Drug and alcohol dependence 2016 8 21() pii 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.08.014
We sought to explore the experiences of drug users in China who were recently diagnosed with HIV infection while engaged in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) and to better understand their perceptions of MMT, HIV risk, and HIV prevention.
We recruited clients of MMT clinics in Chongqing and Kunming who had a baseline HIV-negative test result upon entry to MMT and had been diagnosed with HIV within the past 12 months. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews and thematic data analysis to identify situations and factors that increased HIV risk.
Among the 27 participants who were interviewed, 15 believed their infection was due to injection drug use, 7 attributed their infection to sexual contact, and 5 were unsure as to how they became infected. High risk behaviors were common; 18 participants continued to use drugs during treatment, and 10 engaged in unprotected sex. Common themes were the difficulty of drug abstinence despite receiving MMT, social pressure to continue using drugs, and low knowledge of effective HIV prevention measures.
While MMT is effective in reducing drug usage and needle sharing, many clients remain at risk of HIV infection due to continued injection drug use and unprotected sex. Clients may benefit from additional counseling on HIV prevention methods as well as structural interventions to increase the availability of clean injection equipment.