Evidence suggests methadone and other opiate substitution treatments can significantly cut the risk of HIV infection for people who inject drugs, according to a study by researchers including Professor Louisa Degenhardt from UNSW's National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
The research, published in the British Medical Journal
, looked at nine different studies from around the globe that focused mainly on males aged between 26 and 39. They found that opiate substitution treatments (OST) were associated with a 54 per cent reduction in the risk of HIV infection among people who injected drugs.
Principal investigator, Professor Matthew Hickman from the University of Bristol, says increases in HIV incidence have been reported among people who inject drugs in a number of different countries in recent years.
He says there's now strong evidence demonstrating the association between OST and the reduced risk of HIV transmission.
The study calls for a global scale up of harm reduction interventions in order to reduce the transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs – especially in countries with high rates of HIV.
See the full BMJ media release here