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Infectious diseases are common among drug users. Throughout the past decade, drug use and the frequency of infectious diseases among this population have escalated. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic and the resurgence of tuberculosis have magnified the need for the prompt recognition and treatment of these and other infectious diseases.
Individuals who are dependent on drugs are represented disproportionately in the population with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS; tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis; syphilis; and hepatitis B and C. Patients who enter drug treatment programs are at risk of having one or more of these diseases. Infectious diseases occur frequently among treatment populations and have significant medical and socioeconomic consequences for infected persons and others if not recognized and treated. In addition, the trained staff of a drug treatment program can screen for and medically manage these diseases.
Using drugs is an important risk factor for disease. Drug use is associated with such risk behaviors as the sharing of contaminated needles and other drug paraphernalia, and unsafe sexual practices that contribute to transmission of certain infectious diseases.
For example, research indicates
Persons enrolled in drug treatment programs are vulnerable to a range of debilitating diseases. Detection and treatment of the following diseases should not be overlooked by treatment providers, although their prevalence will vary by risk behavior and, for some infections, by geographic area:
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