Addressing Barriers to On-site HIV and HCV Testing Services in Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs: Findings from a National Multi-site Qualitative Study

Czarina N. Behrends, Shashi N. Kapadia, Bruce R. Schackman, Jemima A. Frimpong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context
Few substance use disorder (SUD) treatment programs provide on-site human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and/or hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing, despite evidence that these tests are cost-effective.
Objective
To understand how methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) programs that offer on-site HIV/HCV testing have integrated testing services, and the challenges related to offering on-site HIV/HCV testing.
Design
We used the 2014 National Drug Abuse Treatment System Survey to identify outpatient SUD treatment programs that reported offering on-site HIV/HCV testing to 75% or more of their clients. We stratified the sample to identify programs based on combinations of funding source, type of drug treatment offered, and Medicaid-managed care arrangements. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with leadership and staff in 2017-2018 using a directed content analysis approach to identify dominant themes.
Setting
Seven MMT programs located in 6 states in the United States.
Participants
Fifteen leadership and staff from 7 MMT programs with on-site HIV/HCV testing.
Main outcome measure
Themes related to integration of on-site HIV/HCV testing.
Results
Methadone maintenance treatment programs identified 3 domains related to the integration of HIV/HCV testing on-site at MMT programs: (1) payment and billing, (2) internal and external stakeholders, and (3) medical and SUD treatment coordination. Programs identified the absence of state policies that facilitate medical billing and inconsistent grant funding as major barriers. Testing availability was limited by the frequency at which external organizations could provide services on-site, the reliability of those external relationships, and MMT staffing. Poor electronic health record systems and privacy policies that prevent medical information sharing between medical and SUD treatment providers also limited effective care coordination.
Conclusion
Effective and sustainable integration of on-site HIV/HCV testing by MMT programs in the United States will require more consistent funding, improved billing options, technical assistance, electronic health record system enhancement and coordination, and policy changes related to privacy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of public health management and practice : JPHMP
StatePublished - 2020

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