Epidemiologic studies in the non–human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive population have shown greater health care utilization among persons with chronic non-cancer pain on opioid therapy. However, we are not aware of any similar data in the HIV positive population.
We evaluated health care utilization, as measured by emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations, among persons with HIV and chronic pain seen at an academic medical center, during the calendar year 2005. We compared these outcomes between patients on chronic opioid therapy with those not on opioids.
In univariate models chronic opioid therapy was associated with both ER visits and hospitalization: ER visits odds ratio (OR)=2.18 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.30-3.66), hospitalization OR=1.90 (95% CI, 1.03-3.51). After multivariate analyses only nonsignificant trends remain: ER visits OR=1.71 (95% CI, 0.95-3.08); hospitalization OR=1.28 (95% CI, 0.66-2.49).
In our study HIV positive individuals with chronic pain were more likely to be seen in the ER and be hospitalized if they were on opioids. However, after controlling for other variables, the association with opioids no longer remained significant.