Methadone therapy cuts HIV-infection rates: Study

published on August 10, 2015 by The Canadian Press in Global News

VANCOUVER – Increasing access to methadone treatment through primary-care doctors and pharmacies significantly cuts the spread of HIV, according to research involving Vancouver residents addicted to opioids.

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

Methadone treatment prevents withdrawal from opioids such as heroin.

The findings provide critical support for British Columbia’s methadone maintenance program, which is currently being reviewed by the provincial government, the study’s lead author said.

“If you were on medication for your diabetes but you had to travel across your city to get your medication every day from a specialty clinic, and not go to your pharmacy around the corner, you’d be significantly less likely to go,” said Dr. Keith Ahamad, with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

“As a result, the consequences related to your diabetes would be much higher. So what we really need to do is increase access to this medication.”

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