POOR SUBSTANCE USE TREATMENT IN VETERANS

Substance use disorder is known to be common but treatment low in adults with HIV. In order to address this issue a large study of US Veterans was done. It included about 53,000 veterans with HIV and a matched comparison group of about 111,000 veterans. Those with health care clinic visits for substance use and information about whether treatment was started and continued were identified in the two groups.

Patients with HIV were slightly more likely to have such a visit than the comparison group (35.7% vs, 34.6%).  Treatment initiation after being seen was less than 17% in both groups. However, patients with HIV were slightly more likely to stay in treatment at 6 months, although pharmacotherapy for opioid and alcohol abuse was uncommon in both groups.

Substance use disorder was confirmed to be common in persons with HIV and treatment low. Because pharmacotherapy has been found to be beneficial with substance use, much more effort in identification and treatment is indicated in both HIV-infected and uninfected veterans.

Kraemer, K., L. et al (2019) Low levels of initiation, engagement, and retention in substance use disorder including pharmacotherapy among HIV-infected and uninfected veterans. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment August – 103, 23- 32.