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Study shows addicts offered less STD testing at for-profit facilities

Category: HIV

According to a study carried out at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the number of drug treatment programs that offer both HIV and STD testing has fallen. This was driven by the decline of nonprofit and public programs, the researchers

Led by Marcus Bachhuber, M.D., and Chinzao Cunningham, M.D., the team reviewed information gathered by the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, which is conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It is distributed to treatment facility directors and has a very high response rate of more than 95 percent. The scientists analyzed results from 2002 to 2011 for trends in treatment programs and HIV/STD testing.

In 2000, the number of opioid treatment programs in the country was at 849. By 2011, that number had risen to 1,175. Over the study's 12 years, the amount of non-profit facilities decreased from 43 percent to 36 percent, while for-profits rose to 54 percent from 43 percent. Additionally, programs directly run by federal and local governments reduced from 14 percent to 10 percent.

Coinciding with the decline of non-profit drug treatment facilities was a dip in HIV and STD testing. STD tests dropped down to 13 percent and HIV tests slipped to 18 percent. Throughout the study, onsite exams for these diseases did not change much over time with more than 75 percent of facilities offering testing.

The researchers concluded that their results suggest people may face higher risks for late diagnosis and continued passing of disease due to a decrease in beneficial non-profit treatment facilities. Individuals who believe they may have contracted an STD might consider ordering lab tests online to determine their status.

The high costs of drug addiction
Other than the direct complications from drug use involving various forms of opiates, injecting drugs is a well-known way to contract deadly diseases such as HIV and increases the risks of STDs.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the abuse of illicit drugs and other harmful substances costs the U.S. an estimated $600 billion in expenses related to crime and health care. Alcohol is the main contributor however, with nearly $235 billion going towards overall expenditure on substance abuse.

The impact of addiction can be widespread, as it can lead to various health complications such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS.

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