Preventable deaths, including those because of drug overdose (OD), are a significant public health concern in New York City (NYC). Trends in drug OD death among people with HIV (PWH) in NYC have not been described.
We selected PWH from the NYC HIV Registry who died during 2007–2017, resided in NYC at death, and died because of drug OD. We characterized PWH who died of drug OD and analyzed CD4 and viral load tests from surveillance to evaluate retention in care and viral suppression (viral load < 200 cc/mL) in the 12 months before death as markers of care-seeking.
From 2007 to 2017, 870 NYC PWH died of drug OD. Of the total OD deaths, 821 (94.4%) were classified as accidental and 49 (5.6%) as intentional. Although the rate of OD deaths among PWH declined during the full period, from 58.5 per 100,000 in 2007 to 47.9 per 100,000 in 2017, it increased from 2014 (30.9/100,000) to 2016 (53.3/100,000) and stayed high through 2017 (47.9/100,000). Decedents during 2007–2017 were predominantly men (70.8%), Black (38.0%) or Latino/Hispanic (38.7%), aged 40–59 years (73.2%), and had a history of injection drug use (43.0%). Over 3-quarters (80.1%) of decedents were retained in HIV care in the 12 months preceding death; 45.4% were viral suppression.
A sizeable number of PWH died of OD during 2007–2017, and OD death rates in recent years increased. Predeath care patterns reveal frequent interaction with the health care system, underscoring missed opportunities for harm-reduction and suicide prevention interventions for PWH.