Will mobile clinics offering HIV, substance use care improve outcomes? 5 US cities aim to find out


Five U.S. cities are participating in a clinical trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to test whether mobile clinics offering integrated health services will improve HIV and substance use outcomes among people with opioid use disorder who inject drugs. 

As part of the trial, one-stop mobile clinics in Los Angeles, New York City, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will offer the following: buprenorphine, an opioid use disorder medication; naloxone, an overdose reversal; syringe services where available; HIV testing; antiretroviral therapy for HIV treatment; pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention; testing for hepatitis and STIs; and primary care services. 

Since many community-based agencies are located in hard-to-reach downtown areas, the mobile clinics will be stationed across residential areas determined to be accessible by the underserved participant population, the NIH said in a June 9 news release. 

"Too often, lifesaving addiction treatment and HIV care are administered by a patchwork of health professionals under several different roofs, presenting major access challenges for people who use opioids and other drugs," said Nora Volwok, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "By providing these services through a welcoming one-stop shop, and meeting people where they are, we hope to find a way to more effectively treat people for HIV and substance use disorders." 

The trial aims to enroll 860 participants with opioid use disorder who inject drugs. Participants will be equally divided among two groups: one will receive care through a single mobile clinic and the other will receive care through multiple community based-agencies. Researchers will evaluate and compare a number of health measures in both groups, including use of opioid use disorder medications, and rates of viral suppression among participants with HIV, among others. 

Results from the study are expected in 2025. 

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