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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Mar 2023 - 24 Mar 2023


Human Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Mar 22

AIDS Behav


Strategies Used to Manage Chronic Pain in HIV-Disease: Comparing Persons Prescribed Opioids Versus Persons not Receiving Opioids.


Yeh JC, Uebelacker LA, Pinkston MM, Anderson BJ, Busch AM, Abrantes AM, Baker JV, Stein MD


Chronic pain is common in people living with HIV (PLWH), causes substantial disability and is associated with limitations in daily activities. Opioids are commonly prescribed for pain treatment among PLWH, but evidence of sustained efficacy is mixed. There is little information available on how PLWH who have chronic pain use multimodal strategies in pain management. The current cross-sectional study examined background characteristics, self-reported pain, and the use of other pain treatments among 187 PLWH with chronic pain and depressive symptoms who were and were not prescribed opioids. Approximately 20.9% of participants reported using prescription opioids at the time of the study interview. These individuals were significantly more likely to report having engaged in physical therapy or stretching, strengthening or aerobic exercises in the previous 3 months, recent benzodiazepine use, and receiving disability payments. There were no significant differences in pain characteristics (pain-related interference, average pain severity, and worst pain severity) between the two groups. Those not prescribed opioids were more likely to report better concurrent physical functioning and general health, and fewer physical role limitations, but higher depression symptom severity. Our findings suggest that many PLWH with chronic pain and depressive symptoms express high levels of pain with deficits in physical function or quality of life despite their use of opioids. The high rate of co-use of opioids and benzodiazepines (30.8%) is a concern because it may increase risk of overdose. An integrated care approach that includes a variety of effective non-pharmacologic treatment strategies such as physical therapy may be beneficial in reducing the reliance on opioids for pain management.