Fewer Opioid Treatment Centers Offering HIV, STI Testing

For-profit centers, which increased in number from 2000 to 2011, saw greatest testing declines

FRIDAY, Dec. 27, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer U.S. opioid treatment programs are offering on-site testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to a research letter published in the Dec. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Marcus A. Bachhuber, M.D., and Chinazo O. Cunningham, M.D., both from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., analyzed data from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services to identify the percentage of opioid treatment programs offering on-site HIV, STI, and hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing from 2000 to 2011.

The researchers found that the number of U.S. opioid treatment programs increased from 849 in 2000 to 1,175 in 2011, with a relative decline of public programs from 14 to 10 percent over the same time period. The absolute number of programs offering testing for HIV, STIs, and HCV increased over the study period, but the percentage offering on-site testing for HIV declined by 18 percent (P < 0.001) and for STIs by 13 percent (P < 0.001). For HCV testing there was no significant change (P = 0.63). The percentage of public programs offering on-site testing for each condition remained steady at more than 75 percent.

"The proportion of U.S. opioid treatment programs offering on-site testing for HIV and STIs declined substantially between 2000 and 2011, despite guidelines recommending routine opt-out HIV testing in all health care settings, including substance abuse treatment facilities," Bachhuber and Cunningham conclude.

One author disclosed financial ties to Pfizer and Quest Diagnostics.

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