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Expert panel compares opioid epidemic to early days of HIV epidemic

American College of Physicians

Annals of Internal Medicine Tip Sheet

Below please find a summary of a new article that will be published online in Annals of Internal Medicine. The summaries is not intended to substitute for the full article as a source of information.

Expert panel compares opioid epidemic to early days of HIV epidemic

Panelists recommends 5 steps for treating opioid abuse and its intersecting epidemics

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Experts are drawing on lessons learned from the early days of the HIV epidemic to address the current opioid epidemic. As a result of widespread opioid abuse, new epidemics of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV infection have arisen and hospitalizations for related infections have increased. An expert panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recommends five crucial steps for clinicians treating patients affected by opioid addiction and these intersecting infections. The NASEM workshop proceedings will be published on July 13th and the action steps recommended by three of the planning committee members are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Optimal treatment of new epidemics of HCV, HIV, and other infections is often impeded by untreated opioid use disorder and few health care providers have the resources and expertise to handle these complex cases. As such, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested the NASEM convene a workshop where a panel of experts could outline action steps for addressing the intersecting epidemics of opioid use disorder and its infectious disease consequences.

The experts identified parallels between the current opioid epidemic and the early days of the HIV epidemic. Care of HIV-infected patients benefited greatly from the development of a highly trained interdisciplinary workforce partnering across treatment settings and specialties. With these lessons in mind, the panelists agreed upon five action steps for clinicians. Included in the action steps are recommendations for increasing access to addiction care and funding to states to provide effective medications to treat OUD. The experts also recommend the development of hospital-based protocols to link patients directly to community-based treatment upon discharge from the hospital.


Media contact: For an embargoed PDF, please contact Lauren Evans at To interview the lead author, Sandra Springer, MD, please contact Ziba Kashef at

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