Characterizing and improving HIV and hepatitis knowledge among primary prescription opioid abusers

Kelly E. Dunn, Kathryn A. Saulsgiver, Mollie E. Patrick, Sarah H. Heil, Stephen T. Higgins, Stacey C. Sigmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: The high rates of HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) infection among opioid abusers is a serious public health problem, and efforts to enhance knowledge regarding risks for HIV/hepatitis infection in this population are important. Abuse of prescription opioids (POs), in particular, has increased substantially in the past decade and is associated with increasing rates of injection drug use and HCV infection. Methods: This study describes the effects of a brief HIV/HCV educational intervention delivered in the context of a larger randomized, double-blind clinical trial evaluating the relative efficacy of 1-, 2-, and 4-week outpatient buprenorphine tapers and subsequent oral naltrexone maintenance for treating PO dependence. HIV- and HCV-related knowledge and risk behaviors were characterized pre- and post-intervention in 54 primary PO abusers. Results: The educational intervention was associated with significant improvements in HIV (p< .001) and HCV (p< .001) knowledge. Significant improvements (p< .001) were observed on all three domains of the HIV questionnaire (i.e., general knowledge, sexual risk behaviors, drug risk behaviors) and on 21 and 11 individual items on the HIV and HCV questionnaires, respectively. Self-reported likelihood of using a condom also increased significantly (p< .05) from pre- to post-intervention. No additional changes in self-reported risk behaviors were observed. Conclusion: These results suggest that a brief, easy-to-administer intervention is associated with substantial gains in HIV and HCV knowledge among PO abusers and represents the necessary first step toward the dissemination of a structured prevention HIV and HCV intervention for PO abusers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-632
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Education
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis C
  • Intervention
  • Noninjection
  • Prescription opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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