Can Substance Use Treatment Improve HIV Care?

published on September 14, 2022 by Liz Highleyman in POZ Magazine

People who receive opioid substitution therapy to manage drug addiction are more likely to be on antiretroviral treatment and achieve an undetectable HIV viral load, according to study findings published in the journal AIDS.

“These findings are encouraging and support calls for greater integration of OAT [opioid agonist treatment] and HIV services, as well as for interventions to reach people with HIV not on OAT to maximize the clinical and community benefits of antiretroviral therapy,” wrote study authors Stephen Juwono, Eugenia Socías, MD, and colleagues from the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.

HIV is easily transmitted via shared drug injection equipment, and a substantial proportion of people who use drugs are living with HIV. But this population faces barriers that can make it difficult to start and stay on effective antiretroviral therapy and achieve viral suppression, , including unstable schedules, stigma, poverty, homelessness and incarceration…

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