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1.  Social and structural factors associated with HIV disease progression among illicit drug users: A systematic review 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(9):1049-1063.
Objective
To systematically review factors associated with HIV disease progression among illicit drug users, focusing on exposures exogenous to individuals that likely shape access and adherence to HIV treatment.
Design
A systematic review of peer-reviewed English-language studies among HIV-seropositive illicit drug users with at least one of these endpoint of interest: a diagnosis of AIDS; death; changes/differences in CD4 cell counts; or changes/differences in plasma HIV-1 RNA levels.
Methods
Articles were included if they reported factors associated with an outcome of interest among a group of illicit drug users. Studies were identified, screened and selected using systematic methods.
Results
Of 2,668 studies matching the search criteria, 58 (2%) met the inclusion criteria, all but one from North America or Western Europe. Overall, 41 (71%) studies contained significant individual-level clinical characteristics or behaviours (e.g., illicit drug use) associated with disease progression. Fifteen studies (26%) identified significant social, physical, economic or policy-level exposures, including incarceration, housing status or lack of legal income.
Conclusion
While past studies demonstrate important environmental exposures that appear to shape access to care and subsequent disease progression, the limited literature to examine these factors demonstrates the need for future research to consider risk environment characteristics and the role they may play in shaping health outcomes from HIV infection among drug users through determining access and adherence to evidence-based care. (198 words)
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32835221cc
PMCID: PMC3955099  PMID: 22333747
Antiretroviral therapy; CD4; drug users; pathogenesis; progression; risk factors; viral load
2.  Hepatitis C Avoidance in Injection Drug Users: A Typology of Possible Protective Practices 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77038.
Introduction
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents a serious public health concern. People who inject drugs (PWID) are at particular risk and nearly half (45%) of PWID in England may be infected. HCV prevention interventions have only had moderate impact on the prevalence of HCV in this population. Using qualitative methods, we sought to detail the protective practices potentially linked to HCV avoidance among PWID, and explore the motivations for these.
Methods
The study used a life history approach allowing participants to detail their lived experience both before and during the course of their injecting careers. Thirty-seven participants were recruited from drug services in London, and from referrals within local injecting networks. A baseline and follow-up in-depth qualitative interview was carried out with each participant, and for half, a third interview was also undertaken. All underwent testing for HCV antibody. Analyses focused on developing a descriptive typology of protective practices potentially linked to HCV avoidance.
Results
Practices were deemed to be protective against HCV if they could be expected a priori to reduce the number of overall injections and/or the number of injections using shared injecting equipment. Participants reported engaging in various protective practices which fell into three categories identified through thematic analysis: principles about injecting, preparedness, and flexibility.
Conclusions
All participants engaged in protective practices irrespective of serostatus. It is important to consider the relative importance of different motivations framing protective practices in order to formulate harm reduction interventions which appeal to the situated concerns of PWID, especially given that these protective practices may also help protect against HIV and other blood borne infections.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077038
PMCID: PMC3806740  PMID: 24194855
3.  Factors mediating HIV risk among female sex workers in Europe: a systematic review and ecological analysis 
BMJ Open  2013;3(7):e002836.
Objectives
We reviewed the epidemiology of HIV and selected sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among female sex workers (FSWs) in WHO-defined Europe. There were three objectives: (1) to assess the prevalence of HIV and STIs (chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea); (2) to describe structural and individual-level risk factors associated with prevalence and (3) to examine the relationship between structural-level factors and national estimates of HIV prevalence among FSWs.
Design
A systematic search of published and unpublished literature measuring HIV/STIs and risk factors among FSWs, identified through electronic databases published since 2005. ‘Best’ estimates of HIV prevalence were calculated from the systematic review to provide national level estimates of HIV. Associations between HIV prevalence and selected structural-level indicators were assessed using linear regression models.
Studies reviewed
Of the 1993 papers identified in the search, 73 peer-reviewed and grey literature documents were identified as meeting our criteria of which 63 papers provided unique estimates of HIV and STI prevalence and nine reported multivariate risk factors for HIV/STI among FSWs.
Results
HIV in Europe remains low among FSWs who do not inject drugs (<1%), but STIs are high, particularly syphilis in the East and gonorrhoea. FSWs experience high levels of violence and structural risk factors associated with HIV, including lack of access to services and working on the street. Linear regression models showed HIV among FSWs to link with injecting drug use and imprisonment.
Conclusions
Findings show that HIV prevention interventions should be nested inside strategies that address the social welfare of sex workers, highlighting in turn the need to target the social determinants of health and inequality, including regarding access to services, experience of violence and migration. Future epidemiological and intervention studies of HIV among vulnerable populations need to better systematically delineate how microenvironmental and macroenvironmental factors combine to increase or reduce HIV/STI risk.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002836
PMCID: PMC3731729  PMID: 23883879
4.  Hepatitis C treatment access and uptake for people who inject drugs: a review mapping the role of social factors 
Background
Evidence documents successful hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment outcomes for people who inject drugs (PWID) and interest in HCV treatment among this population. Maximising HCV treatment for PWID can be an effective HCV preventative measure. Yet HCV treatment among PWID remains suboptimal. This review seeks to map social factors mediating HCV treatment access.
Method
We undertook a review of the social science and public health literature pertaining to HCV treatment for PWID, with a focus on barriers to treatment access, uptake and completion. Medline and Scopus databases were searched, supplemented by manual and grey literature searches. A two step search was taken, with the first step pertaining to literature on HCV treatment for PWID and the second focusing on social structural factors. In total, 596 references were screened, with 165 articles and reports selected to inform the review.
Results
Clinical and individual level barriers to HCV treatment among PWID are well evidenced. These include patient and provider concerns regarding co-morbidities, adherence, and side effect management. Social factors affecting treatment access are less well evidenced. In attempting to map these, key barriers fall into the following domains: social stigma, housing, criminalisation, health care systems, and gender. Key facilitating factors to treatment access include: combination intervention approaches encompassing social as well as biomedical interventions, low threshold access to opiate substitution therapy, and integrated delivery of multidisciplinary care.
Conclusion
Combination intervention approaches need to encompass social interventions in relation to housing, stigma reduction and systemic changes in policy and health care delivery. Future research needs to better delineate social factors affecting treatment access.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-10-7
PMCID: PMC3686576  PMID: 23651646
Hepatitis C; Antiviral treatment; Treatment access; People who inject drugs; Social factors
5.  Social and environmental predictors of plasma HIV RNA rebound among injection drug users treated with antiretroviral therapy 
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182433288
PMCID: PMC3299888  PMID: 22134149
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; antiretroviral therapy (ART); injection drug user (IDU); plasma HIV-1 RNA viral load; viral suppression; viral rebound
6.  HIV among people who inject drugs in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia: a systematic review with implications for policy 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001465.
Background and objectives
HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID) is a major public health concern in Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia. HIV transmission in this group is growing and over 27 000 HIV cases were diagnosed among PWID in 2010 alone. The objective of this systematic review was to examine risk factors associated with HIV prevalence among PWID in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia and to describe the response to HIV in this population and the policy environments in which they live.
Design
A systematic review of peer-reviewed and grey literature addressing HIV prevalence and risk factors for HIV prevalence among PWID and a synthesis of key resources describing the response to HIV in this population. We used a comprehensive search strategy across multiple electronic databases to collect original research papers addressing HIV prevalence and risk factors among PWID since 2005. We summarised the extent of key harm reduction interventions, and using a simple index of ‘enabling’ environment described the policy environments in which they are implemented.
Studies reviewed
Of the 5644 research papers identified from electronic databases and 40 documents collected from our grey literature search, 70 documents provided unique estimates of HIV and 14 provided multivariate risk factors for HIV among PWID.
Results
HIV prevalence varies widely, with generally low or medium (<5%) prevalence in Central Europe and high (>10%) prevalence in Eastern Europe. We found evidence for a number of structural factors associated with HIV including gender, socio-economic position and contact with law enforcement agencies.
Conclusions
The HIV epidemic among PWID in the region is varied, with the greatest burden generally in Eastern Europe. Data suggest that the current response to HIV among PWID is insufficient, and hindered by multiple environmental barriers including restricted access to services and unsupportive policy or social environments.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001465
PMCID: PMC3488708  PMID: 23087014
7.  Postgraduate career intentions of medical students and recent graduates in Malawi: a qualitative interview study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:87.
Background
In 2004, the Malawian Ministry of Health declared a human resource crisis and launched a six year Emergency Human Resources Programme. This included salary supplements for key health workers and a tripling of doctors in training. By 2010, the number of medical graduates had doubled and significantly more doctors were working in rural district hospitals. Yet there has been little research into the views of this next generation of doctors in Malawi, who are crucial to the continuing success of the programme. The aim of this study was to explore the factors influencing the career plans of medical students and recent graduates with regard to four policy-relevant aspects: emigration outside Malawi; working at district level; private sector employment and postgraduate specialisation.
Methods
Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourth year medical students and first year graduates, recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. Key informant interviews were also carried out with medical school faculty. Recordings were transcribed and analysed using a framework approach.
Results
Opportunities for postgraduate training emerged as the most important factor in participants’ career choices, with specialisation seen as vital to career progression. All participants intended to work in Malawi in the long term, after a period of time outside the country. For nearly all participants, this was in the pursuit of postgraduate study rather than higher salaries. In general, medical students and young doctors were enthusiastic about working at district level, although this is curtailed by their desire for specialist training and frustration with resource shortages. There is currently little intention to move into the private sector.
Conclusions
Future resourcing of postgraduate training opportunities is crucial to preventing emigration as graduate numbers increase. The lesser importance put on salary by younger doctors may be an indicator of the success of salary supplements. In order to retain doctors at district levels for longer, consideration should be given to the introduction of general practice/family medicine as a specialty. Returning specialists should be encouraged to engage with younger colleagues as role models and mentors.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-87
PMCID: PMC3480922  PMID: 22978475
Doctors; Medical students; Postgraduate education; Specialisation; Malawi; Rural health; Brain drain; Emigration
8.  Risky alcohol use among reproductive-age men, not women, in Mae La refugee camp, Thailand, 2009 
Background
Globally, alcohol use contributes to close to 4% of all deaths and is a leading cause of ill health and premature death among men of reproductive age. Problem alcohol use is an unaddressed public health issue among populations displaced by conflict. Assessing the magnitude of the problem and identifying affected groups and risk behaviours is difficult in mobile and unstable populations.
Methods
From 15–28 December 2009 we conducted a simple rapid screening test of risky alcohol use using the single item modified Short Assessment Screening Questionnaire (mSASQ) by all women currently enrolled in the antenatal care clinic in Mae La refugee camp, a long standing displaced setting on the Thai Burma border. Women self- reported and gave a secondary report of their male partners. Gender differences in alcohol use were further explored in semi-structured interviews with camp residents on attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs regarding alcohol and analysed thematically.
Results
Of 636 women screened in the antenatal clinic, almost none (0.2%, 95CI 0.0-0.9%) reported risky alcohol use prior to pregnancy, whereas around a quarter (24.4%, 95CI 21.2-27.9%) reported risky alcohol use by their male partners. Interviews with 97 camp residents described strong social controls against women’s alcohol use and men’s drinking to intoxication, despite a dominant perception that the social context of life in displacement promoted alcohol use and that controls are loosening.
Conclusions
As a stigmatised behaviour, alcohol use is difficult to assess, particularly in the context of highly mobile adult male populations: the simple assessment methods here show that it is feasible to obtain adequate data for the purposes of intervention design. The data suggest that risky drinking is common and normalised among men, but that the population may have been partially protected from rapid rises in problem alcohol use observed in nation-wide data from Thailand. The changing social context contains vulnerabilities that might promote problem alcohol use: further investigation, ongoing monitoring, and development of targeted interventions are warranted.
doi:10.1186/1752-1505-6-7
PMCID: PMC3493317  PMID: 22963719
Alcohol; Substance abuse; Refugees; Assessment; Displaced population; Conflict; mSASQ
9.  Dose-response Effect of Incarceration Events on Nonadherence to HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Among Injection Drug Users 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(9):1215-1221.
(See the editorial commentary by Flanigan and Beckwith, on pages 1201–3.)
Background. Although some studies have identified impressive clinical gains for incarcerated HIV-seropositive injection drug users (IDUs) undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART), the effect of incarceration on adherence to ART remains undetermined.
Methods. We used data from a long-term community-recruited cohort of HIV-seropositive IDUs, including comprehensive ART dispensation records, in a setting where HIV care is free. We estimated the relationship between the cumulative burden of incarceration, measured longitudinally, and the odds of <95% adherence to ART, with use of multivariate modeling.
Results. From 1996 through 2008, 490 IDUs were recruited and contributed 2220 person-years of follow-up; 271 participants (55.3%) experienced an incarceration episode, with the number of incarcerations totaling 1156. In a multivariate model, incarceration had a strong dose-dependent effect on the likelihood of nonadherence to ART: 1-2 incarceration events (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.49; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.03–2.05), 3–5 events (AOR, 2.48; 95% CI, 1.62–3.65), and > 5 events (AOR, 3.11; 95% CI, 1.86–4.95).
Conclusions. Among HIV-seropositive IDUs receiving ART, an increasing burden of incarceration was associated with poorer adherence in a dose-dependent fashion. Our findings support improved adherence support for HIV-seropositive IDUs experiencing incarceration.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir032
PMCID: PMC3069731  PMID: 21459814
10.  “Over here, it’s just drugs, women and all the madness”: The HIV risk environment of clients of female sex workers in Tijuana, Mexico 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2011;72(7):1185-1192.
HIV vulnerability depends upon social context. Based in broader debates in social epidemiology, political economy, and sociology of health, Rhodes’ (2002) “risk environment” framework provides one heuristic for understanding how contextual features influence HIV risk, through different types of environmental factors (social, economic, policy, and physical) which interact at different levels of influence (micro, macro). Few data are available on the “risk environment” of male clients of female sex workers (FSWs); such men represent a potential “bridge” for transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections from high- to low-prevalence populations. Using in-depth interviews (n=30), we describe the HIV risk environment of male clients in Tijuana, Mexico, where disproportionately high HIV prevalence has been reported among FSWs and their clients. A number of environmental themes influence risky sex with FSWs and the interplay between individual agency and structural forces: social isolation and the search for intimacy; meanings and identities ascribed to Tijuana’s Zona Roja (red light district) as a risky place; social relationships in the Zona Roja; and economic roles. Our findings suggest that clients’ behaviors are deeply embedded in the local context. Using the HIV “risk environment” as our analytic lens, we illustrate how clients’ HIV risks are shaped by physical, social, economic, and political factors. The linkages between these and the interplay between structural- and individual-level experiences support theories that view structure as both enabling as well as constraining. We discuss how the “embeddedness” of clients’ experiences warrants the use of environmental interventions that address the circumstances contributing to HIV risk at multiple levels.
doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.02.014
PMCID: PMC3075317  PMID: 21414702
sex work; prostitution; clients; HIV; social determinants; structural factors; risk environment; Mexico
11.  Policing Drug Users in Russia: Risk, Fear, and Structural Violence 
Substance use & misuse  2010;45(6):813-864.
We undertook qualitative interviews with 209 injecting drug users (primarily heroin) in three Russian cities: Moscow, Barnaul, and Volgograd. We explored drug injectors’ accounts of HIV and health risk. Policing practices and how these violate health and self emerged as a primary theme. Findings show that policing practices violate health and rights directly, but also indirectly, through the reproduction of social suffering. Extrajudicial policing practices produce fear and terror in the day-to-day lives of drug injectors, and ranged from the mundane (arrest without legal justification; the planting of evidence to expedite arrest or detainment; the extortion of money or drugs for police gain) to the extreme (physical violence as a means of facilitating ‘confession’ and as an act of ‘moral’ punishment without legal cause or rationale; the use of methods of ‘torture’; and rape). We identify the concept of police bespredel – living with the sense that there are ‘no limits’ to police power – as key to perpetuating fear and terror, internalized stigma, and a sense of fatalist risk acceptance. ‘Police besprediel’ is analyzed as a form of structural violence, contributing to ‘oppression illness’. Yet we also identify cases of resistance to such oppression, characterised by strategies to preserve dignity and hope. We identify hope for change as a resource of risk reduction as well as escape, if only temporarily, from the pervasiveness of social suffering. Future drug policies, and the state responses they sponsor, should set out to promote public health while protecting human rights, hope and human dignity.
doi:10.3109/10826081003590938
PMCID: PMC2946846  PMID: 20397872
Injecting drug use; human rights; HIV/AIDS; risk; fear; police; Russia; structural violence
13.  High-prevalence and high-estimated incidence of HIV infection among new injecting drug users in Estonia: need for large scale prevention programs 
Objective
To examine HIV risk behavior and HIV infection among new injectors in Tallinn, Estonia.
Design and methods
Data from two cross-sectional surveys of injecting drug users (IDUs) recruited from a syringe exchange program (N = 162, Study 1) or using respondent driven sampling (N = 350, Study 2). Behavioral surveys were administered; serum samples were collected for HIV testing. Subjects were categorized into new injectors (injecting ≤ 3 years) and long-term injectors (injecting > 3 years).
Results
Twenty-eight of 161 (17%, Study 1) and 73/350 (21%, Study 2) of the study subjects were new injectors. HIV infection was substantial among the newer injectors: HIV prevalence was 50% (Study 1) and 34% (Study 2), and estimated HIV incidence 31/100 PY and 21/100 PY, respectively. In Study 2, new injectors were more likely to be female and ethnic Estonian and less likely to be injecting daily compared with long-term injectors. No significant difference was found among two groups on sharing injecting equipment or reported number of sexual partners.
Conclusions
A continuing HIV epidemic among new injectors is of critical public health concern. Interventions to prevent initiation into injecting drug use and scaling up HIV prevention programs for IDUs in Estonia are of utmost importance.
doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdn014
PMCID: PMC2925676  PMID: 18308743
Estonia; HIV; IDU; injection drug use; new injecting drug users
14.  Individual, Social, and Environmental Influences Associated With HIV Infection Among Injection Drug Users in Tijuana, Mexico 
Objective
We examined correlates of HIV infection among injection drug users (IDUs) in Tijuana, Mexico, a city bordering the United States, which is situated on major migration and drug trafficking routes.
Methods
IDUs aged ≥18 years were recruited using respondent-driven sampling. Participants underwent antibody testing for HIV and syphilis and structured interviews. Weighted logistic regression identified correlates of HIV infection.
Results
Of 1056 IDUs, the median age was 37 years, 86% were male, and 76% were migrants. HIV prevalence was higher in female participants than in male participants (8% vs. 3%; P = 0.01). Most IDUs testing HIV-positive were previously unaware of their serostatus (93%). IDUs reported injecting with a median of 2 people in the prior 6 months and had been arrested for having injection stigmata (ie, “track-marks”) a median of 3 times. Factors independently associated with HIV infection were being female, syphilis titers consistent with active infection, larger numbers of recent injection partners, living in Tijuana for a shorter duration, and being arrested for having track-marks.
Conclusions
Individual, social, and environmental factors were independently associated with HIV infection among IDUs in Tijuana. These findings suggest the need to intervene not solely on individual risk behaviors but on social processes that drive these behaviors, including problematic policing practices.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e318160d5ae
PMCID: PMC2752692  PMID: 18176320
HIV; injection drug use; Mexico; mobility; policing; sexually transmitted infections
15.  Improving survey methods in sero-epidemiological studies of injecting drug users: a case example of two cross sectional surveys in Serbia and Montenegro 
Background
Little is known about the prevalence of HIV or HCV in injecting drug users (IDUs) in Serbia and Montenegro. We measured prevalence of antibodies to HIV (anti-HIV) and hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV), and risk factors for anti-HCV, in community-recruited IDUs in Belgrade and Podgorica, and determined the performance of a parallel rapid HIV testing algorithm.
Methods
Respondent driven sampling and audio-computer assisted survey interviewing (ACASI) methods were employed. Dried blood spots were collected for unlinked anonymous antibody testing. Belgrade IDUs were offered voluntary confidential rapid HIV testing using a parallel testing algorithm, the performance of which was compared with standard laboratory tests. Predictors of anti-HCV positivity and the diagnostic accuracy of the rapid HIV test algorithm were calculated.
Results
Overall population prevalence of anti-HIV and anti-HCV in IDUs were 3% and 63% respectively in Belgrade (n = 433) and 0% and 22% in Podgorica (n = 328). Around a quarter of IDUs in each city had injected with used needles and syringes in the last four weeks. In both cities anti-HCV positivity was associated with increasing number of years injecting (eg Belgrade adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 5.6 (95% CI 3.2–9.7) and Podgorica AOR 2.5 (1.3–5.1) for ≥ 10 years v 0–4 years), daily injecting (Belgrade AOR 1.6 (1.0–2.7), Podgorica AOR 2.1 (1.3–5.1)), and having ever shared used needles/syringes (Belgrade AOR 2.3 (1.0–5.4), Podgorica AOR 1.9 (1.4–2.6)). Half (47%) of Belgrade participants accepted rapid HIV testing, and there was complete concordance between rapid test results and subsequent confirmatory laboratory tests (sensitivity 100% (95%CI 59%–100%), specificity 100% (95%CI 98%–100%)).
Conclusion
The combination of community recruitment, ACASI, rapid testing and a linked diagnostic accuracy study provide enhanced methods for conducting blood borne virus sero-prevalence studies in IDUs. The relatively high uptake of rapid testing suggests that introducing this method in community settings could increase the number of people tested in high risk populations. The high prevalence of HCV and relatively high prevalence of injecting risk behaviour indicate that further HIV transmission is likely in IDUs in both cities. Urgent scale up of HIV prevention interventions is needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-14
PMCID: PMC2647543  PMID: 19203380
17.  Police violence and sexual risk among female and transvestite sex workers in Serbia: qualitative study 
Objective To explore female and transvestite sex workers’ perceptions of risk in the sex work environment in Serbia.
Design Qualitative interview study.
Setting Street based locations for sex work in Belgrade and Pancevo, Serbia.
Participants 31 female and transvestite sex workers.
Results Violence, including police violence, was reported as a primary concern in relation to risk. Violence was linked to unprotected sex and the reduced capacity for avoiding sexual risk. Participants reported that coerced sex was routinely provided to the police in exchange for freedom from detainment, arrest, or fine, and was enforced by the perceived threat of violence, sometimes realised. Accounts contained multiple instances of physical and sexual assault, presented as abuses of police authority, and described policing as a form of moral punishment. This was largely through non-physical means but was also enforced through physical violence, especially towards transvestite and Roma sex workers, whose experience of police violence was reported as relentless and brutal and connected with broader social forces of discrimination in this setting, especially towards Roma.
Conclusion Preventing violence towards sex workers, which can link with vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections, is a priority in Serbia. This requires monitoring perpetrators of violence, providing legal support to sex workers, and creating safer environments for sex work.
doi:10.1136/bmj.a811
PMCID: PMC2492575  PMID: 18667468
18.  Street Policing, Injecting Drug Use and Harm Reduction in a Russian City: A Qualitative Study of Police Perspectives 
We undertook a qualitative exploration of police perspectives on injecting drug use and needle and syringe access among injecting drug users (IDUs) in a Russian city which has witnessed explosive spread of HIV associated with drug injecting. Twenty-seven in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted in May 2002 with police officers of varying rank who reported having regular contact with IDUs. All interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, translated and coded thematically. Accounts upheld an approach to policing which emphasised high street-based visibility and close surveillance of IDUs. IDUs were depicted as ‘potential criminals’ warranting a ‘pre-emptive’ approach to the prevention of drug-related crime. Street policing was described as a means of maintaining close surveillance leading to the official registration of persons suspected or proven to be users of illicit drugs. Such registration enabled further ongoing surveillance, including through stop and search procedures. While aware of drug users' reluctance to carry injecting equipment linked to their fears of detention or arrest, accounts suggested that the confiscation of previously used injecting equipment can constitute evidence in relation to drugs possession charges and that discovery of clean injecting equipment may be sufficient to raise suspicion and/or further investigation, including through stop and search or questioning. Our findings suggest an uneasy relationship between street policing and needle and syringe access, whereby policing strategies can undermine an HIV prevention ethos promoting needle and syringe accessibility among IDUs. We conclude that facilitating partnerships between policing agencies and HIV prevention initiatives are a critical feature of creating environments conducive for risk reduction.
doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9085-y
PMCID: PMC2438598  PMID: 16855880
Harm reduction; HIV/AIDS; Injecting drug use; Policing; Russia; Syringe exchange
19.  Exploring Barriers to ‘Respondent Driven Sampling’ in Sex Worker and Drug-Injecting Sex Worker Populations in Eastern Europe 
Respondent driven sampling (RDS) has been used in several counties to sample injecting drug users, sex workers (SWs) and men who have sex with men and as a means of collecting behavioural and biological health data. We report on the use of RDS in three separate studies conducted among SWs between 2004 and 2005 in the Russian Federation, Serbia, and Montenegro. Findings suggest that there are limitations associated with the use of RDS in SW populations in these regions. Findings highlight three main factors that merit further investigation as a means of assessing the feasibility and appropriateness of RDS in this high risk population: the network characteristics of SWs; the appropriate level of participant incentives; and lack of service contact. The highly controlled and hidden nature of SW organizations and weak SW social networks in the region can combine to undermine assumptions underpinning the feasibility of RDS approaches and potentially severely limit recruitment. We discuss the implications of these findings for recruitment and the use of monetary and non-monetary incentives in future RDS studies of SW populations in Eastern Europe.
doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9098-6
PMCID: PMC1705510  PMID: 17109206
Respondent driven sampling; Hidden populations; Russia; Serbia; Montenegro; Sex workers
20.  Methods to Recruit Hard-to-Reach Groups: Comparing Two Chain Referral Sampling Methods of Recruiting Injecting Drug Users Across Nine Studies in Russia and Estonia 
Evidence suggests rapid diffusion of injecting drug use and associated outbreaks of HIV among injecting drug users (IDUs) in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. There remains a need for research among non-treatment and community-recruited samples of IDUs to better estimate the dynamics of HIV transmission and to improve treatment and health services access. We compare two sampling methodologies “respondent-driven sampling” (RDS) and chain referral sampling using “indigenous field workers” (IFS) to investigate the relative effectiveness of RDS to reach more marginal and hard-to-reach groups and perhaps to include those with the riskiest behaviour around HIV transmission. We evaluate the relative efficiency of RDS to recruit a lower cost sample in comparison to IFS. We also provide a theoretical comparison of the two approaches. We draw upon nine community-recruited surveys of IDUs undertaken in the Russian Federation and Estonia between 2001 and 2005 that used either IFS or RDS. Sampling effects on the demographic composition and injecting risk behaviours of the samples generated are compared using multivariate analysis. Our findings suggest that RDS does not appear to recruit more marginalised sections of the IDU community nor those engaging in riskier injecting behaviours in comparison with IFS. RDS appears to have practical advantages over IFS in the implementation of fieldwork in terms of greater recruitment efficiency and safety of field workers, but at a greater cost. Further research is needed to assess how the practicalities of implementing RDS in the field compromises the requirements mandated by the theoretical guidelines of RDS for adjusting the sample estimates to obtain estimates of the wider IDU population.
doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9101-2
PMCID: PMC1705540  PMID: 17096189
Estonia; HIV; Indigenous field workers; Injecting drug users; Respondent-driven sampling; Russia.
21.  Methods to Recruit Hard-to-Reach Groups: Comparing Two Chain Referral Sampling Methods of Recruiting Injecting Drug Users Across Nine Studies in Russia and Estonia 
Evidence suggests rapid diffusion of injecting drug use and associated outbreaks of HIV among injecting drug users (IDUs) in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. There remains a need for research among non-treatment and community-recruited samples of IDUs to better estimate the dynamics of HIV transmission and to improve treatment and health services access. We compare two sampling methodologies “respondent-driven sampling” (RDS) and chain referral sampling using “indigenous field workers” (IFS) to investigate the relative effectiveness of RDS to reach more marginal and hard-to-reach groups and perhaps to include those with the riskiest behaviour around HIV transmission. We evaluate the relative efficiency of RDS to recruit a lower cost sample in comparison to IFS. We also provide a theoretical comparison of the two approaches. We draw upon nine community-recruited surveys of IDUs undertaken in the Russian Federation and Estonia between 2001 and 2005 that used either IFS or RDS. Sampling effects on the demographic composition and injecting risk behaviours of the samples generated are compared using multivariate analysis. Our findings suggest that RDS does not appear to recruit more marginalised sections of the IDU community nor those engaging in riskier injecting behaviours in comparison with IFS. RDS appears to have practical advantages over IFS in the implementation of fieldwork in terms of greater recruitment efficiency and safety of field workers, but at a greater cost. Further research is needed to assess how the practicalities of implementing RDS in the field compromises the requirements mandated by the theoretical guidelines of RDS for adjusting the sample estimates to obtain estimates of the wider IDU population.
doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9101-2
PMCID: PMC1705540  PMID: 17096189
Estonia; HIV; Indigenous field workers; Injecting drug users; Respondent-driven sampling; Russia.
22.  Exploring Barriers to ‘Respondent Driven Sampling’ in Sex Worker and Drug-Injecting Sex Worker Populations in Eastern Europe 
Respondent driven sampling (RDS) has been used in several counties to sample injecting drug users, sex workers (SWs) and men who have sex with men and as a means of collecting behavioural and biological health data. We report on the use of RDS in three separate studies conducted among SWs between 2004 and 2005 in the Russian Federation, Serbia, and Montenegro. Findings suggest that there are limitations associated with the use of RDS in SW populations in these regions. Findings highlight three main factors that merit further investigation as a means of assessing the feasibility and appropriateness of RDS in this high risk population: the network characteristics of SWs; the appropriate level of participant incentives; and lack of service contact. The highly controlled and hidden nature of SW organizations and weak SW social networks in the region can combine to undermine assumptions underpinning the feasibility of RDS approaches and potentially severely limit recruitment. We discuss the implications of these findings for recruitment and the use of monetary and non-monetary incentives in future RDS studies of SW populations in Eastern Europe.
doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9098-6
PMCID: PMC1705510  PMID: 17109206
Respondent driven sampling; Hidden populations; Russia; Serbia; Montenegro; Sex workers
23.  Transition and the HIV risk environment 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;331(7510):220-223.
Social changes arising from political transition may have contributed to the spread of HIV. Successful prevention strategies require change to the risk environment as well as individual behaviour
PMCID: PMC1179776  PMID: 16037463

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