Two opioid substitution therapies—methadone maintenance therapy and buprenorphine-naloxone treatment—both lower injecting behaviors that put injection drug users (IDUs) at risk for HIV, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, researchers recruited 731 IDUs between May 2006 and October 2009 and then followed them until August 2010.

Under a 2-to-1 randomization scheme, 391 participants received methadone and 340 received buprenorphine. Upon their entry into the study, the participants completed a survey on behaviors that put them at risk for HIV during the previous 30 days. They repeated the survey 12 and 24 weeks later.

Both of the therapies were linked with a drop in frequency of injecting drugs. In addition, fewer participants failed to observe harm reduction techniques when handling drug “works”:  A smaller proportion shared their injection equipment and cookers with others, and more cleaned their equipment with bleach.

In an unexplained quirk, the buprenorphine group increased its rate of injecting methamphetamine, while such use dropped in the methadone group.

Both groups reported a reduction in the number of sexual partners. However, while women's number of sexual partners dropped regardless of which treatment group they were in, the figure for men increased in the buprenorphine group and dropped in the methadone group.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.