Human Immunodeficiency Virus Prevention and the Potential of Drug Abuse Treatment

Metzger, David S.; Navaline, Helen
December 2003
Clinical Infectious Diseases;12/15/2003 Supplement 5, Vol. 37, pS451
Academic Journal
Since first recognition of the scope of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic among the drug-using community, substance abuse treatment has been viewed as playing an important role in preventing new infections. In the past 20 years, many studies have documented significantly lower rates of drug use, drug- related risk behaviors, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections among drug users who remain in treatment programs. There is also growing evidence that drug detoxification alone is insufficient to provide protection from HIV infection. These findings have important implications for users of cocaine and non-injection drugs, as well as heroin injectors. Despite strong evidence of effectiveness and widespread support for the important public health role of drug treatment, its impact has been compromised by limited availability and acceptability. The available data clearly establish drug abuse treatment as HIV prevention, yet without expansion of existing treatment programs and the continued development of treatments for addiction to cocaine and other widely used stimulants, its public health potential cannot be realized.


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