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Identifying, linking, and treating people who inject drugs and were recently infected with HIV in the context of a network-based intervention

Mina Psichogiou, George Giallouros, Katerina Pantavou, Eirini Pavlitina, Martha Papadopoulou, Leslie D Williams, Andria Hadjikou, Eleni Kakalou, Athanasios Skoutelis, Konstantinos Protopapas, Anastasia Antoniadou, George Boulmetis, Dimitrios Paraskevis, Angelos Hatzakis, Samuel R Friedman, Georgios K Nikolopoulos
AIDS Care 2019 April 2, : 1-8
Identifying and linking people to care soon after HIV infection could limit viral transmission and protect their health. This work aims at describing the continuum of care among recently HIV-infected people who inject drugs (PWID) and participated in an intervention in the context of an HIV outbreak in Athens, Greece. The Transmission Reduction Intervention Project (TRIP) conducted risk network-based contact tracing and screened people for recent HIV infection. A comprehensive approach with a case management component that aimed to remove barriers to accessing care was adopted. Follow-up data on antiretroviral treatment (ART) and HIV-RNA levels were obtained from HIV clinics. TRIP enrolled 45 recently HIV-infected PWID (80% male) with a median viral load at recruitment of 5.43 log10 copies/mL. Of the recently infected persons in TRIP, 87% were linked to care; of these, 77% started ART; and of those on ART, 89% achieved viral load <200 copies/mL. TRIP and its public health allies managed to get most of the recently HIV-infected PWID who were identified by the program into care and many of them onto ART. This resulted in very low HIV-RNA levels. Treatment as prevention can work if individuals are aided in overcoming difficulties in entry to, or attrition from care.


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