Challenges to Providing Integrated HIV Prevention in Substance Use Treatment Settings: Frontline Staff Perspectives on HIV and Sex-Related, Education, Communication and Stigma

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Substance Use & Misuse


Introduction: Substance use treatment settings can play a critical role in ending the HIV epidemic. Community-based methadone clinics are potentially useful sites to offer biomedical HIV prevention, but little is known about how clinicians and other clinic staff communicate with patients about sexual behavior and HIV-related topics.

Methods: Thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted at two methadone clinics in Northern New Jersey. Participants included medical providers (physicians, RNs, DNPs), methadone counselors, intake coordinators, lab technicians, and other auxiliary staff members. Results: Three major themes were identified: (1) HIV education is primarily provided by external organizations, (2) there is limited staff-patient communication around HIV and sexual behaviors, and (3) HIV stigma is prevalent among staff and patients.

Conclusion: To implement PrEP in methadone treatment settings, clinic staff must be able to engage in non-judgmental communication about HIV and sex with patients. Additionally, federal and state funding for HIV prevention in substance use treatment settings must be prioritized to enable clinics to access the necessary training and resources.



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HIV, HIV prevention, methadone, substance use, substance use treatment