The Prevalence and Negative Impacts of Substance Use Disorders among People with HIV in the United States: A Real-Time Delphi Survey of Key Stakeholders

AIDS Behav. 2022 Apr;26(4):1183-1196. doi: 10.1007/s10461-021-03473-9. Epub 2021 Sep 29.


Although HIV and substance use disorders (SUDs) constitute a health syndemic, no research to date has examined the perceived negative impacts of different SUDs for people with HIV (PWH). In May 2019, 643 stakeholders in the U.S., representing clients of AIDS service organizations (ASOs), ASO staff, and HIV/AIDS Planning Council members, participated in an innovative Stakeholder-Engaged Real-Time Delphi (SE-RTD) survey focused on the prevalence and individual-level negative impact of five SUDs for PWH. The SE-RTD method has advantages over conventional survey methods by efficiently sharing information, thereby reducing the likelihood that between-group differences are simply due to lack of information, knowledge, and/or understanding. The population-level negative impacts were calculated by weighting each SUD's individual-level negative impact on indicators of the HIV Care Continuum and other important areas of life by the perceived prevalence of each SUD. Overall, we found these SUDs to have the greatest population-level negative impact scores (possible range 0-24): alcohol use disorder (population-level negative impact = 6.9; perceived prevalence = 41.9%), methamphetamine use disorder (population-level negative impact = 6.5; perceived prevalence = 3.2%), and opioid use disorder (population-level negative impact = 6.4; perceived prevalence = 34.6%). Beyond further demonstration of the need to better integrate SUD services within HIV settings, our findings may help inform how finite funding is allocated for addressing the HIV-SUD syndemic within the U.S. Based on our findings, such future efforts should prioritize the integration of evidence-based treatments that help address use disorders for alcohol, methamphetamine, and opioids.

Keywords: Addiction treatment; HIV; Integrated care; Substance use disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Methamphetamine*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Methamphetamine