Injecting drug use is a primary driver of HIV epidemics in many countries. People who inject drugs (PWID) and are HIV infected are often doubly stigmatized and many encounter difficulties reducing risk behaviors. Prevention interventions for HIV-infected PWID that provide enhanced support at the individual, family, and community level to facilitate risk-reduction are needed.
455 HIV-infected PWID and 355 of their HIV negative injecting network members living in 32 sub-districts in Thai Nguyen Province were enrolled. We conducted a two-stage randomization: First, sub-districts were randomized to either a community video screening and house-to-house visits or standard of care educational pamphlets. Second, within each sub-district, participants were randomized to receive either enhanced individual level post-test counseling and group support sessions or standard of care HIV testing and counseling. This resulted in four arms: 1) standard of care; 2) community level intervention; 3) individual level intervention; and 4) community plus individual intervention. Follow-up was conducted at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. Primary outcomes were self-reported HIV injecting and sexual risk behaviors. Secondary outcomes included HIV incidence among HIV negative network members.
Fewer participants reported sharing injecting equipment and unprotected sex from baseline to 24 months in all arms (77% to 4% and 24% to 5% respectively). There were no significant differences at the 24-month visit among the 4 arms (Wald = 3.40 (3 df); p = 0.33; Wald = 6.73 (3 df); p = 0.08). There were a total of 4 HIV seroconversions over 24 months with no significant difference between intervention and control arms.
Understanding the mechanisms through which all arms, particularly the control arm, demonstrated both low risk behaviors and low HIV incidence has important implications for policy and prevention programming.