Postprison Release HIV-Risk Behaviors in a Randomized Trial of Methadone Treatment for Prisoners


Dr. Wilson, Friends Research Institute, Inc., 1040 Park Avenue, Suite 103, Baltimore, MD 21201. E-mail:


Background: This secondary analysis examined the impact of methadone initiated in prison on postrelease HIV risk behaviors. The parent study was a three-group randomized clinical trial in which participants received drug abuse counseling in prison and were randomly assigned to: (1) passive referral to substance abuse treatment upon release; (2) guaranteed methadone treatment admission upon release; and (3) methadone in prison and guaranteed continuation of methadone upon release.

Methods: Participants were 211 adult males with preincarceration histories of opiate dependence. The AIDS Risk Assessment was administered at baseline (in prison) and at 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month postrelease. Data were analyzed for the entire sample (N = 211) as well as the subsamples who reported injecting drugs in the 30 days prior to incarceration (n = 131) and who reported having unprotected sex in that time frame (n = 144) using generalized linear mixed model on an intent-to-treat basis.

Results: There were no significant changes in sex- or drug-risk by Condition over Time. There were significant Time and Condition main effects for the total sample as well as the injector subsample for drug-risk behaviors. There were no significant Condition main effects for HIV sex-risk behaviors, but there were significant Time main effects.

Conclusions: Methadone initiated in prison or immediately postrelease is associated with reduced HIV drug-risk compared to counseling in prison without methadone and passive referral to treatment at release. Participation in several drug- and sex-risk behaviors also showed significant declines during the postrelease time periods. (Am J Addict 2012;21:476–487)