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Br J Gen Pract. 1992 June; 42(359): 232–235.
PMCID: PMC1372058

Problems of drug abuse, HIV and AIDS: the burden of care in one general practice.


Responsibility for many of the problems of intravenous drug abuse and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection lies with community care agencies, such as general practitioners, community psychiatric and district nurses and drug agencies. It is in general practice that this burden is most clearly observed, given that general practitioners are in charge of the day-to-day care of patients. In an attempt to quantify this workload in an inner city practice with 11,200 patients, data were gathered from several sources relating to drug use and HIV infection. The study identified 432 patients who had consulted with problems of drug abuse and/or HIV infection over the period 1981-90. Among this group of patients 161 (37%) were HIV antibody positive. Among 191 drug abusers who were still registered with the practice in 1990 dihydrocodeine was the most commonly prescribed substitute treatment (130 patients) and only nine patients were prescribed methadone. Forty seven per cent of drug users continued to inject drugs occasionally. However, analysis of urine samples revealed that there was a shift away from injecting mainly heroin to multiple drug use, including benzodiazepines, usually originating from prescribed sources. Drug abusers who were HIV positive consulted their general practitioner significantly more often over one year than those who were not (mean 24.9 versus 15.8 consultations, P < 0.01). However, there was no significant difference between these two groups in terms of days spent in hospital. A total of 61 patients were referred to a community psychiatric nurse over an eight month period.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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