Fatal and non-fatal overdose after narcology hospital discharge among Russians living with HIV/AIDS who inject drugs

Int J Drug Policy. 2017 Jan;39:114-120. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.10.022. Epub 2016 Nov 28.


Objectives: Among Russians living with HIV/AIDS who inject drugs, we examined the incidence of fatal and non-fatal overdoses following discharge from a narcology hospital and the associations with more advanced HIV infection.

Design: Prospective cohort study of data collected at baseline, 3 and 6 months from HIV-infected patients with a history of injection drug use who were not treated with anti-retroviral therapy. Participants were recruited between 2012-2014 from a narcology (addiction) hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Methods: Fatal overdose was determined based on contact reports to study staff in the year after discharge. Non-fatal overdose was self-reported at the 3- and 6-month assessments. The main independent variable for HIV severity was CD4 cell count at the baseline interview (<200cells/mm3≥200cells/mm3). Secondary analyses assessed time since HIV diagnosis and treated with anti-retroviral treatment (ART) prior to enrolment as independent variables. We fit Cox proportional hazards models to assess whether HIV severity is associated with either fatal or non-fatal overdose.

Results: Among 349 narcology patients, 18 participants died from overdose within one year after discharge (8.7%, 95% CI 3.4-14.2 by Kaplan-Meier); an estimated 51% [95% CI 34-68%] reported at least one non-fatal overdose within 6 months of discharge. HIV severity, time since HIV diagnosis and ever ART were not significantly associated with either fatal or non-fatal overdose events.

Conclusion: Fatal and non-fatal overdose are common among Russians living with HIV/AIDS who inject drugs after narcology hospital discharge. Overdose prevention interventions are urgently warranted among Russian narcology patients with HIV infection.

Keywords: HIV; Injection drug use; Mortality; Overdose; Russia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Drug Overdose / epidemiology
  • Drug Overdose / mortality*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult