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Can mobile care prevent more opioid deaths? — study

Posted by 
Marisol Gallagher
Marisol Gallagher
 8 days ago
Marcelo Leal/Unsplash
HOUSTON — A pilot study is underway at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to address two intersecting epidemics, HIV among injecting drug users and opioid addiction.

The research team hopes to learn more about whether providing integrated mobile health care services prevents more overdoses and deaths for opioid use disorder than referrals to pre-existing, single, brick-and-mortar services.

Over 70,000 people died in the United States from drug overdoses in 2017, with opioid use accounting for 68% of those deaths. People who inject drugs are at risk of overdose and HIV transmission and acquisition, but they frequently face multiple barriers to care services, including access to treatment and medications.

For 26 weeks, intervention group participants will receive mobile, integrated health care and peer navigation from medical and recovery experts.

These services include medication and harm reduction services for opioid use disorder; testing for HIV, viral hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted infections (STI); HIV/STI treatment and prevention; and testing and referrals for other health care needs, such as routine vaccinations, viral hepatitis treatment, and other primary care and harm reduction services.

The peer navigation portion of the intervention will be directed by the Houston Emergency Response Opioid Engagement System, or HEROES.

The HEROES program is a collaborative effort led by experts from McGovern Medical School and the School of Biomedical Informatics at UTHealth. It includes medication-assisted recovery to treat opioid dependence and peer support and counseling from a recovery coach.

Following the trial intervention weeks, the program will transition participants to other community-based health care services to meet their health care needs.

The eligible participants of this intervention program are adults aging 18 to 60 with opioid use disorder who inject drugs, are at risk of contracting or are living with HIV, and are willing to begin treatment.