Skip to main content

Syndrome Development to Assess IDU, HIV, and Homelessness in MA Emergency Departments


In Massachusetts, syndromic surveillance (SyS) data have been used to monitor injection drug use and acute opioid overdoses within EDs. Currently, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) SyS captures over 90% of ED visits statewide. These real-time data contain rich free-text and coded clinical and demographic information used to categorize visits for population level public health surveillance. Other surveillance data have shown elevated rates of opioid overdose related ED visits, Emergency Medical Service incidents, and fatalities in Massachusetts from 2014-20171,2,3. Injection of illicitly consumed opioids is associated with an increased risk of infectious diseases, including HIV infection. An investigation of an HIV outbreak among persons reporting IDU identified homelessness as a social determinant for increased risk for HIV infection.

Objective: We sought to measure the burden of emergency department (ED) visits associated with injection drug use (IDU), HIV infection, and homelessness; and the intersection of homelessness with IDU and HIV infection in Massachusetts via syndromic surveillance data.

Submitted by elamb on