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Gordon KS, Manhapra A, Crystal S, Dziura J, Edelman EJ, Skanderson M, Kerns RD, Justice AC, Tate J, Becker WC. All-cause mortality among males living with and without HIV initiating long-term opioid therapy, and its association with opioid dose, opioid interruption and other factors. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2020 Nov 1; 216:108291.
BACKGROUND: While the relationship between long-term opioid therapy (LTOT) dose and overdose is well-established, LTOT''s association with all-cause mortality is less understood, especially among people living with HIV (PLWH). There is also limited information regarding the association of LTOT cessation or interruption with mortality. METHODS: Among PLWH and matched uninfected male veterans in care, we identified those who initiated LTOT. Using time-updated cox regression, we examined the association between all-cause mortality, unnatural death, and overdose, and opioid use categorized as 1-20 (reference group), 21-50, 51-90, and = 91 mg morphine equivalent daily dose (MEDD). RESULTS: There were 22,996 patients on LTOT, 6,578 (29 %) PLWH and 16,418 (71 %) uninfected. Among 5,222 (23 %) deaths, 12 % were unnatural deaths and 6 % overdoses. MEDD was associated with risk of all 3 outcomes; compared to patients on 1-20 mg MEDD, adjusted risk for all-cause mortality monotonically increased (Hazard Ratios (HR) [95 % CI] for 21-50 mg MEDD = 1.36 [1.21, 1.52], 51-90 mg MEDD = 2.06 [1.82, 2.35], and = 91 mg MEDD = 3.03 [2.71, 3.39]). Similar results were seen in models stratified by HIV. LTOT interruption was also associated with all-cause, unnatural, and overdose mortality (HR [95 % CI] 2.30 [2.09, 2.53], 1.47 [1.13, 1.91] and 1.52 [1.04, 2.23], respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Among PLWH and uninfected patients on LTOT we observed a strong dose-response relationship with all 3 mortality outcomes. Opioid risk mitigation approaches should be expanded to address the potential effects of higher dose on all-cause mortality in addition to unnatural and overdose fatalities.