Opioids Spark HIV Outbreak

Heroin siringe exchange

Massachusetts is a sort of epicenter for the Opioid epidemic. Fentanyl and heroin addiction run rampant in the state which is notorious for overdose deaths. Strangely enough, Mass. also has one of the best healthcare platforms in the country and efficiently monitors infectious diseases.

In just two major cities alone, there were 129 new cases of HIV linked to drug use between 2015 and 2018. By comparison, the entire state’s average prior to this time was 41 cases per year.

Most other states don’t have the monitoring ability that Mass. has. The federal government has taken notice of this spike, and there’s general fear this may be the exact trend happening elsewhere and no one else has caught on yet.

Whenever the statistics of a major disease have been dropping for years with regularity, and then reverse, there’s cause for alarm. Given the nature of IV drug use, and the current opioid epidemic, it’s not difficult to imagine why or how this is happening.

This news is causing officials to also investigate HIV testing. What’s being found is with the regular decline in threat we imagined was occurring, testing has gotten very lax. More and more healthcare professionals are doing less and less HIV testing. I’m sure we can all remember the days when any hospital trip came with an offer for HIV testing. That’s not happening as much anymore.

Along with a decreasing the national life expectancy average, increasing the rate of child foster care, and a whole lot of death, the opioid epidemic’s impact has manifested in yet another terrifying statistic. The shocking tragedies just keep on coming.

Yet here we are, and we’ve seen no major overhaul or reform in prescribing guidelines, regulation, or ethics regarding the source of this problem; prescription opioids. There seems to be no responsibility taken. Instead, doctors and pharmaceutical companies are getting let-off the hook after shipping more prescriptions for painkillers than there are people to the state of West Virginia and there’s a host of other laughable “slaps-on-the-wrist” is you really care to take a look at the matter.

Instead, there’s a huge effort to crack down on street drugs and threats of imposing the death penalty on illegal drug dealers. But what about the legal ones?

When are we going to wake up and make a major shift, as a country, in how we manage and regulate drugs and healthcare? How much worse does it have to get?

Addiction could well be described as the continued use of a substance for short-term gratification, despite known negative consequences. The lifestyle of the opiate addict is surely being mirrored on a larger scale and we’re experiencing the repercussions.


Joe Kertis

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Joe has worked at Narconon New Life Retreat for the past seven years, since his relocation to Louisiana. As the Intake Supervisor, he helps families and individuals through a very difficult time and take their first steps to a new, drug-free life. Get in touch with Joe on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.