The opioid epidemic and increasing rates of infectious diseases such as viral hepatitis, STIs, and HIV are correlated public health concerns that call for integrated efforts to effectively utilize time and resources to address both and get people all of the care they need.
The report identifies 9 barriers that have the most significant effect on integrating opioid use disorder (OUD) and infectious disease interventions. Key barriers identified include:
Prior authorization requirements for providers to prescribe buprenorphine to treat OUD that delay treatment and cause people to continue using injection drugs and increasing their risk of acquiring an infectious disease.
Requirement under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) that mandates providers complete a lengthy training before being able to prescribe buprenorphine
Federal funding restrictions that constrain efforts to expand syringe service programs in more locations throughout the U.S.
Same-day billing restrictions that do not allow providers to bill for both clinical and behavioral health interventions on the same day for the same client to reduce the risk of loss to follow up when people have to return for multiple office visits to get care.
Among the 11 recommendations for improvement listed in the report are addressing deficiencies in workforce training to equip personnel to effectively engage and treat people with co-occurring OUD and infectious diseases, reducing stigma in clinical settings, and expanding harm reduction services such as syringe service programs.
The views reflected in this expert column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.