Background: The aim of this study was to characterize human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS)-related knowledge and stigma among methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) patients and evaluate the contribution of an educational lecture in reducing risky behavior and unjustified overprotective behavior due to fear and stigma among MMT patients. Methods: Patients from an MMT clinic within a tertiary medical center were invited to an educational lecture on HIV/AIDS. Seventy participants (of current 330) were chosen by a random sample (December 2015), plus at-risk patients and HIV patients. Attendee compliance and change in scores of questionnaires on knowledge (modified HIV-K-Q-22) and on sexual and injection behaviors were studied. Results: Forty-six patients (65.7% compliance) attended the lecture, and their knowledge and behavior scores improved 2 weeks post-lecture (knowledge: from 14.2 ± 3 to 19.0 ± 2.2 [P < .0005], sexual behavior: from 12.1 ± 2.9 to 8.8 ± 3.0 [P < .0005], and injection behavior: from 7.3 ± 6.2 to 0.2 ± 1.3 [P < .0005]). The unjustified fear of proximity to HIV carriers reported by 50% attendees fell to 35% post-lecture. Eight months post-lecture, the scores on knowledge and risky behavior of 21 randomly chosen attendees were still better than pre-lecture scores (knowledge: 15.4 ± 2.3 vs. 17.2 ± 1.8 [paired t test, P = .001], sexual behavior: 13.2 ± 2.3 vs. 9.7 ± 2.9 [P < .0005], and injection behavior: 9.3 ± 5.6 vs. 2.8 ± 3.1 [P < .0005]). Drug abuse and treatment adherence were not related to intervention and to risky behavior. Conclusions: More knowledge, less fear, and less risky behavior immediately and at 8 months post-lecture reflect the success and importance of the educational intervention. Future efforts are needed in order to reduce ignorance and fear associated with HIV/AIDS.
- methadone maintenance treatment
- opioid addiction
- risky behavior