Viral hepatitis, HIV and other outbreaks of infectious diseases fueled by the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States will be the focus of this year’s National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. The event, billed as “the largest annual conference addressing the opioid crisis” will be held April 17 through 20 in Atlanta, according to a recent press release posted on 

The summit (also known as the Hal Rogers conference, after the Kentucky congressman who started the event in 2012) brings professionals from local, state and federal agencies, business, academia, medical and advocacy communities to discuss new solutions for fighting prescription painkiller and heroin abuse across the country. 

This year’s keynote speakers will include U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA and Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives and founding adviser of the national group Advocates for Opioid Recovery. In addition, Richard Wolitski, PhD, will represent the HHS office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy on a panel addressing the planned federal response to preventing HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and other diseases that can be spread through injection drug use. 

The conference comes at a time when the U.S. opioid epidemic is widely recognized as a major public health threat and barrier to national efforts aiming to put an end to new HIV and hepatitis C infections. Organizers have noted that injection drug use has been a primary driver of the 250 percent increase in new HCV cases between 2010 and 2014, recent increases in hep B in a number of states, and a well-documented outbreak of HIV among heroin users in Scott County, Indiana. 

Key topics to be discussed are medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance abuse disorders, HIV and viral hepatitis testing, and linkage to prevention care and treatment services for opioid users across the country. 

Those interested in registering for this year’s National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit can do so on the event’s website. The event’s Facebook and Twitter pages also have more information about what to expect at the conference.