Fewer Opioid Treatment Programs Offer HIV Testing

Published Online: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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According to a study, fewer opioid treatment programs are offering onsite testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), despite guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending routine HIV testing in all health care settings.

Opioid dependence is a risk factor for HIV, STIs, and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Therefore, the authors of the study (published December 25, 2013, in 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 for-profit, nonprofit, and public programs over time.

The absolute number of programs offering testing for HIV, STIs, 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 STIs 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% in nonprofit programs.

The study suggests that patients in for-profit programs may be at increased risk for delayed diagnosis and continued transmission of HIV, STIs, and HCV.

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