Mortality among young injection drug users in San Francisco: a 10-year follow-up of the UFO study.
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This study examined associations between mortality and demographic and risk characteristics among young injection drug users in San Francisco, California, and compared the mortality rate with that of the population. A total of 644 young (<30 years) injection drug users completed a baseline interview and were enrolled in a prospective cohort study, known as the UFO ("U Find Out") Study, from November 1997 to December 2007. Using the National Death Index, the authors identified 38 deaths over 4,167 person-years of follow-up, yielding a mortality rate of 9.1 (95% confidence interval: 6.6, 12.5) per 1,000 person-years. This mortality rate was 10 times that of the general population. The leading causes of death were overdose (57.9%), self-inflicted injury (13.2%), trauma/accidents (10.5%), and injection drug user-related medical conditions (13.1%). Mortality incidence was significantly higher among those who reported injecting heroin most days in the past month (adjusted hazard ratio = 5.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.4, 24.3). The leading cause of death in this group was overdose, and primary use of heroin was the only significant risk factor for death observed in the study. These findings highlight the continued need for public health interventions that address the risk of overdose in this population in order to reduce premature deaths.