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Using cohort studies to estimate mortality among injecting drug users that is not attributable to AIDS


Background: Injecting drug use (IDU) and associated mortality appear to be increasing in many parts of the world. IDU is an important factor in HIV transmission. In estimating AIDS mortality attributable to IDU, it is important to take account of premature mortality rates from other causes to ensure that AIDS related mortality among injecting drug users (IDUs) is not overestimated. The current review provides estimates of the excess non-AIDS mortality among IDUs.

Method: Searches were conducted with Medline, PsycINFO, and the Web of Science. The authors also searched reference lists of identified papers and an earlier literature review by English et al (1995). Crude mortality rates (CMRs) were derived from data on the number of deaths, period of follow up, and number of participants. In estimating the all-cause mortality, two rates were calculated: one that included all cohort studies identified in the search, and one that only included studies that reported on AIDS deaths in their cohort. This provided lower and upper mortality rates, respectively.

Results: The current paper derived weighted mortality rates based upon cohort studies that included 179 885 participants, 1 219 422 person-years of observation, and 16 593 deaths. The weighted crude AIDS mortality rate from studies that reported AIDS deaths was approximately 0.78% per annum. The median estimated non-AIDS mortality rate was 1.08% per annum.

Conclusions: Illicit drug users have a greatly increased risk of premature death and mortality due to AIDS forms a significant part of that increased risk; it is, however, only part of that risk. Future work needs to examine mortality rates among IDUs in developing countries, and collect data on the relation between HIV and increased mortality due to all causes among this group.

  • BBV, blood borne virus
  • BBVI, blood borne viral infections
  • CMR, crude mortality rates
  • CNS, central nervous system
  • HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy
  • IDU, injecting drug use
  • NSP, needle and syringe programmes
  • injecting drug use
  • mortality
  • AIDS
  • overdose
  • cohort studies

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