Increasing methadone accessibility cuts HIV transmission: Study

published on August 10, 2015 by Tamsyn Burgmann in CTV News

VANCOUVER – A new study in Vancouver has found that increasing access to methadone for treatment of opioid addiction through primary-care doctors and pharmacies significantly decreases the spread of HIV.

The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet HIV, found injection drug users who were not prescribed methadone were almost four times more likely to become HIV positive.

Study lead Dr. Keith Ahamad, with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, says people who can easily get methadone treatment may be less likely to engage in risky behaviours.

He says British Columbia’s approach to the therapy has resulted in positive outcomes, but there remain barriers to providing treatment as readily across Canada, such as in rural areas.

Ahamad adds that HIV infections are rising in places where methadone treatment is illegal or only prescribed in specialty clinics, such as in Russia and Indiana state.

The observational study surveyed more than 1,600 HIV-negative injection drug users between 1996 and 2013 and found the vast majority of nearly 140 people who became infected over that time were not taking methadone.

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