It is well known that the US currently faces an opioid epidemic and according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since 1999 the rate of overdose death related to opioid, including both heroin and prescription drugs, has quadrupled. In addition to the negative health effects the epidemic has also had economic impacts on the health care system with nearly 55 billion dollars being spent a year on health and social cost related to prescription opioid abuse .
For these reasons, geographic information systems (GIS) and special epidemiology have become well known given they allow researchers to use special analysis to plot hot spots of concentrated areas. For example, a study published in the BMC Infectious Disease used GIS and special epidemiology to map out clusters of hepatitis C infection (HCV) in Massachusetts. Given the opioid epidemic is intertwined with HCV infection research like this allows for public heath offices to determine how to better make use and allocated researches to communities that need them.
-By Julia Watson: http://communitymappingforhealthequity.org/
Reference:  “Factsheet: The Opioid Epidemic by the Numbers.” Human Rights Documents Online (n.d.): n. pag. US Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.