The opioid epidemic in the U.S. is driving a simultaneous epidemic of infectious diseases — including HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and bacterial infections, and sexually transmitted infections — but workforce shortages, stigma, and financial and policy barriers are preventing the integration of opioid use disorder (OUD) and infectious disease services, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report recommends state and federal policy actions, including removing insurance requirements on prescribing medications for OUD (i.e., buprenorphine), expanding access to medications in criminal justice settings, and lifting state bans on syringe service programs.
Methadone clinics, primary care clinics, and jails and prisons see thousands of patients with concurrent OUD and infectious diseases annually, and should be leveraged as integrated care sites, the report says. However, some organizations are unable to provide integrated services because of restrictions on the types of services they can provide. For example, some state Medicaid laws do not allow billing for medical care and behavioral health services on the same day.
Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine