Search   |  Advanced

Research Summary

Effect of Buprenorphine/Naloxone Treatment on HIV Risk Behaviors in Opioid-Dependent Youth

Buprenorphine/naloxone (BUP) treatment is an effective component of HIV prevention and has been shown to decrease opioid use in opioid-dependent adolescents, who are at particularly high risk for HIV infection. This analysis compared HIV, drug, and sexual risk behaviors based on gender and treatment condition (12-week BUP treatment versus 2-week BUP detoxification) among opioid-dependent treatment-seeking adolescents enrolled in a multisite randomized clinical trial. Eighty-nine participants were male, and 61 were female; 72% were white, and the median age was 19 years (range, 15–21 years).

  • Fifty-one percent of females and 45% of males reported injection drug use (IDU) at baseline. Of these, 77% of females and 35% of males engaged in injection risk behavior (e.g., using dirty needles, sharing injection equipment, splitting drug solution).
  • Eighty-two percent of females and 74% of males were sexually active at baseline. Of these, 14% of females and 24% of males had multiple partners, and 68% of females and 65% of males reported noncondom use.
  • Although the proportion of those who reported IDU decreased over time (particularly for participants in the 12-week group, and of these, especially among females), injection risk behavior did not change in participants with continued IDU.
  • The proportion of those who reported sexual activity also decreased for both genders and treatment conditions over time, but sexual risk behaviors did not.


In this secondary data analysis, although the rate of IDU and sexual activity decreased among adolescents receiving BUP treatment, HIV-transmission risk behaviors did not. This suggests risk-reduction counseling in addition to BUP treatment may be needed to promote greater decreases in HIV risk. Jeanette M. Tetrault, MD


Meade CS, Weiss RD, Fitzmaurice GM, et al. HIV risk behavior in treatment-seeking opioid-dependent youth: results from a NIDA clinical trials network multisite study. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2010;55(1):65–72.