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Survey: Alcohol and Meth Use Have Biggest Impact on HIV Viral Suppression

The first report from a national study on the impact of substance use disorders on HIV care determined that alcohol abuse was the major factor among persons with HIV who are not virally suppressed. The study is part of the Substance-Treatment-Strategies for HIV Care (STS4HIV) Project, which is also examining ways to improve the integration of substance use services within HIV settings across the United States.

Findings are in the first report of STS4HIV, released September 2019, and represent the first of three surveys that will be conducted. In this first study, 690 participants from 27 states completed the survey and included a number of AIDS service organization staff and clients, planning council and planning body members, and substance use treatment organization staff and clients.

The charts below show key findings: 

Estimated prevalence among individuals living with HIV who are not virally suppressed chart

Although alcohol use disorder had the highest prevalence estimate, participants rated methamphetamine use disorder as the substance with the highest individual-level and population-level negative impacts.

Population-level negative impact chart

Next Steps

  • The second interactive national survey will identify the treatments that are most promising for addressing the most negatively impactful substance use disorders.
  • The final survey will identify the strategies that are most promising for integrating the most promising treatments.
  • During the project’s last two years, the project’s guiding coalition of stakeholders--who include researchers and national HIV and STD training network faculty--will finalize and nationally disseminate multiple “Substance-Treatment-Strategy (STS) recommendations” that will provide HIV service organizations and their staff with actionable steps to improve integration of substance use services within HIV service settings.
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