How does drug addiction treatment help reduce the spread of HIV/ AIDS, Hepatitis C (HCV), and other infectious diseases?

Drug-abusing individuals, including injecting and non-injecting drug users, are at increased risk of HIV, HCV, and other infectious diseases. These diseases are transmitted by sharing contaminated drug injection equipment and by engaging in risky sexual behavior sometimes associated with drug use. Effective drug abuse treatment is HIV/HCV prevention because it reduces associated risk behaviors as well as drug abuse. Counseling that targets a range of HIV/HCV risk behaviors provides an added level of disease prevention.

Drug abuse treatment is HIV and HCV prevention.

Drug injectors who do not enter treatment are up to six times more likely to become infected with HIV than injectors who enter and remain in treatment because the latter reduce activities that can spread disease, such as sharing injection equipment and engaging in unprotected sexual activity. Participation in treatment also presents opportunities for screening, counseling, and referral to additional services, including early HIV treatment and access to HAART. In fact, HIV counseling and testing are key aspects of superior drug abuse treatment programs and should be offered to all individuals entering treatment. Greater availability of inexpensive and unobtrusive rapid HIV tests should increase access to these important aspects of HIV prevention and treatment.

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This page was last updated April 2009