Background. About one-third of HIV-infected people in the U.S. have a history of injection drug use (IDU). To examine disparities in health care, we compared health care utilization and morbidity of IDUs and non-IDUs. Methods. A large national cohort of people receiving HIV care was used to compare IDU and non-IDU inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room (ER) visits and other standards of care. We also compared prevalence of HIV-related illnesses. Results. Injection drug users were older and more frequently female, non-White, and publicly insured than non-IDUs. Injection drug users were more than twice as likely to have one or more ER visits annually and almost twice as likely to be hospitalized. CD4 and viral load testing was half as likely to be performed for IDUs in a six-month period. Injection drug users were significantly more likely to have HIV-related morbidity. Conclusions. Health care associated with injection drug use may not be adequately addressed in the outpatient setting. The benefits of broadening the scope of primary HIV care should be examined.


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pp. 675-686
Launched on MUSE
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