HIV risk reduction in a cohort of injecting drug users in Bangkok, Thailand

Kachit Choopanya, Don C Des Jarlais, Suphak Vanichseni, Philip A Mock, Dwip Kitayaporn, Udomsak Sangkhum, Boonrawd Prasithiphol, Krit Hiranrus, Frits van Griensven, Jordan W Tappero, Timothy D Mastro
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: JAIDS 2003 May 1, 33 (1): 88-95

OBJECTIVE: To determine changes in risk behavior in relation to study participation among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Bangkok, Thailand.

METHODS: During 1995-1996, 1,209 HIV-seronegative IDUs were recruited from Bangkok Metropolitan Administration drug abuse treatment programs to participate in a prospective cohort study. Study visits occurred every 4 months, at which the participants underwent an interview to assess risk behavior and HIV counseling and testing. Eight hundred nine of the IDUs were considered "long-term" participants, who remained in the study through at least the first four scheduled follow-up visits (16 months). Injection risk behavior at each study visit was measured on a four-point scale strongly associated with incident HIV infections in the cohort. Individual regression slopes were used to assess changes in injection risk behavior (risk increase, no change, or risk reduction).

RESULTS: Of the 806 long-term study participants, 79% showed declines, 4% showed no change, and 17% showed increases in injection risk behavior. The percentage of participants in the highest-risk category (injecting daily or more frequently and sharing needles and syringes) declined from 42% at baseline to 3% at the final follow-up visit. Being in methadone maintenance treatment was associated with stable low rates of injection risk behavior, while recruitment from the 45-day detoxification treatment was associated with reductions in injection risk behavior. The risk reduction was independent of decline in risk behavior among IDUs in the community at large.

CONCLUSIONS: Participation in this cohort study was associated with substantial declines in injection risk behavior. This information is important in the evaluation of possible adverse behavioral effects of participation in future preventive HIV vaccine trials including IDUs, particularly in developing country settings.

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