Pain Symptoms Associated with Opioid Use among Vulnerable Persons with HIV: An exploratory study with implications for palliative care and opioid abuse prevention

J Palliat Care. 2015;31(4):228-33. doi: 10.1177/082585971503100404.


Current or former injection drug users with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at high risk for pain, which adversely affects their quality of life and may increase their risk for illicit drug use or relapse. We explored associations between pain symptoms and substance use among injection-drug-using study participants with HIV who had histories of heroin use. Using generalized estimating equations and controlling for prior substance use, we found that pain in each six-month period was associated with the use of heroin and prescription opioids, but not the use of nonopioid drugs or alcohol. Routine clinical assessment and improved management of pain symptoms may be needed for persons with HIV and a history of injection drug use, particularly those with chronic pain, for whom there is increased risk for heroin use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Cocaine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity*
  • Heroin Dependence / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Quality of Life
  • Vulnerable Populations*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Cocaine