to view online.

In addition to documenting the impact that the opioid epidemic is having on the incidence of infectious disease, the workshop will focus on ways to work efficiently within and across existing systems that reach people at increased risk for either opioid use disorder and/or infectious diseases, systems such as public health, medical care, substance use disorder treatment, and law enforcement.  The following topics will be considered in the development of the workshop:

  • How has the opioid epidemic impacted infectious diseases, particularly in states that are hardest hit by the epidemic?
  • What strategies will most effectively prevent and treat infections in people who inject drugs?
  • How can policies and services be implemented efficiently and effectively through existing systems such as public health, medical, substance use disorder treatment, and law enforcement?
  • What novel strategies could be effective? This may include review and analysis of promising European or Canadian programs.
  • What strategies should be implemented if additional funding became available?

This project will be an important step in outlining and addressing the infectious disease consequences of the epidemic of opioid misuse and abuse in the United States. It aligns with the objectives of the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan 2017-2020 and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, both of which set goals of reducing new infections, improving health, and reducing disparities for viral hepatitis and HIV.  

We anticipate that the workshop will take place in the first half of 2018 and that the final report will be available by the end of the year. To get future updates regarding the workshop, please sign up for email updates.

New workshop, w/ @womenshealth, to address #opioidepidemic consequences on infectious disease. https://go.usa.gov/xnT6H


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Public Health and Safety