Revised March 2019
Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths
In 2017, there were 415 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in Louisiana—an age-adjusted rate of 9.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. This is less than the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The greatest increase in opioid involved overdose deaths was seen in cases involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly fentanyl): a rise from 38 deaths in 2015 to 156 deaths in 2017 (Figure 1). Deaths involving heroin increased significantly over a longer period; from 17 in 2011 to 162 in 2017. Prescription opioid-involved deaths also rose from 70 deaths in 2011 to 168 deaths in 2017.
Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions
In 2017, Louisiana providers wrote 89.5 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons (Figure 2), compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. This was among the top five rates in the United States that year (CDC); however, it was also the lowest rate in the state since data became available in 2006. The age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has not followed this trend, more than doubling from 1.5 deaths in 2011 to 3.6 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. A recent national study revealed a fivefold increase in the incidence of NAS/NOWS between 2004 and 2014, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 cases per 1,000 hospital births. This is the equivalent of one baby born with symptoms of NAS/NOWS every 15 minutes in the United States. During the same period, hospital costs for NAS/NOW births increased from $91 million to $563 million, after adjusting for inflation (Figure 3).
The number of NAS/NOWS cases in Louisiana rose by 50% from 243 cases 2012 to 360 in 2017. St. Tammany, Jefferson and East Baton Rouge Parishes reported the highest number of NAS/NOWS cases, with 45, 32 and 30 cases, respectively (Louisiana Department of Health).
HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)
- U.S. Incidence: In 2016, 9 percent (3,480) of the 39,589 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among new cases, 6.3 percent (2,530) were transmitted via IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU among men, and 2.3 percent (950) were transmitted via IDU among women (CDC).
- U.S. Prevalence: In 2016, 991,447 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection—a rate of 306.6 cases per 100,000 persons. Among males, 19.9 percent (150,4661) contracted HIV from IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU while 21 percent (50,154) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
- State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 1,151 occurred in Louisiana. Among males, 7.3 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 12.1 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU (Figure 4) (AIDSVu).
- State Prevalence: In 2015, an estimated 19,492 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Louisiana—a rate of 504 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 18.3 percent of male cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 18.9 percent were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).
Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use1
- U.S. Incidence: In 2016, there were an estimated 41,200 new cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Among case reports that contain information about IDU, 68.6 percent indicated use of injection drugs (CDC).
- U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 2.4 million Americans are living with HCV based on 2013-2016 annual averages (CDC).
- State Incidence: There were approximately 5 new cases of acute HCV (0.1 per 100,000 persons) reported in Louisiana in 2012-2016 (CDC).
- State Prevalence: In Louisiana, there are an estimated 50,700 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,440 cases per 100,000 persons (HepVu).
- Includes transmission to individuals with injection drug use as a risk factor.
- 2015 estimate after adjusting for under-ascertainment and under-reporting. Data for 2015 were unavailable for Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.
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