Opioid Outbreaks

A swell in opioid-related bacterial and viral infections is further compounding the crisis. 

Upticks in HIV, hepatitis and bacterial infections—including antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—are alarming public health officials. Most result from unsanitary injections, but viral diseases like pneumonia are on the rise too with some evidence that opioids may suppress the immune system. 

Tracking diseases is challenging due to a lack of data.

Key to addressing both the crisis and emerging outbreaks will be treating opioid use humanely as a disease. 

“The opioid epidemic is going to be to [young medical students] what HIV was to me,” says researcher Carlos Del Rio. 


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