Methadone for IV drug addiction reduces HIV infections

published on August 10, 2015 in Medical Research Interviews and News

Dr. Keith Ahamad, a clinician scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and a Family Doctor trained and certified in Addiction Medicine.

He is Division Lead for Addiction Medicine in the department of Family and Community Medicine at Providence Health Care, and is also an addiction physician at the St. Paul’s Addiction Medicine Consult Service, the Immunodeficiency Clinic and Vancouver Detox. He is also Lead Study Clinician for CHOICES, a US National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded clinical trial looking at an opioid receptor blocker (Vivitrol) to treat opioid or alcohol addiction in HIV positive patients.

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Ahamad: Previous methadone research has mostly been done in restrictive settings, such as the USA, where methadone can only be dispensed through restrictive methadone programs and cannot be prescribed through primary care physicians’ offices. Since a systematic review in 2012, randomised controlled trials have compared methadone treatment provided at restrictive specialty clinics with primary care clinics, which have shown the benefits of primary care models of methadone delivery on heroin treatment outcomes, but not on HIV incidence.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?

Dr. Ahamad: After adjusting for factors commonly associated with HIV, methadone remained independently associated in protecting against HIV in this group of injection drug users. Those study participants who were not prescribed methadone at baseline were almost four times more likely to contract HIV during study follow up.

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