Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) reduces HIV risk behaviors and improves access to HIV-related services among drug users. In this study, we assessed the uptake and willingness of MMT patients to refer HIV testing and counseling (HTC) service to their sexual partners and relatives.
Health status, HIV-related risk behaviors, and HTC uptake and referrals of 1,016 MMT patients in Hanoi and Nam Dinh were investigated. Willingness to pay (WTP) for HTC was elicited using a contingent valuation technique. Interval and logistic regression models were employed to determine associated factors.
Most of the patients (94.2%) had received HTC, 6.6 times on average. The proportion of respondents willing to refer their partners, their relatives and to be voluntary peer educators was 45.7%, 35.3%, and 33.3%, respectively. Attending MMT integrated with HTC was a facilitative factor for HTC uptake, greater WTP, and volunteering as peer educators. Older age, higher education and income, and HIV positive status were positively related to willingness to refer partners or relatives, while having health problems (mobility, usual care, pain/discomfort) was associated with lower likelihood of referring others or being a volunteer. Over 90% patients were willing to pay an average of US $17.9 for HTC service.
The results highlighted the potential role of MMT patients as referrers to HTC and voluntary peer educators. Integrating HIV testing with MMT services and applying users' fee are potential strategies to mobilize resources and encourage HIV testing among MMT patients and their partners.