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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

NYU: Comorbidities, Challenges, and Treatment of Substance Use Among Older People Living with HIV

A new study co-authored by Dr. Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology with New York University College of Global Public Health (NYU GPH), and Dr. Sherry Deren, a colleague from the NYU GPH Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV (human immunodeficiency virus/hepatitis C virus) Research, was published in Frontiers in Public Health titled “Substance Use Among Older People Living with HIV: Challenges for Health Care Providers.”

Older people living with HIV (OPLWH) have higher rates of substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs) than their HIV-negative peers. Addressing health care needs of OPLWH who use substances is more challenging than for those who do not: they are highly impacted by comorbid conditions, substance use can interact with other medications (including antiretroviral therapy-ART) and reduce their effectiveness, and substance use has been associated with reduced adherence to ART and increased risky behaviors (including sexual risks). People who use substances also suffer disparities along the HIV continuum of care, resulting in lower viral suppression rates and poorer health outcomes. They are especially impacted by stigma and stress, which have implications for HIV treatment and care. This article discusses these challenges as well as recommendations for health care providers working with OPLWH who use substances including: (1) the need to screen and refer for multiple associated conditions, and (2) training/continuing education to enhance care management and maximize health outcomes.

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