The Decade-Long Chinese Methadone Maintenance Therapy Yields Large Population and Economic Benefits for Drug Users in Reducing Harm, HIV and HCV Disease Burden

Lei Zhang, Xia Zou, Yong Xu, Nick Medland, Liwei Deng, Yin Liu, Shu Su, Li Ling

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Objectives: We aimed to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the population impact of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) for its future program planning. Methods: We conducted a literature review of the effects of MMT in China on HIV and HCV disease burden, injecting, and sexual behaviors and drug-related harm during 2004–2015. Data synthesis and analysis were conducted to obtain the pooled estimates of parameters for a mathematical model which was constructed to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the program. Results: Based on a review of 134 articles, this study demonstrated that MMT is highly effective in reducing crime-related, high risk sexual, and injecting behaviors. The model estimated US$1,037 m which was invested in MMT from 2004 to 2015 has prevented 29,463 (15,325–43,600) new HIV infections, 130,563 (91,580–169,546) new HCV infections, 10,783 (10,380–11,187) deaths related to HIV, HCV and drug-related harm, and 338,920.0 (334,596.2–343,243.7) disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). The costs for each prevented HIV infection, HCV infection, death, and DALY were $35,206.8 (33,594.8–36,981.4), $7,944.7 ($7,714.4–8,189.2), $96,193.4 (92,726.0–99,930.2), and $3,060.6 ($3,022.0–3,100.1) respectively. Conclusion: The Chinese MMT program has been effective and cost-effective in reducing injecting, injecting-related risk behaviors and adversities due to HIV/HCV infection and drug-related harm among drug users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number327
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2019


  • economic benefit
  • hepatitis C
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • mathematical model
  • methadone maintenance treatment

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