Drug overdoses overtake AIDS
Overdoses of drugs, particularly prescription pain-killers and heroin, have overtaken AIDS to become the leading cause of death of homeless adults, according to a study of homeless residents of Boston.
as main cause of homeless deaths
The finding came from a five-year study of homeless adults who received treatment from the Boston Health Care for the Homeless program. But its broad conclusions apply to homeless populations in many urban parts of the United States, the study's author and homeless advocates said.
"This trend is happening across the country, in non-homeless populations too," said Dr. Travis Baggett of Massachusetts General Hospital. "Homeless people tend to experience in a magnified way the health issues that are going on in the general population."
The study found that of those who died, 17% died of drug overdoses, while 6% died of causes related to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
That is a rough reversal of the trend found in a similar study 15 years earlier, when 6% of deaths were due to drug overdose and 18% due to AIDS.
Homeless people are significantly more likely to die in a given year than their peers in the rest of the population, with those aged 25 to 44 nine times more likely, and those aged 45 to 64 four-and-a-half times more likely to die, the study said.
Read the Reuters report here.