Perspectives on the HIV continuum of care among adult opioid users in New York City: A qualitative study

Babak Tofighi, Selena S. Sindhu, Chemi Chemi, Crystal Fuller Lewis, Victoria Vaughan Dickson, Joshua D. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Engagement in the HIV care continuum combined with office-based opioid treatment remains a cornerstone in addressing the intertwined epidemics of opioid use disorder (OUD) and HIV/AIDS. Factors influencing patient engagement with OUD and HIV care are complex and require further study. Methods: In this qualitative study, in-depth interviews were conducted among 23 adult patients who use drugs (PWUD) in an inpatient detoxification program in New York City. The semi-structured interview guide elicited participant experiences with various phases of the HIV care continuum, including factors influencing access to HIV care, interactions with HIV and primary care providers, preferences around integrated care approaches for OUD and HIV, and barriers experienced beyond clinical settings which affected access to HIV care (e.g., insurance issues, transportation, cost, retrieving prescriptions from their pharmacy). Data collection and thematic analysis took place concurrently using an iterative process-based established qualitative research method. Results: Respondents elicited high acceptability for integrated or co-located care for HIV and OUD in primary care. Factors influencing engagement in HIV care included (1) access to rapid point-of-care HIV testing and counseling services, (2) insurance coverage and costs related to HIV testing and receipt of antiretroviral therapy (ART), (3) primary care providers offering HIV care and buprenorphine, (4) illicit ART sales to pharmacies, (5) disruption in supplies of ART following admissions to inpatient detoxification or residential treatment programs, (6) in-person and telephone contact with peer support networks and clinic staff, (7) stigma, and (8) access to administrative support in primary care to facilitate reengagement with care following relapse, behavioral health services, transportation vouchers, and relocation from subsidized housing exposing patients to actively using peers. Conclusion: These findings suggest expanding clinical and administrative support in primary care for PWUDs with patient navigators, case managers, mobile health interventions, and peer support networks to promote linkage and retention in care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number58
JournalHarm Reduction Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Drug users
  • HIV
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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