Posted: May 20, 2020 / 7:04 p.m. EDT
Updated: May 20, 2020 / 7:04 p.m. EDT
BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – The drug epidemic was a pressing issue before COVID-19 reached our area, but the issue deserves attention, perhaps even more during the pandemic.
Dr. Zonaira Gul is the infectious disease advisor at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital.
"People who use IV drugs with drug use disorders are particularly affected by this infection," said Dr. Gul.
Former and current drug addicts have weakened the immune system through years of drug abuse. This puts them in the “at risk” category for the virus and they could have more serious symptoms.
"Your lungs are already compromised and COVID-19 infects the lung system," said Gul.
Because doctors' offices and clinics take precautions by not seeing patients, they may not have access to their healthcare providers. They are less likely to seek the help they need.
“There is already a stigma associated with IV drug use as such. These people are less likely to seek medical help if they feel sick, not only because of COVID-19 but also because of other diseases, ”said Gul.
Some doctors offer telemedicine to their patients, but this may not be an option for drug addicts because there is no reliable Internet. For this reason, some providers are trying in other ways to provide them with the help they need.
"It is important for us as a provider to provide these people with care," said Gul.