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Offering Methadone Treatment To Drug Users Significantly Reduces HIV Infection, Transmission Risk, Study Shows

Offering methadone treatment to people who use injection drugs “substantially reduces the risk that they will get HIV or give it to anyone else,” according to a BMJ study published this month that pools data from studies done in nine countries, the New York Times reports. “Methadone itself does not affect the virus; scientists believe it works because [drug users] on treatment become better able to stop sharing needles and selling sex for drugs,” the newspaper writes, noting “the risk of catching HIV is one in 125 from a syringe, about one in 122 from anal sex, and less than one in 2,000 from vaginal sex, according to an editorial published with the study.” The newspaper adds, “Many countries, including Russia, have large HIV epidemics among addicts but nonetheless outlaw methadone and buprenorphine treatment for political, religious, or other reasons” (McNeil, 10/15).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.