The United States is experiencing an opioid overdose epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three out of five overdose deaths involve an opioid, either prescription or illicit.
The Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing – led by Sherry Deren, PhD, and Holly Hagan, PhD, MPH, RN – has long been a leader in research to end the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics among drug users. In recent years, the center’s research has increasingly focused on opioid abuse, both in urban and rural settings.
Holly Hagan, PhD, MPH, RN, co-director of CDUHR and professor at NYU Meyers, has been appointed as the chair of the Executive Steering Committee for the National Institutes of Health and CDC’s Rural Opioid Initiative. The initiative, which launched this fall, funds nine projects to help rural U.S. communities develop comprehensive approaches to prevent and treat consequences of opioid injection.
An epidemiologist, Hagan’s research has principally focused on the infectious disease consequences of substance abuse, including trends in HIV and hepatitis C risk behaviors and infection among people who inject drugs and needle/syringe exchanges. She is currently studying why young people transition from prescription opioids to injecting drugs in rural New York.
CDUHR affiliated investigators are leading seven studies related to opioid misuse, prevention, and treatment:
- Text messaging to support buprenorphine treatment: This project, led by NYU Langone’s Babak Tofighi, MD, is developing and conducting preliminary tests of a text messaging intervention to improve adherence to buprenorphine treatment in primary care and patient-provider communication.
- Transitioning from prescription opioid misuse to injection drug use: This study, led by NYU Meyers’ Hagan, is investigating factors associated with young adults progressing to injecting drugs in upstate New York.
- Naltrexone opioid treatment at jail-to-community re-entry: This study, led by NYU Langone’s Joshua Lee, MD, MSc, is seeking to understand the effectiveness of newly FDA-approved extended-release naltrexone for opioid relapse prevention among opioid dependent participants leaving a New York City jail.
- Combined prevention to reduce initiation into injecting drug use: This research, led by Mount Sinai’s Don Des Jarlais, PhD, examines the impact of using multiple interventions to reduce people starting to inject drugs, as combining interventions has been found to be more effective than individual ones. The study takes place in New York City and in Estonia.
- Opioid misuse and overdose risk patterns among recent veterans: Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are at disproportionate risk of prescription opioid misuse and overdose. This project, led by NDRI’s Alex S. Bennett, PhD, tracks opioid-using veterans' substance use patterns alongside other physiological, psychological, and social dimensions, ranging from PTSD, depression, and pain severity to social relationships and employment status. Bennett is also training veterans in overdose prevention and response, providing them with naloxone, and examining naloxone impacts across settings.
- Preventing HCV among young opioid injectors: This randomized controlled trial, led by NDRI’s Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, PhD, and Honoria Guarino, PhD, is assessing the effectiveness of the Staying Safe intervention in reducing injection-related HCV/HIV risk behavior and HCV incidence among young adults who inject heroin and/or prescription opioids.
- Knowledge and perceptions of fentanyl among opioid users and service providers: This study, led by Mount Sinai’s Courtney McKnight, DrPH, explores opioid users’ knowledge of fentanyl and the ways in which they are adjusting to the sharp increase in fentanyl availability and related mortality.
Evidence and Solutions
CDUHR develops and releases implementation briefs that synthesize research on an important topic and provide evidence-based recommendations for policymakers and health practitioners. Two recent briefs and one forthcoming brief focus on facets of the opioid epidemic:
The mission of the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) is to end the HIV and HCV epidemics in drug using populations and their communities by conducting transdisciplinary research and disseminating its findings to inform programmatic, policy, and grass roots initiatives at the local, state, national, and global levels. CDUHR is a Core Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant #P30 DA011041). It is the first center for the socio-behavioral study of substance use and HIV in the United States and is located at the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. For more information, visit www.cduhr.org.
About the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing
NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is a global leader in nursing education, research, and practice. It offers a bachelor of science with a major in nursing, a master of science, post-master’s certificate programs, a doctor of nursing practice degree, and a doctor of philosophy in research theory and development.
About NYU Langone Health
NYU Langone Health is a world-class, patient-centered, integrated academic medical center, known for its excellence in clinical care, research, and education. Included in the 200+ locations throughout the New York area are five inpatient locations: Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute-care facility; Rusk Rehabilitation, ranked as one of the top 10 rehabilitation programs in the country; NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital, a dedicated inpatient orthopedic hospital with all musculoskeletal specialties ranked top 10 in the country; Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone, a comprehensive pediatric hospital supporting a full array of children's health services; and NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn, a full-service teaching hospital and level 1 trauma center located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Also part of NYU Langone Health is the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute–designated cancer center, and NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. For more information, go to nyulangone.org, and interact with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) is a non-profit research and educational organization dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge in the areas of drug and alcohol use, treatment and recovery; HIV, AIDS and HCV; therapeutic communities; youth at risk; and related areas of public health, mental health, criminal justice, urban problems, prevention and epidemiology. For more information, visit www.ndri.org