“Emerging evidence suggests the increase in heroin use may be linked to prescription opioid (PO) users who transition from oral and/or intranasal PO use to heroin use, with POs providing the entryway to regular opioid use, and ultimately, heroin injection.
“Despite indications that young PO misusers are at high risk of acquiring HIV and/or HCV through injection and sexual risk behaviors associated with drug use, little research has explored the social pathways by which PO misuse may lead to a heightened risk of infection,” said Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, PhD, principal investigator with New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) and affiliated with the NYC-based National Development Research Institutes (NDRI).
The study, “Injection and Sexual HIV/HCV Risk Behaviors Associated with Nonmedical Use of Prescription Opioids Among Young Adults in New York City, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (JSAT) explores within a social context the drug-use and sexual experiences of young adult (ages 18-32) nonmedical PO users as they relate to risk for HIV and HCV transmission.
“Our results reveal that PO misuse can lead to long-term opioid dependence, as well as transition to heroin use and drug injection,” said Dr. Honoria Guarino, a co-investigator in the study. “In New York City, as in many locations in the U.S., heroin is cheaper and more readily available than POs, especially as new government restrictions on PO access are implemented.”
The researchers note that nonmedical PO use is also associated with risky sexual behavior that may place participants at additional risk for HIV infection by facilitating unprotected sex with casual partners, sexual commodification (i.e., exchanges of sex for drugs between friends or acquaintances, professional sex work), group sex and sexual violence..
Source: New York University -July 31, 2014