Compulsory drug detention exposure is associated with not receiving antiretroviral treatment among people who inject drugs in Bangkok, Thailand: a cross-sectional study

Kanna Hayashi, Lianping Ti, Anchalee Avihingsanon, Karyn Kaplan, Paisan Suwannawong, Evan Wood, Julio S G Montaner, Thomas Kerr
Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2015, 10: 16

BACKGROUND: Thailand has experienced a longstanding epidemic of HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID). However, antiretroviral treatment (ART) coverage among HIV-positive PWID has historically remained low. While ongoing drug law enforcement involving periodic police crackdowns is known to increase the risk of HIV transmission among Thai PWID, the impact of such drug policy approaches on the ART uptake has been understudied. Therefore, we sought to identify factors associated with not receiving ART among HIV-positive PWID in Bangkok, Thailand, with a focus on factors pertaining to drug law enforcement.

METHODS: Data were collected from a community-recruited sample of HIV-positive PWID in Bangkok who participated in the Mitsampan Community Research Project between June 2009 and October 2011. We identified factors associated with not receiving ART at the time of interview using multivariate logistic regression.

RESULTS: In total, 128 HIV-positive PWID participated in this study, with 58 (45.3%) reporting not receiving ART at the time of interview. In multivariate analyses, completing less than secondary education (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 3.32 ; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.48 - 7.45), daily midazolam injection (AOR: 3.22, 95% CI: 1.45 - 7.15) and exposure to compulsory drug detention (AOR: 3.36, 95% CI: 1.01 - 11.21) were independently and positively associated with not receiving ART. Accessing peer-based healthcare information or support services was independently and positively associated with receiving ART (AOR: 0.21, 95% CI: 0.05 - 0.84).

CONCLUSIONS: Approximately half of our study group of HIV-positive PWID reported not receiving ART at the time of interview. Daily midazolam injectors, those with lower education attainment, and individuals who had been in compulsory drug detention were more likely to be non-recipients of ART whereas those who accessed peer-based healthcare-related services were more likely to receive ART. These findings suggest a potentially adverse impact of compulsory drug detention and highlight the need to expand interventions to facilitate access to ART among HIV-positive PWID in this setting.

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