Ongoing pain despite aggressive opioid pain management among persons with HIV

Clin J Pain. Mar-Apr 2010;26(3):190-8. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e3181b91624.


Background: Chronic pain is a common problem among persons living with HIV and opioids are frequently used in its treatment. However, data on the variables associated with opioids use and the efficacy of this practice are lacking.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional cohort study of self-reported pain during the year 2005 in our clinic. Patients were grouped into 3 cohorts: those receiving daily opioid therapy for chronic pain (cohort 1, n=115), those with a chronic pain diagnosis but not on daily opioid therapy (cohort 2, n=209), and those without a chronic pain diagnosis (cohort 3, n=796).

Results: In multivariate analysis comparing cohorts 1 and 2, patients in cohort 1 were significantly more likely to be on a benzodiazepine or gamma-aminobutyric receptor agonist [odds ratio (OR)=15.2], have injection drug use as a HIV risk factor (OR=4.27), lack private insurance (OR=3.51), have been abused (OR=3.08), have a history of AIDS (OR=2.21), and be seen more frequently (OR=1.18). Patients in cohort 1 reported significantly more pain [mean pain scores (0 to 10): 4.3 cohort 1; 1.9 cohort 2; 0.7 cohort 3], and were more likely to have pain that was of moderate or greater severity (58.6% cohort 1; 15.5% cohort 2; 4.9% cohort 3).

Conclusions: Psychosocial variables and a history of AIDS were associated with opioid use in our clinic. Persons on opioids continued to experience significantly more pain than other patients in our clinic.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pain / complications*
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Analgesics, Opioid