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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UNC: Many Opioid Treatment Programs for Women Face Barriers to Providing Reproductive Health Services

New research from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health found that only half of opioid treatment programs provide contraception or other reproductive and sexual health services, such as sexually transmitted infection (STI) or human immunodeficiency (HIV) testing, to reproductive-age women enrolled in their programs.

Dr. Stacey Klaman, a recent graduate of the Gillings School’s Department of Maternal and Child Health, is lead author of “Provision of and Barriers to Integrating Reproductive and Sexual Health Services for Reproductive-age Women in Opioid Treatment Programs,” which was published by the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

The study is one of the first to examine the reproductive and sexual health needs of women with opioid use disorder in North Carolina. Contraceptive use is lower among women with opioid use disorders, and women with this disorder report more unintended pregnancies, which can lead to adverse outcomes for mothers and babies. North Carolina has been significantly impacted by the national opioid epidemic, and women account for nearly half of all opioid use disorder treatment admissions in the state.

In 2017, Dr. Klaman’s team conducted a needs-assessment survey among medical and program directors at opioid treatment programs in the state. Only half of the responding centers reported providing contraception, and fewer than half said they offer HIV or STI testing. Around half of the programs reported providing education on STI prevention and safer sex practices.

Most medical and program directors said that their female patients could benefit from reproductive and sexual health education and services, but the lack of equipment, supplies and trained staff make it difficult to integrate these offerings into their programs.

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