Drug use among HIV+ adults aged 50 and older: Findings from the GOLD II study

Understanding the nexus of aging, HIV, and substance use is key to providing appropriate services and support for their aging, HIV seropositive patients. The  proportion of PLWHA aged 50 and older is growing due to a variety of factors like decreases in mortality due to highly active retroviral therapy and non-negligible HIV incidence. We describe prevalence of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and participation in substance use treatment and 12-step programs among 95 HIV-positive patients aged 50 and older engaged in care. Most (73.7%) smoked cigarettes in their lifetime and 46.3% were current smokers. Most were at medium (81.1%) or high risk (13.7%) for an alcohol use disorder. With respect to illicit drug use, 48.4% had used marijuana, cocaine, crack, methamphetamines, heroin, and/or prescription opiates without a prescription in the last 12 months; 23.2% met criteria for drug dependence. Marijuana was the most commonly reported illicit drug (32.6%) followed by cocaine and crack (10.5% each), heroin and prescription opiates (7.4% each), and methamphetamines (6.3%). Among those who had not used drugs in the past 12 months, 36.7% had been in a substance use treatment program and 26.5% had participated in a 12-step program in their lifetime; 8.2% were currently in treatment and 16.3% were currently participating in a 12-step program. Among those who had used an illicit drug in the past 12 months, 37.0% had never been in treatment, 34.8% had been in treatment in their lifetime, and 28.3% were currently in treatment. With respect to 12-step programs, 27.3% of those meeting dependence criteria had never participated, 45.5% had participated in their lifetimes, and 27.3% were currently participating. Our findings suggest that older adults in HIV care settings could benefit from Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment interventions and/or integrated services for substance abuse and medical treatment.

Full citation:
Ompad DC, Giobazolia TT, Barton SC, Halkitis SN, Boone CA, Halkitis PN, Kapadia F, Urbina A (2016).
Drug use among HIV+ adults aged 50 and older: Findings from the GOLD II study
AIDS Care, 28 (11), 1373-1377. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2016.1178704. PMCID: PMC5837279.