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Prevention of HIV/AIDS with opioid substitution therapy: An exploratory study among injecting drug users in a tertiary health-care center of Kolkata

Manika Pal, Madhumita Dobe, Asish Mukherjee, Dipendra Narayan Goswami.


Background: Globally maintenance of HIV epidemic has been attributed to unsafe injection practice among the injecting drug users (IDUs). Despite significant achievements in containment of HIV in India among different high-risk groups, IDUs demonstrate high prevalence of HIV. Opioid substitution therapy (OST) is a medical intervention program for opioid dependent IDUs. OST entails replacement of an illicit and euphoric injectable opioid with a medically prescribed and longer acting but less euphoric oral opioid, such as buprenorphine and methadone, creating a steady state without distress of withdrawal and craving.

Objectives: Our study was aimed at exploring the sociodemographic profile, choice of injectable psychoactive substances used, and injecting as well as sex-related high-risk behavior and treatment adherence of IDUs attending the OST center.

Materials and Methods: An observational, cross-sectional study was conducted on 90 IDUs using a structured schedule along with reviewing of hospital records. SPSS version 16 was employed for analysis of data.

Results: The study revealed that nearly 98% of IDUs were males. The majority belonged to lower socioeconomic class and had lower educational level. Nearly, 34% of IDUs had history of sharing needle and 33% had sex-related high-risk behavior at least once in their lifetime. Proportion of HIV infection among IDUs was 15%. Buprenorphine was the most common substance of abuse. At the end of 6 months, the retention rate on OST program was 68%.

Conclusion: The OST center was effectively catering to its IDU clients while achieving good compliance and success of its whole endeavor.

Key words: Injecting Drug User, Opioid Substitution Therapy, HIV Infection

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