Increasing mortality in intravenous (IV) drug users not reported to surveillance as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has occurred in New York City coincident with the AIDS epidemic. From 1981 to 1986, narcotics-related deaths increased on average 32% per year from 492 in 1981 to 1996 in 1986. This increase included deaths from AIDS increasing from 0 to 905 and deaths from other causes, many of which were infectious diseases, increasing from 492 to 1091. Investigations of these deaths suggest a causal association with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. These deaths may represent a spectrum of HIV-related disease that has not been identified through AIDS surveillance and has resulted in a large underestimation of the impact of AIDS on IV drug users and blacks and Hispanics.
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