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May 15, 1972

Laboratory Screening Of Heroin Addicts

Author Affiliations

Wilmington Medical Center Wilmington, Del

JAMA. 1972;220(7):1014. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200070102025

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To the Editor.—  The use of heroin intravenously and other illicit drugs is unfortunately an epidemic disease in our society. Medical problems arise other than those secondary to the pharmacologic effects of the drugs. These are often related to the adjuvants or contaminants, and to the lack of sterile precautions by persons uneducated in, or indifferent to, the rudiments of asepsis.Liv̀er disease is frequent among addicts who share their purloined or improvised mainlining apparatus. The incidence of subclinical hepatitis relative to overt cases is estimated to be in the range of 30 to one. The subclinical or undiagnosed patient, however, is presumably just as infectious as the patient whose hepatitis is symptomatic and, therefore, recognized.The Wilmington Medical Center has had a methadone treatment program since 1968, in which more than 350 heroin addicts have been treated. We have recently had the opportunity to evaluate SMA 12/60 examinations, plus