The National Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program
Drug use reemerged in China after the 1978 introduction of sweeping economic change initiated by the “Opening Up and Reform” policy, and the high-risk behavior of drug users was the major driver of China’s early HIV epidemic. To combat both the growing drug use and HIV epidemics, China’s National Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) Program was piloted in 2004 and scaled up starting in 2006. By the end of 2015, the program encompassed 785 full-service clinics, 29 mobile vans, and 325 satellite sites nationwide that were providing MMT services to more than 170,000 regular clients who were former heroin injectors. China’s National MMT Program had become the largest opioid substitution therapy program in the world. This important harm reduction program has successfully reduced illicit drug use, HIV incidence, mortality, and criminal activity, as well as improved quality of life. However, there are still a wide range of challenges and gaps remaining, and further work to strengthen this program will be necessary for HIV to be eliminated in this important key population.
The authors would like to thank Willa Dong and Jennifer M. McGoogan for providing editorial assistance.
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