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AIDS. 2008 Jan 30;22(3):415-20. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3282f423f8.

Recent drug use, homelessness and increased short-term mortality in HIV-infected persons with alcohol problems.

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Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit, USA.



To assess the impact of recent heavy alcohol use, heroin/cocaine use, and homelessness on short-term mortality in HIV-infected persons.


Survival in a longitudinal cohort of 595 HIV-infected persons with alcohol problems was assessed at 6-month intervals in 1996-2005. The time-varying main independent variables were heavy alcohol use (past 30 days), heroin/cocaine use (past 6 months), and homelessness (past 6 months). Date of death was determined using the Social Security Death Index. Outcomes were limited to deaths occurring within 6 months of last assessment to ensure recent assessments of the main independent variables. Cox proportional hazards models were fit to the data.


Death within 6 months of their last assessment occurred in 31 subjects (5.2%). Characteristics at study entry included mean age 41 years, 25% female, 41% African-American, 24% with CD4 cell count < 200 cells/mul; 41% taking antiretroviral therapy, 30% heavy alcohol use, 57% heroin or cocaine use, and 28% homelessness. Heroin or cocaine use [hazard ratio (HR), 2.43; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.12-5.30)] and homelessness (HR, 2.92; 95% CI, 1.32-6.44), but not heavy alcohol use (HR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.23-1.44), were associated with increased mortality in analyses adjusted for age, injection drug use ever, CD4 cell count, and current antiretroviral therapy.


Recent heroin or cocaine use and homelessness are associated with increased short-term mortality in HIV-infected patients with alcohol problems. Optimal management of HIV-infected patients requires regular assessments for drug use and homelessness and improved access to drug treatment and housing.

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