This study looked at how many, and what types of people who inject drugs (PWID), in the AIDS Care Cohort to evaluate Exposure to Survival Services Study (ACCESS), would be eligible for medical heroin in Vancouver, Canada.
Medical heroin could possibly help people who have treatment resistant opioid use disorder and who live with HIV/AIDS.
How was the study done?
We looked at how many, and what types of PWID in the ACCESS Study would be eligible for medical heroin. Participants had to meet eligibility criteria from clinical trials of medical heroin.
The ACCESS study involves people living with HIV who use illicit drugs, mostly living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Researchers work with participants to look at how social, economic, physical, policy, and individual factors impact the health and well-being of HIV-positive illicit drug users. ACCESS participants do an interviewer-administered survey, and a clinic visit with a study nurse, every 6 months. (text taken from: http://www.bccsu.ca/access/)
What did the study find?
478 participants said they injected opioids. 20% met the eligibility criteria for treatment with medical heroin. Those who were homeless, or were involved in the local illicit drug trade, were more likely to be eligible for medical heroin.
20% met the eligibility criteria for treatment with medical heroin and also said they were homeless and dealt drugs.
Why is the medical heroin useful?
Untreated opioid use disorder among people who live with HIV/AIDS can lead to illnesses, overdose, or death. Medical heroin can play an important role in helping people who have treatment resistant opioid use disorders and who live with HIV/AIDS.
Reference: Klimas, J., Dong, H., Fairbairn, N., Socías, E., Barrios, R., Wood, E., Kerr, T., Montaner, J., Milloy, M. (2018) Eligibility for heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) among people who inject opioids and are living with HIV in a Canadian setting. Addiction Science& Clinical Practice. In Press (https://ascpjournal.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s13722-017-0104-y?site=ascpjournal.biomedcentral.com)