The Lexington addicts, 1971-1972: Demographic characteristics, drug use patterns, and selected infectious disease experience

W. R. Lange, J. C. Ball, M. B. Pfeiffer, F. R. Snyder, E. J. Cone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The demographics, drug habits, and medical complications of a cohort of 1129 addicts treated at Lexington in the period 1971-1972 were studied. These patients, admitted from 41 different states, had a mean period of addiction of 5,4 years. Over one-third of the sample had engaged in pimping of prostitution, and there were no differences by gender in terms of involvement. Eighty-eight percent had shared injection equipment, and surprisingly, 78% admitted to some effort at sterilizing their 'words'. Hepatitis was the most commen associated medical condition: 87% had serologic markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, 60% had evidence of hepatitis A virus (HAV) exposure, and 47% had abnormal liver function parameters. Gynicomastia was evident in 2% of male subjects. Therteen percent of the sample had a reactive VDRL assay, but 64% of these were biologically false positive. Substle abnormalities of immune function were also observed; 18% of the patients had recent unexplained weight loss, 6% had lymphadenopathy, 8% had leukopenia, and 2% ahd lymphocytopenia. We conclude that both HBV and HAVwere important inrectious disease risks in these addicts, and that many evidenced deficiencies in immune function well before AIDS became a major public health concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-626
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of the Addictions
Volume24
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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