The stubbornly high incidence of new HIV infections belies the overwhelming evidence showing that sustained highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has the power to dramatically reduce the spread of HIV infection and forever change the face of this devastating epidemic. One of the main contributors to this public health paradox is the ongoing HIV epidemic among substance users who contribute significantly to HIV infection rates through injection drug use and high-risk sexual behaviours. Current evidence clearly shows that, in order to fill this gap, we need to integrate substance abuse treatment with HIV treatment programmes and provide substance abusers with universal access to HIV treatment through a focussed effort to seek, test, treat, and retain hard-to-reach high risk individuals. These aims will require structural changes in the health care system to overcome many of the obstacles that have inhibited the merging of substance abuse treatment with HIV programmes for far too long.
Keywords: HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy, HIV prevention, substance use disorders, treatment, opioid addiction, Disease Control and Prevention, opiate replacement therapy, hypothesis
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