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Mt Sinai J Med. 2000 Oct-Nov;67(5-6):444-51.

Causes and rates of death among methadone maintenance patients before and after the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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  • 1New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, 501 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10018-5903, USA.


Causes of death and the mortality rates of active methadone patients and those who had left treatment were compared. Prior to the HIV epidemic, death rates among discharged methadone patients were more than twice that of patients who continued with their methadone treatment. However, the death rate from heroin-related causes in the post-treatment period was 51 times the rate among active patients. Alcohol-related conditions were the leading causes of death in patients more than 30 years old on methadone. During the post-treatment period, alcohol-related deaths were second to those of heroin-related causes. Alcohol-related deaths were particularly pronounced among black patients. Death rates among active male and female patients were identical, but the death rate for discharged female patients was greater than for discharged males. With the onset of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s, AIDS-related causes became the major cause of death in treatment. However, other causes of death, such as alcohol and other medical conditions, identified prior to the AIDS epidemic, persisted. AIDS-related deaths peaked in the mid-1990s and have recently subsided. However, within the past two years, deaths related to HCV have increased to 9% of all patient deaths in a major methadone program. With the emergence of HCV, deaths from this cause are expected to eclipse AIDS-related deaths within the next decade.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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