The Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University along with the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at the NYU Meyers College of Nursing, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Arkansas, recently hosted the Opioid Epidemic: Crafting and Effective Public Health Response, at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta.
The conference drew a diverse group of investigators from Emory and other institutions, community-based organizations, public health officials, and other government officials to help develop a public health response plan to the opioid epidemic in the southern region.
The Southern US is experiencing an unprecedented epidemic of opioid misuse that is causing dramatic increases in rates of overdoses, hepatitis C, and neonatal abstinence syndrome, and threatening to rekindle HIV transmission among people who use drugs. While the opioid epidemic and related harms are national crises, the South bears a heavier burden of opioid prescriptions than other region; ongoing HIV epidemics among several key populations; and a historically poor public health response to substance misuse (e.g., fewer drug treatment programs, syringe exchange programs, and chronically under-funded departments of health).
Led by Hannah Cooper, ScD, associate professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Emoryâ€™s Rollins School of Public Health, and colleagues at NYU, Vanderbilt, and the University of Arkansas, the conference was designed to:
- create a new regional public health initiative to support ongoing collaborations among investigators at Emory and other institutions, community-based organizations, public health leaders, and other government officials about the opioid epidemic and related harms in the South.
- develop a research and intervention agenda to address substance misuse, overdose, HCV, neonatal abstinence syndrome, HIV, mass incarceration for drug-related offenses, and the over-prescription of opioids for pain relief in the region.
- set the foundations for proposals and papers about related research and interventions in the region.
“We aim to build relationships among key players in public health that will support effective, grounded collaborative research and interventions in the region,” explains Cooper. “As we shed light on the determinants of the opioid epidemic and related harms in the South, we aim to push this agenda forward for effective interventions to save lives in the region.â€