Representative image.
Representative image.

Scaling up use of life-saving drugs can help combat Ukraine's HIV epidemic, Yale study suggests

ANI | Updated: Jan 05, 2020 13:20 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Jan 5 (ANI): To reduce HIV transmission rates in Ukraine, where the condition is epidemic among people who inject drugs, a new study found that scaling up use of two medications - methadone and buprenorphine - can help fight the disease.
Methadone and buprenorphine are used for treating opioid use disorder known as opioid agonist therapies (OATs)
The study was published in The Lancet.
An alarming death rate prevails in Ukraine due to the HIV infections and the annual new reports of the infection rose from 9,500 in 2010 to 12,000 in 2018, according to the study.
The researchers were on the take that treating at least 20 per cent of people with opioid use disorder who inject drugs -- the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization -- could, over 10 years, prevent more than 10,000 new HIV infections and nearly 18,000 new deaths.
Currently, only 2.7 per cent of people who inject drugs in Ukraine receive OATs, in spite of their proven effectiveness.
Co-author Lynn Madden, Yale postdoctoral associate in internal medicine and head of a foundation said that "Opioid agonist treatments are one of the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder and preventing HIV infections."
Focused on substance use disorders and mental illness, he added, "In addition to treating opioid dependence, it substantially reduces drug use and injection frequency, lowers HIV transmission rates, and prevents death, including death due to overdose," she said.
Senior author Alexei Zelenev, Yale associate research scientist in medicine, said the healthcare system in Ukraine needs modernization, and HIV testing needs to be expanded, as only 56% of the population with HIV are aware of their infected status.
Ukraine faces a difficult financial situation that exacerbates the public health crisis.
The study reveals the importance of scaling up evidence-based treatments to prevent new HIV infections and death. (ANI)