Fewer Opioid Treatment Programs Offer HIV Testing

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According to a recent study, fewer opioid treatment programs are offering onsite testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, despite guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that recommend routine HIV testing in all health care settings.

Opioid dependence is a risk factor for HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Therefore, the researchers of the study, published in the December 25, 2013, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, hypothesized that the proportion of opioid treatment programs offering testing for these diseases would have increased after the 2006 CDC recommendations for routine HIV testing. Using data collected by the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services from 2000 to 2011, they calculated the proportion of programs offering testing in forprofit, nonprofit, and public programs over time.

The absolute number of programs offering testing for HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and HCV increased from 2000 to 2011. However, the percentage of programs offering HIV testing decreased significantly, by 18%, and the percentage of those offering testing for sexually transmitted diseases fell by 13% throughout the study. Testing for each infection did not change over time in public programs, but HIV testing dropped by 20% among for-profit programs and 11% among nonprofit programs. The authors suggest that patients enrolled in for-profit programs “may be at an increased risk for delayed transmission and continued transmission of HIV, [sexually transmitted infections], and HCV.”