Will Methadone Maintenance Prevent Me from Getting HIV?

If you inject heroin or other opiates, you face a lot of risks, especially if you engage in needle sharing. You may have to deal with bacterial infections, collapsed veins, abscesses, soft-tissue infections, and perhaps most worryingly, infectious diseases, like hepatitis and HIV. In an effort to avoid these consequences, many people enter heroin addiction treatment. If this is something you are considering, you are making a good choice for yourself and for every aspect of your life.

Methadone maintenance treatment is a popular method used to treat heroin addiction and it is linked to many positive outcomes, like:

  • Decrease in lethal overdose
  • Decrease in needle sharing
  • Decrease in drug use
  • Decrease in commercial sex work

It is also linked to a decrease in HIV transmission and infection rates. This may cause you to wonder whether or not methadone can be used to stop you from contracting HIV. The following discussion will answer that question.

If you are ready to enter into treatment or you need to know more about it, call one of our addiction specialists at 800-994-1867Who Answers?. They can answer every question you have clearly and use easy to understand language so the science isn’t confusing. They can also recommend treatment programs that match your needs. Give them a call.

What Is HIV?

Methadone Maintenance

Injecting heroin puts addicts at high risk of getting HIV.

HIV is an acronym that stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The name refers to the fact that the virus weakens the immune system by damaging cells that fight infection and disease. There is currently no cure for HIV, but there are treatments that allow people to manage it.

HIV can only be transmitted from a person with the disease to other through bodily fluid. The most common ways to contract it are through sexual behaviors and the sharing of needles/syringes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV can continue to live in a used needle for as many as 42 days, depending on factors like temperature. HIV can also be passed through rinse water and other equipment you use to prep drugs for injection.

Does Methadone Prevent People from Contracting HIV?

No. It is not a preventative medication. If you enter a methadone maintenance program, that does not mean that you are free to participate in high risk behaviors without contracting HIV. The acts that cause people to get the disease still hold the same risks for a person on methadone that they do for a person who is not taking it. So, be very careful about the activities you engage in, even if you are in medication-assisted treatment.

What Does It Do?

People who are IV drug users face both the risk of shared needles and of sexual activities because drug use tends to translate into riskier sexual practices. Methadone allows people to stop using heroin and that reduces the chances of needle sharing and of risky sex. People on methadone report fewer instances of multiple partners and less commercial sex work, which means less chance of getting HIV.

In a review of 28 studies, which involved 7,900 people, researchers determined a significant reduction in HIV risk behaviors among people using methadone under the care of a doctor. Further, in a study that followed 2 groups of HIV-negative opiate users, the group without treatment saw 22 percent of the 103 experience HIV seroconversion, the period when HIV antibodies develop and are able to be detected (usually a few weeks after infection). Among those who were in methadone maintenance, only 3.5 percent of the 152 people experienced seroconversion.

So, there is an established link between a reduction in HIV transmission and methadone treatment, as mentioned earlier. However, you should not assume that the medication will protect you from getting HIV. You should, however, trust that a medication-assisted treatment program that uses methadone as a component will help you to stop using drugs and participating in activities that are likely to give you HIV.

If you are interested in learning more about methadone or the other components of medication-assisted treatment, call 800-994-1867Who Answers? now. You could be leading a healthy, stable life really soon.

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