Objective: To examine predictors and consequences of prescription opioid use among a cohort of women living with HIV (WLWH) and women without HIV from 2000 to 2019. Materials and Methods: The Women's Interagency HIV Study is a multisite, prospective cohort study. Cumulative proportion of visits with prescription opioid use was categorized as follows: minimal (0%-9%), intermediate (10%-39%), and chronic (>40%). Logistic regression examined independent predictors, and proportional hazards regression estimated unadjusted and adjusted hazards of all-cause mortality, comparing intermediate and chronic prescription opioid use with minimal use. Results: Annual prevalence of prescription opioid use significantly increased from 12.6% to 19.3% from 2000 to 2019 (p < 0.0001). Prescription opioid use was minimal in 75%, intermediate in 16%, and chronic in 9% of women. WLWH had 56% higher odds of chronic prescription opioid use compared with women without HIV. Even after adjusting for quality-of-life scores including ratings of pain, women with intermediate and chronic prescription opioid use had greater odds of being sexual minorities (lesbian or bisexual), unemployed, and were more likely to report benzodiazepine and nonprescription substance use compared with those with minimal use. Intermediate and chronic prescription opioid use were each associated with an almost 1.5-fold increased risk of all-cause mortality. Conclusions: Despite federally mandated opioid prescribing guidelines, prescription opioid use and related mortality significantly increased in women experiencing physical and psychosocial vulnerabilities. The higher mortality rate found among prescription opioid users may reflect the many underlying chronic medical and psychosocial conditions for which these opioids were prescribed, as well as complications of opioids themselves. Findings underscore the need for non-opioid and nonpharmacological interventions for chronic pain, particularly in sexual minorities and WLWH. Avoiding concurrent use of opioids with benzodiazepines and nonprescription drugs might reduce mortality.
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