Jeffrey Samet, MD, MA, MPH, Mentor
Marlene Alcorn, Research Assistant
The Viral Infections and Pain in Substance Users (VIPS) Study at Boston Medical Center will explore the hypotheses that infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is associated with: 1) hypersensitivity to pain under experimental conditions and 2) clinical pain. The study will recruit a cohort of 120 opioid dependent patients on buprenorphine or methadone: 40 HCV+/HIV-, 40 HCV+/HIV+ and 40 HCV-/HIV-controls. Participants will undergo the following experimental testing: 1) the cold-pressor test to assess cold pain tolerance 2) mechanical stimulus to test mechanical pain thresholds and 3) repetitive pinprick to assess for temporal summation. The study will also collect data on pain and pain-related variables using a questionnaire and measure inflammatory cytokines from peripheral blood samples.