Substance use disorders are common among people living with HIV (PLWHA), and PLWHA with untreated substance use are less likely to receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) or achieve viral suppression when ART is prescribed. Integrated behavioral and medical interventions are one approach used to treat complex chronic illnesses, including HIV and substance abuse. As the potential benefit for integrated HIV-substance abuse treatment is recognized, the number of providers attempting to integrate care is growing. Integrated care models can range from coordinated to co-located to fully integrated models. Providers need a better understanding of these implementation options for HIV-substance abuse treatment and how they impact providers of different disciplines. Between April and November 2006, interviews exploring the process of implementing an integrated HIV-substance abuse intervention were completed with clinic staff at three diverse HIV clinics in North Carolina. Key differences in implementation between sites were found. The degree of integrated care between sites ranged from co-located to integrated, and clinic staff perceived each integrated model to have advantages and disadvantages. Recommendations for implementing HIV-SA integrated care are made.
Co-occurrence of HIV and substance abuse is associated with poor outcomes for HIV-related health and substance use. Integration of substance use and medical care holds promise for HIV patients, yet few integrated treatment models have been reported. Most of the reported models lack data on treatment outcomes in diverse settings. This study examined the substance use outcomes of an integrated treatment model for patients with both HIV and substance use at three different clinics. Sites differed by type and degree of integration, with one integrated academic medical center, one co-located academic medical center, and one co-located community health center. Participants (n=286) received integrated substance use and HIV treatment for 12 months and were interviewed at 6-month intervals. We used linear generalized estimating equation regression analysis to examine changes in ASI alcohol and drug severity scores. To test whether our treatment was differentially effective across sites, we compared a full model including site by timepoint interaction terms to a reduced model including only site fixed effects. Alcohol severity scores decreased significantly at 6 and 12 months. Drug severity scores decreased significantly at 12 months. Once baseline severity variation was incorporated into the model, there was no evidence of variation in alcohol or drug score changes by site. Substance use outcomes did not differ by age, gender, income, or race. This integrated treatment model offers an option for treating diverse patients with HIV and substance use in a variety of clinic settings. Studies with control groups are needed to confirm these findings.