Cutaneous injection-related infections (CIRI) are a primary reason injection drug users (IDU) access the emergency department (ED).
Using Cox proportional hazard regression, we examined predictors of ED use for CIRI, stratified by sex, among 1083 supervised injection facility (SIF) users.
Over a four-year period, 289 (27%) visited the ED for CIRI, yielding an incidence density for females of 23.8 (95% confidence interval (CI): 19.3 – 29.0) and males of 19.2 per 100 person-years (95% CI: 16.7 – 22.1). Factors associated with ED use for CIRI among females included residing in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] = 2.06 [1.13 – 3.78]) and being referred to hospital by SIF nurses (AHR = 4.48 [2.76 – 7.30]). Among males, requiring assistance with injection (AHR = 1.38 [1.01 – 1.90]), being HIV-positive (AHR = 1.85 [1.34 – 2.55]), and being referred to hospital by SIF nurses (AHR = 2.97 [1.93 – 4.57]) were associated with an increased likelihood of an ED visit for CIRI.
These results suggest SIF nurses have facilitated referral of hospital treatment for CIRI, highlighting the need for continued development of efficient and collaborative efforts to reduce the burden of CIRI.
abscesses; cellulitis; emergency department; epidemiology; gender; health services; injection drug use
Individuals who are homeless or living in marginal conditions have an elevated burden of infection with HIV. Existing research suggests the HIV/AIDS pandemic in resource-rich settings is increasingly concentrated among members of vulnerable and marginalized populations, including homeless/marginally-housed individuals, who have yet to benefit fully from recent advances in highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). We reviewed the scientific evidence investigating the relationships between inferior housing and the health status, HAART access and adherence and HIV treatment outcomes of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA.) Studies indicate being homeless/marginally-housed is common among PLWHA and associated with poorer levels of HAART access and sub-optimal treatment outcomes. Among homeless/marginally-housed PLWHA, determinants of poorer HAART access/adherence or treatment outcomes include depression, illicit drug use and medication insurance status. Future research should consider possible social- and structural-level determinants of HAART access and HV treatment outcomes that have been shown to increase vulnerability to HIV infection among homeless/marginally-housed individuals. As evidence indicates homeless/marginally-housed PLWHA with adequate levels of adherence can benefit from HAART at similar rates to housed PLWHA, and given the individual and community benefits of expanding HAART use, interventions to identify HIV-seropositive homeless/marginally-housed individuals and engage them in HIV care including comprehensive support for HAART adherence are urgently needed.
HIV/AIDS; antiretroviral therapy; homelessness; People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA); adherence; CD4+; plasma; HIV-1; RNA; viral load; highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART); behavior aspects of HIV/AIDS
Although HIV treatment as prevention (TasP) via early antiretroviral therapy (ART) has proven to reduce transmissions among HIV-serodiscordant couples, its full implementation in developing countries remains a challenge. In this study, we determine whether China's current HIV treatment program prevents new HIV infections among discordant couples in rural China.
A prospective, longitudinal cohort study was conducted from June 2009 to March 2011, in rural Yunnan. A total of 1,618 HIV-discordant couples were eligible, 1,101 were enrolled, and 813 were followed for an average of 1.4 person-years (PY). Routine ART was prescribed to HIV-positive spouses according to eligibility (CD4<350 cells/µl). Seroconversion was used to determine HIV incidence.
A total of 17 seroconversions were documented within 1,127 PY of follow-up, for an overall incidence of 1.5 per 100 PY. Epidemiological and genetic evidence confirmed that all 17 seroconverters were infected via marital secondary sexual transmission. Having an ART-experienced HIV-positive partner was associated with a lower rate of seroconvertion compared with having an ART-naïve HIV-positive partner (0.8 per 100 PY vs. 2.4 per 100 PY, HR = 0.34, 95%CI = 0.12–0.97, p = 0.0436). While we found that ART successfully suppressed plasma viral load to <400 copies/ml in the majority of cases (85.0% vs. 19.5%, p<0.0001 at baseline), we did document five seroconversions among ART-experienced subgroup.
ART is associated with a 66% reduction in HIV incidence among discordant couples in our sample, demonstrating the effectiveness of China's HIV treatment program at preventing new infections, and providing support for earlier ART initiation and TasP implementation in this region.
The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) assigned quantitative scores for harm to 20 drugs. We hypothesized that a personalized, ISCD-based Composite Harm Score (CHS) would be associated with poor health outcomes in polysubstance users.
A prospective community sample (n=293) of adults living in marginal housing was assessed for substance use. The CHS was calculated based on the ISCD index, and the personal substance use characteristics over four weeks. Regression models estimated the association between CHS and physical, psychological, and social health outcomes.
Polysubstance use was pervasive (95.8%), as was multimorbid illness (median 3, possible range 0–12). The median CHS was 2845 (interquartile range 1865–3977). Adjusting for age and sex, every 1000-unit CHS increase was associated with greater mortality (odds ratio [OR] 1.47, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–2.01, p = 0.02), and persistent hepatitis C infection (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.02–1.67, p = 0.04). The likelihood of substance-induced psychosis increased 1.39-fold (95% CI 1.13–1.67, p = 0.001). The amount spent on drugs increased 1.51-fold (1.40–1.62, p < 0.001) and the odds of having committed a crime increased 1.74-fold (1.46–2.10, p < 0.001). Multimorbid illness increased 1.43-fold (95% CI 1.26–1.63, p < 0.001).
Greater CHS predicts poorer physical, psychological, and social health, and may be a useful quantitative, personalized measure of risk for drug-related harm.
Crack cocaine pipe sharing is associated with various health-related harms, including hepatitis C transmission. Although difficulty accessing crack pipes has been found to predict pipe sharing, little is known about the factors that limit pipe access in settings where pipes are provided at no cost, albeit in limited capacity. Therefore, we investigated crack pipe access among people who use drugs in Vancouver, Canada.
Data was collected through two Canadian prospective cohort studies. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) with logit link for binary outcomes was used to identify factors associated with difficulty accessing crack pipes.
Among 914 participants who reported using crack cocaine, 33% reported difficulty accessing crack pipes. In multivariate analyses, factors independently associated with difficulty accessing crack pipes included: sex work involvement (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.57; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03 – 2.39), having shared a crack pipe (AOR = 1.69; 95%CI: 1.32 – 2.16), police presence where one buys/uses drugs (AOR = 1.47; 95%CI: 1.10 – 1.95), difficulty accessing services (AOR = 1.74; 95%CI: 1.31 – 2.32), and health problems associated with crack use (AOR = 1.37; 95%CI: 1.04 – 1.79). Reasons given for difficulty accessing pipes included sources being closed (48.2%) and no one around selling pipes (18.1%).
A substantial proportion of people who smoke crack cocaine report difficulty accessing crack pipes in a setting where pipes are available at no cost but in limited quantity. These findings indicate the need for enhanced efforts to distribute crack pipes and address barriers to pipe access.
harm reduction; crack smoking; crack pipe access; Vancouver
Adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) among injection drug users (IDU) is often sub-optimal, yet little is known about changes in patterns of adherence since the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy in 1996. We sought to assess levels of optimal adherence to ART among IDU in a setting of free and universal HIV care.
Data was collected through a prospective cohort study of HIV-positive IDU in Vancouver, British Columbia. We calculated the proportion of individuals achieving at least 95% adherence in the year following initiation of ART from 1996 to 2009.
Among 682 individuals who initiated ART, the median age was 37 (31–44) years with 248 (36.4%) female participants. The proportion achieving at least 95% adherence increased over time from 19.3% in 1996 to 65.9% in 2009 (Cochrane-Armitage test for trend: p < 0.001). In a logistic regression model examining factors associated with 95% adherence, initiation year was statistically significant (Odds Ratio = 1.08, 95% Confidence Interval: 1.03–1.13, p < 0.001 per year after 1996) after adjustment for a range of drug use variables and other potential confounders.
The proportion of IDU achieving at least 95% adherence during the first year of ART has consistently increased over a 13-year period. Although improved tolerability and convenience of modern ART regimens likely explain these positive trends, by the end of the study period a substantial proportion of IDU still had sub-optimal adherence demonstrating the need for additional adherence support strategies.
This study examined whether childhood sexual abuse predicts initiation of injection drug use in a prospective cohort of youth.
From October 2005 to November 2010, data were collected from the At Risk Youth Study (ARYS), a prospective cohort study of street-involved youth in Vancouver, Canada. Inclusion criteria were age 14-26 years, no lifetime drug injection, and non-injection drug use in the month preceding enrollment. Participants were interviewed at baseline and semiannually thereafter. Cox regression was employed to identify risk factors for initiating injection.
Among 395 injection-naïve youth, 81 (20.5%) reported childhood sexual abuse. During a median follow-up of 15.9 months (total follow-up 606.6 person-years), 45 (11.4%) youth initiated injection drug use, resulting in an incidence density of 7.4 per 100 person-years. In univariate analyses, childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased risk of initiating injection (unadjusted hazard ratio [HR], 2.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29–4.38; p=0.006), an effect that persisted in multivariate analysis despite adjustment for gender, age, Aboriginal ancestry and recent non-injection drug use (adjusted HR, 2.71; 95% CI, 1.42–5.20; p=0.003).
Childhood sexual abuse places drug users at risk for initiating injection. Addiction treatment programs should incorporate services for survivors of childhood maltreatment.
child abuse; sexual; drug abuse; adolescent; cohort studies
HIV leads to CD4:CD8 ratio inversion as immune dysregulation progresses. We examined the predictors of CD4:CD8 normalization after combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and determined whether normalization is associated with reduced progression to AIDS-defining illnesses (ADI) and death.
A Canadian cohort of HIV-positive adults with CD4:CD8<1.2 prior to starting cART from 2000–2010 were analyzed. Predictors of (1) reaching a CD4:CD8 ≥1.2 on two separate follow-up visits >30 days apart, and (2) ADI and death from all causes were assessed using adjusted proportional hazards models.
4206 patients were studied for a median of 2.77 years and 306 (7.2%) normalized their CD4:CD8 ratio. Factors associated with achieving a normal CD4:CD8 ratio were: baseline CD4+ T-cells >350 cells/mm3, baseline CD8+ T-cells <500 cells/mm3, time-updated HIV RNA suppression, and not reporting sex with other men as a risk factor. There were 213 ADIs and 214 deaths in 13476 person-years of follow-up. Achieving a normal CD4:CD8 ratio was not associated with time to ADI/death.
In our study, few individuals normalized their CD4:CD8 ratios within the first few years of initiating modern cART. This large study showed no additional short-term predictive value of the CD4:CD8 ratio for clinical outcomes after accounting for other risk factors including age and HIV RNA.
Among 559 street youth recruited between 2005 and 2007 in Vancouver, Canada, young drug users (<21years of age) were compared with older drug users (≥21 years) with regard to recent drug use and sexual practices using multiple logistic regression. Older youth were more likely to be male and of Aboriginal ancestry, to have more significant depressive symptoms, to have recently engaged in crack smoking, and to have had a recent history of injection drug use. Young drug users, by contrast, were more likely to have engaged in recent binge alcohol use. Efforts to reduce drug use-related harm among street youth may be improved by considering the highly prevalent use of “harder” drugs and risk for depression among older youth.
street youth; adolescents; injection; drug use; sex; HIV/AIDS
The objective of this study was to examine supervised injecting facility (SIF) use among a cohort of 395 HIV-positive injection drug users (IDUs) in Vancouver, Canada. The correlates of SIF use were identified using generalized estimating equation analyses. In multivariate analyses, frequent SIF use was associated with homelessness (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.90), daily heroin injection (AOR = 1.56), and daily cocaine injection (AOR = 1.59). The reasons given for not using the SIF included a preference for injecting at home and already having a safe place to inject. The SIF services most commonly used were needle exchange and nursing services. The SIF appears to have attracted a high-risk subpopulation of HIV-positive IDUs; this coverage perhaps could be extended with the addition of HIV- specific services such as disease monitoring and the provision of antiretroviral therapy.
Employment is commonly upheld as an important outcome of addiction treatment. To explore this attribution we assessed whether treatment enrolment predicts employment initiation among participants enrolled in a community-recruited Canadian cohort of people who inject drugs (IDU) (n=1579). Survival analysis initially found no association between addiction treatment enrolment and employment initiation. However, when methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) was separated from other treatment modalities, non-MMT treatment positively predicted employment transitions, while MMT was negatively associated with employment initiation. Sub-analyses examining transitions into temporary, informal and under-the-table income generation echo these results. Findings suggest that individual factors impacting employment transitions may systematically apply to MMT clients, and that, in this setting, the impact of treatment on employment outcomes is contingent on treatment type and design. Treatment-specific differences underscore the need to expand low-threshold MMT, explore MMT alternatives and evaluate the impact of treatment design on the social and economic activity of IDU.
employment; addiction treatment; methadone maintenance therapy; Vancouver; injection drug use
Objective. Antiretroviral drug selection in resource-limited settings is often dictated by strict protocols as part of a public health strategy. The objective of this retrospective study was to examine if the HIV-TRePS online treatment prediction tool could help reduce treatment failure and drug costs in such settings. Methods. The HIV-TRePS computational models were used to predict the probability of response to therapy for 206 cases of treatment change following failure in India. The models were used to identify alternative locally available 3-drug regimens, which were predicted to be effective. The costs of these regimens were compared to those actually used in the clinic. Results. The models predicted the responses to treatment of the cases with an accuracy of 0.64. The models identified alternative drug regimens that were predicted to result in improved virological response and lower costs than those used in the clinic in 85% of the cases. The average annual cost saving was $364 USD per year (41%). Conclusions. Computational models that do not require a genotype can predict and potentially avoid treatment failure and may reduce therapy costs. The use of such a system to guide therapeutic decision-making could confer health economic benefits in resource-limited settings.
Current drug-control strategies in Canada focus funding and resources predominantly on drug law enforcement, often at the expense of preventive, treatment, and harm reduction efforts. This study aimed to examine the availability of the most commonly used substances in Vancouver, Canada after the implementation of such strategies.
Using data from two large cohorts of drug-using youth and adults in Vancouver from the calendar year 2007, we assessed perceived availability of heroin, crack, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and marijuana.
Compared to youth (n = 330), a greater proportion of adults (n = 1160) reported immediate access (i.e., within ten minutes) to heroin (81.0% vs. 55.9%, p < 0.001), crack (90.4% vs. 69.3%, p < 0.001) and cocaine (83.7% vs. 61.1%, p < 0.001). Conversely, larger proportions of youth reported immediate access to crystal methamphetamine (62.8% vs. 39.4%, p < 0.001) and marijuana (88.4% vs. 73.2%, p < 0.001) compared to adult users.
Regardless of differences in illicit drug availability by age, all drugs are readily accessed in Vancouver despite drug law enforcement efforts. This includes drugs that are frequently injected and place users at risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and transmission of other blood-borne disease.
Illegal drug use continues to be a major threat to community health and safety. We used international drug surveillance databases to assess the relationship between multiple long-term estimates of illegal drug price and purity.
We systematically searched for longitudinal measures of illegal drug supply indicators to assess the long-term impact of enforcement-based supply reduction interventions.
Data from identified illegal drug surveillance systems were analysed using an a priori defined protocol in which we sought to present annual estimates beginning in 1990. Data were then subjected to trend analyses.
Main outcome measures
Data were obtained from government surveillance systems assessing price, purity and/or seizure quantities of illegal drugs; systems with at least 10 years of longitudinal data assessing price, purity/potency or seizures were included.
We identified seven regional/international metasurveillance systems with longitudinal measures of price or purity/potency that met eligibility criteria. In the USA, the average inflation-adjusted and purity-adjusted prices of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased by 81%, 80% and 86%, respectively, between 1990 and 2007, whereas average purity increased by 60%, 11% and 161%, respectively. Similar trends were observed in Europe, where during the same period the average inflation-adjusted price of opiates and cocaine decreased by 74% and 51%, respectively. In Australia, the average inflation-adjusted price of cocaine decreased 14%, while the inflation-adjusted price of heroin and cannabis both decreased 49% between 2000 and 2010. During this time, seizures of these drugs in major production regions and major domestic markets generally increased.
With few exceptions and despite increasing investments in enforcement-based supply reduction efforts aimed at disrupting global drug supply, illegal drug prices have generally decreased while drug purity has generally increased since 1990. These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing.
AUDIT; PUBLIC HEALTH
Food insecurity is increasingly recognized as a barrier to optimal treatment outcomes but there is little data on this issue. We assessed associations between food insecurity and mortality in HIV-infected antiretroviral therapy (ART)-treated individuals in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), and whether body max index (BMI) modified associations.
Individuals were recruited from the BC HIV/AIDS drug treatment program in 1998 and 1999, and were followed until June 2007 for outcomes. Food insecurity was measured with the Radimer/Cornell questionnaire. Cox proportional hazard models were used to determine associations between food insecurity, BMI and non-accidental deaths when controlling for confounders.
Among 1119 participants, 536 (48%) were categorized as food insecure and 160 (14%) were categorized as underweight (BMI <18.5). After a median follow-up time of 8.2 years, 153 individuals (14%) had died from non-accidental deaths. After controlling for adherence, CD4 counts, and socioeconomic variables, people who were food insecure and underweight were nearly two times more likely to die (Adjusted hazard ratio [AHR]=1.94, 95% Confidence interval [CI]=1.10-3.40) compared with people who were not food insecure or underweight. There was also a trend towards increased risk of mortality among people who were food insecure and not underweight (AHR= 1.40, 95% CI=0.91-2.05). In contrast, people who were underweight but food secure were not more likely to die.
Food insecurity is a risk factor for mortality among ART-treated individuals in BC, particularly among individuals who are underweight. Innovative approaches to address food insecurity should be incorporated into HIV treatment programs.
Food insecurity; HIV/AIDS; mortality; Vancouver
Drug law enforcement remains the dominant response to drug-related harm. However, the impact of incarceration on deterring drug use remains under-evaluated. We sought to explore the relationship between incarceration and patterns of drug use among people who inject drugs (IDU).
Using generalized estimating equations (GEE), we examined the prevalence and correlates of injection cessation among participants in the Vancouver Injection Drug User Study followed over 9 years. In subanalyses, we used McNemar's tests and linear growth curve analyses to assess changes in drug use patterns before and after a period of incarceration among participants reporting incarceration and those not incarcerated.
Among 1603 IDU, 842 (53%) reported injection cessation for at least 6 months at some point during follow-up. In multivariate GEE analyses, recent incarceration was associated negatively with injection cessation [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.37–0.50], whereas the use of methadone was associated positively with cessation (AOR = 1.38, 95% CI 1.22–1.56). In subanalyses assessing longitudinal patterns of drug use among incarcerated individuals and those not incarcerated over the study period, linear growth curve analyses indicated that there were no statistically significant differences in patterns of drug use between the two groups (all P > 0.05).
These observational data suggest that incarceration does not reduce drug use among IDU. Incarceration may inhibit access to mechanisms that promote injection cessation among IDU. In contrast, results indicate that methadone use is associated positively with injection cessation, independent of previous frequency of drug use.
Addiction treatment; deterrence; drug law enforcement; drug policy; drug use patterns; incarceration; injection cessation; injection drug use
Innovative health programs for injection drug users (IDUs), such as supervised injecting facilities (SIFs), are often preceded by evaluations of IDUs’ willingness to use the service. The validity of these surveys has not been fully evaluated. We sought to determine whether measures of willingness collected prior to the opening of a Canadian SIF accurately predicted subsequent use of the program.
Data were derived from a prospective cohort of IDUs. The sample size for this study was 640 IDUs. Using multivariate logistic regression, it was assessed if a history of reporting willingness to use the program, were it available, was associated with subsequent use. In sub-analysis restricted to individuals who had a history of reported willingness, we used multivariate longitudinal analysis to identify factors associated with not attending the SIF.
Among 442 IDUs, 72% of those who reported initial willingness to use a SIF later attended the program, and a prior willingness to use a SIF significantly predicted later attendance (adjusted odds ratio = 1.67). In sub-analyses restricted to those who had a history of reporting willingness to use the SIF, not using the program was predicted by not frequenting the neighborhood where the SIF was located.
Our findings indicate that reported willingness measures collected from IDUs regarding potential SIF program participation prior to its opening independently predicted later attendance even when variables that were likely determinants of willingness were adjusted for. These data suggest that willingness measures are reasonably valid tools for planning the delivery of health services among IDU populations.
injection drug use; supervised injection facilities; validity of willingness measures
Previous studies suggest that active drug use may compromise HIV treatment among HIV-positive injection drug users (IDU). However, little is known about the differential impacts of cocaine injection, heroin injection, and combined cocaine and heroin injection on plasma HIV-1 RNA suppression.
Data were derived from a longstanding open prospective cohort of HIV-positive IDU in Vancouver, Canada. Kaplan-Meier methods and Cox proportional hazards regression were used to examine the impacts of different drug use patterns on rates of plasma HIV-1 RNA suppression.
Between May 1996 and April 2008, 267 antiretroviral (ART) naïve participants were seen for a median follow-up duration of 50.6 months after initiating ART. The incidence density of HIV-1 RNA suppression was 65.2 (95%CI: 57.0–74.2) per 100 person-years. In Kaplan-Meier analyses, compared to those who abstained from injecting, individuals injecting heroin, cocaine, or combined heroin/cocaine at baseline were significantly less likely to achieve viral suppression (all p < 0.01). However, none of the drug use categories remained associated with a reduced rate of viral suppression when considered as time-updated variables (all p > 0.05).
Active injecting at the time of ART initiation was associated with lower plasma HIV-1 RNA suppression rates; however, there was no difference in suppression rates when drug use patterns were examined over time. These findings imply that adherence interventions for active injectors should optimally be applied at the time of ART initiation.
injection drug use; antiretroviral therapy; viral suppression
The authors examined the impact of exposure to the 2010 Winter Olympics time period on outcomes measuring disruption of local sex work environments in Vancouver, Canada.
The authors conducted a before-and-after study, using multivariable logistic regression, to assess the relationship between exposure to the Olympics period (19 January–14 March 2010) versus the post-Olympics period (1 April–1 July 2010) and outcomes.
This study included 207 youth (14+ years) and adult sex workers (SWs) (Olympics: n=107; post-Olympics: n=100). SWs in the two periods were statistically similar, with an overall median age of 33 years (IQR: 28–40), and 106 (51.2%) of indigenous ancestry or ethnic minority. In separate multivariable logistic regression models, the Olympics period remained statistically significantly associated with perceived heightened police harassment of SWs without arrest (adjusted ORs (AOR): 3.95, 95% CIs 1.92 to 8.14), decreased availability of clients (AOR: 1.97, 95% CIs 1.11 to 3.48) and increased difficulty meeting clients due to road closures/construction (AOR: 7.68, 95% CIs 2.46 to 23.98). There were no significantly increased odds in perceived reports of new (0.999), youth (0.536) or trafficked SWs (zero reports) in the Olympic period.
To reduce potential adverse public health impacts of enhanced police harassment and displacement of local sex work markets, results suggest that evidence-based public health strategies need to be adopted for host cities of future events (eg, the London 2012 Olympic Games), such as the removal of criminal sanctions targeting sex work and the piloting and rigorous evaluation of safer indoor work spaces.
Little is known about the potential impact of food insecurity on mortality among people living with HIV/AIDS. We examined the potential relationship between food insecurity and all-cause mortality among HIV-positive injection drug users (IDU) initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) across British Columbia (BC).
Cross-sectional measurement of food security status was taken at participant ART initiation. Participants were prospectively followed from June 1998 to September 2011 within the fully subsidized ART program. Cox proportional hazard models were used to ascertain the association between food insecurity and mortality, controlling for potential confounders.
Among 254 IDU, 181 (71.3%) were food insecure and 108 (42.5%) were hungry. After 13.3 years of median follow-up, 105 (41.3%) participants died. In multivariate analyses, food insecurity remained significantly associated with mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] = 1.95, 95% CI: 1.07–3.53), after adjusting for potential confounders.
HIV-positive IDU reporting food insecurity were almost twice as likely to die, compared to food secure IDU. Further research is required to understand how and why food insecurity is associated with excess mortality in this population. Public health organizations should evaluate the possible role of food supplementation and socio-structural supports for IDU within harm reduction and HIV treatment programs.
Expanding access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has become an important approach to HIV prevention in recent years. Previous studies suggest that concomitant changes in risk behaviours may either help or hinder programs that use a Treatment as Prevention strategy.
We consider HIV-related risk behaviour as a social contagion in a deterministic compartmental model, which treats risk behaviour and HIV infection as linked processes, where acquiring risk behaviour is a prerequisite for contracting HIV. The equilibrium behaviour of the model is analysed to determine epidemic outcomes under conditions of expanding HAART coverage along with risk behaviours that change with HAART coverage. We determined the potential impact of changes in risk behaviour on the outcomes of Treatment as Prevention strategies. Model results show that HIV incidence and prevalence decline only above threshold levels of HAART coverage, which depends strongly on risk behaviour parameter values. Expanding HAART coverage with simultaneous reduction in risk behaviour act synergistically to accelerate the drop in HIV incidence and prevalence. Above the thresholds, additional HAART coverage is always sufficient to reverse the impact of HAART optimism on incidence and prevalence. Applying the model to an HIV epidemic in Vancouver, Canada, showed no evidence of HAART optimism in that setting.
Our results suggest that Treatment as Prevention has significant potential for controlling the HIV epidemic once HAART coverage reaches a threshold. Furthermore, expanding HAART coverage combined with interventions targeting risk behaviours amplify the preventive impact, potentially driving the HIV epidemic to elimination.
Previous studies of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV among young injection drug users (IDU) have been limited because financial barriers to care disproportionately affect youth, thus confounding results. This study examines adherence among IDU in a unique setting where all medical care is provided free-of-charge. From May 1996 to April 2008, we followed a prospective cohort of 545 HIV-positive IDU of 18 years of age or older in Vancouver, Canada. Using generalized estimating equations (GEE), we studied the association between age and adherence (obtaining ART≥95% of the prescribed time), controlling for potential confounders. Using Cox proportional hazards regression, we also studied the effect of age on time to viral load suppression (<500 copies per milliliter), and examined adherence as a mediating variable. Five hundred forty-five participants were followed for a median of 23.8 months (interquartile range [IQR]=8.5–91.6 months). Odds of adherence were significantly lower among younger IDU (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=0.76 per 10 years younger; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65–0.89). Younger IDU were also less likely to achieve viral load suppression (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR]=0.75 per 10 years younger; 95% CI, 0.64–0.88). Adding adherence to the model eliminated this association with age, supporting the role of adherence as a mediating variable. Despite absence of financial barriers, younger IDU remain less likely to adhere to ART, resulting in inferior viral load suppression. Interventions should carefully address the unique needs of young HIV-positive IDU.
(See the editorial commentary by Taiwo and Bosch, on pages 1189–91.)
Background. The importance of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) blip magnitude on virologic rebound has been raised in clinical guidelines relating to viral load assays.
Methods. Antiretroviral-naive individuals initiating combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) after 1 January 2000 and achieving virologic suppression were studied. Negative binomial models were used to identify blip correlates. Recurrent event models were used to determine the association between blips and rebound by incorporating multiple periods of virologic suppression per individual.
Results. 3550 participants (82% male; median age, 40 years) were included. In a multivariable negative binomial regression model, the Amplicor assay was associated with a lower blip rate than branched DNA (rate ratio, 0.69; P < .01), controlling for age, sex, region, baseline HIV-1 RNA and CD4 count, AIDS-defining illnesses, year of cART initiation, cART type, and HIV-1 RNA testing frequency. In a multivariable recurrent event model controlling for age, sex, intravenous drug use, cART start year, cART type, assay type, and HIV-1 RNA testing frequency, blips of 500–999 copies/mL were associated with virologic rebound (hazard ratio, 2.70; P = .002), whereas blips of 50–499 were not.
Conclusions. HIV-1 RNA assay was an important determinant of blip rates and should be considered in clinical guidelines. Blips ≥500 copies/mL were associated with increased rebound risk.
Evidence is needed to improve HIV treatment outcomes for individuals who use injection drugs (IDU). Although studies have suggested higher rates of plasma viral load (PVL) rebound among IDU on antiretroviral therapy (ART), risk factors for rebound have not been thoroughly investigated.
We used data from a long-running community-recruited prospective cohort of IDU in Vancouver, Canada, linked to comprehensive ART and clinical monitoring records. Using proportional hazards methods, we modeled the time to confirmed PVL rebound above 1000 copies/mL among IDU on ART with sustained viral suppression, defined as two consecutive undetectable PVL measures.
Between 1996 and 2009, 277 individuals had sustained viral suppression. Over a median follow-up of 32 months, 125 participants (45.1%) experienced at least one episode of virologic failure for an incidence of 12.6 (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 10.5 – 15.0) per 100 person years. In a multivariate model, PVL rebound was independently associated with sex trade involvement (Adjusted Hazard Ratio [AHR] = 1.40, 95% CI: 1.08 – 1.82) and recent incarceration (AHR = 1.83, 95% CI: 1.33 – 2.52). Methadone maintenance therapy (AHR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.66 – 0.94) was protective. No measure of illicit drug use was predictive.
In this setting of free ART, several social and environmental factors predicted higher risks of viral rebound among IDU, including sex trade involvement and incarceration. These findings should help inform efforts to identify individuals at risk of viral rebound as well as targeted interventions to treat and retain individuals in effective ART.
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; antiretroviral therapy (ART); injection drug user (IDU); plasma HIV-1 RNA viral load; viral suppression; viral rebound