Effectiveness of first eight methadone maintenance treatment clinics in China

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Objective:To evaluate the effectiveness of the first phase of eight methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinics in China.Design:Repeated cross-sectional surveys.Methods:Three surveys of clients attending the first phase of eight MMT clinics were carried out at entry, and 6 and 12 months after enrolment. Drug using behaviours, drug-related criminal activity, and relationships with families were compared for the three periods. Blood specimen were collected and tested for HIV for each client at entry, and HIV-negative clients were re-tested after 12 months.Results:A total of 585, 609 and 468 clients participated in the first, second and third surveys, respectively. The proportion of clients who injected drugs reduced from 69.1 to 8.9 and 8.8%, and the frequency of injection in the past month had reduced from 90 times per month to twice per month, employment increased from 22.9 to 43.2 and 40.6%, and self-reported criminal behaviours reduced from 20.7 to 3.6 and 3.8% in the three surveys. By the third survey, 65.8% of clients reported a harmonious relationship with families, an increase from 46.8% at entry, and 95.9% of clients were satisfied with MMT services. Eight HIV seroconversions were found among 1153 clients during 12 months.Conclusion:The study demonstrated that the first phase MMT contributed to a reduction in drug use, drug injecting behaviours, drug-related criminal behaviours, HIV infections, and improved relationships within families among heroin users who participated in the MMT programme. MMT needs to be scaled up nationwide rapidly with improved services.

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