Methadone and ART Will Help to Reduce HIV Transmission Among PWID

In Bahawalpur, Pakistan, people who inject drugs (PWID) can significantly reduce their risk of HIV infection with the use of opiate substitution treatments (OST) such as methadone or buprenorphine and risk of transmission with antiretroviral therapy (ART). PWID face many issues including poor access to drug treatment to quit drugs. Many PWID living with HIV are unable to access ART. We need these treatments to reduce HIV transmission among PWID and to keep them alive.

In 2012- 2013, we visited five drug hotspots and recruited 50 PWID participants. We examined their drug use, sexual risk behaviour, attitudes and HIV testing experience. Over half (54%) wanted to quit drugs but had no access to treatment. Treatment reduces the level of HIV infection among PWID.

 Methadone and buprenorphine are the main forms of medication prescribed for PWIDs and are known as opiate substitution therapies (OST). Methadone is the medication that is most commonly used for substitution therapy of opioid dependence. Methadone maintenance treatment is also an extensively researched treatment modality. There is strong evidence, from research and monitoring of service delivery, that substitution maintenance therapy with methadone is effective in reducing illicit drug use, mortality, the risk of spreading HIV and crime. It also improves physical and mental health and social functioning. Higher doses of methadone are generally associated with greater reductions in heroin use than either moderate or low doses.

In 2012-2013 we found disturbingly few PWID knew about HIV infection (12%). One reason was the lack of prevention education of HIV. HIV positive persons need access to ART to reduce the transmission among PWID and their spouse/partner and their children.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is most effective treatment for HIV infection. The standard treatment consists of a combination of at least three drugs (often called “highly active antiretroviral therapy” or HAART) that suppress HIV replication. Three drugs are needed in order to reduce the likelihood of the virus developing resistance. ART has the potential both to reduce mortality and morbidity rates among HIV-infected people, and to improve their quality of life.
We call on UNAIDS and UNODC to increase treatment for drug dependence and HIV infection among the PWIDs in Pakistan.

For further information
Please contact.
Zeeshan Ayyaz
Amitiel Welfare Society, Bahawalpur, Pakistan.
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+92 (0) 3136598887
Skype: zeeshanayyaz