NIH Studies “One-Stop” Mobile Clinics for HIV, Substance Use Treatment

Recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced an ongoing clinical trial to determine the efficacy of delivering integrated healthcare services via one-stop mobile health clinics to improve HIV and substance use outcomes among patients who inject opioids and/or other drugs. It is hoped that mobile clinics could serve as an innovative strategy for expanding access to care and uninterrupted treatment to this underserved population that addresses the linked public health crises of addiction and HIV.

The CDC reports that 10% of new HIV transmission in the U.S. are attributed to intravenous drug use, primarily the injection of opioids such as heroin and fentanyl. Substance use and addiction not only weakens the body’s natural immune system; they also can create a disorganizing effect in a person’s life, making it difficult to take daily medication, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV treatment or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

The study, known as INTEGRA, or HPTN 094, is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), both parts of the NIH. INTEGRA is conducted by the NIH-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) at sites in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Nabila El-Bassel, PhD, university professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work, serves as the INTEGRA protocol co-chair. The study team will enroll 860 participants who inject drugs. Equal numbers of participants will be randomly assigned to receive care through either a single mobile clinic or through multiple community-based agencies. The latter group, which reflects the current standard of care, will serve as the control arm of the study.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted access to medical care for so many people. At the same time, the intertwining epidemics of opioid addiction and HIV have continued to take lives. Now is the time to test innovative strategies to connect our most vulnerable populations to effective, integrated care,” said Steven Shoptaw, PhD, INTEGRA protocol chair and director of the Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a press release.


Learn more about HPTN 094/INTEGRA, or “A Vanguard Study of Health Service Delivery in a Mobile Health Delivery Unit to Link Persons who Inject Drugs to Integrated Care and Prevention for Addiction, HIV, HCV and Primary Care,” by visiting https://clinicaltrials.gov/, using study identifier NCT04804072, and www.hptn.org/research/studies/190.

—Reporting by Hank Trout


Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick.