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Reducing the Risk for HIV, Hepatitis C Among Injection Drug Users in New York

April 24, 2014

This article was reported by Infectious Disease Special Edition.

Infectious Disease Special Edition reported on a study showing that education and counseling services can control risky behaviors such as needle sharing in injection drug users (IDUs) and thus prevent HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission in this high-risk community. Researchers at New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research evaluated the efficacy of their Staying Safe Intervention, which was based on findings of a previous study in which they observed behaviors of IDUs.

The researchers enrolled 68 IDUs in a five-session Staying Safe education program. The program included safe injecting strategies, HIV and HCV risk in injection drug use, and ways of managing the risks. Of the 68 IDUs, 46 percent attended all sessions and 87 percent attended at least one session.

Participants reported increases in plans to avoid injection risks, self-efficacy, avoidance of sharing equipment, and stigma management strategies. At three-month follow-up, participants reported decreases in average weekly injections and daily drug expenses, and reduced sharing of syringe and nonsyringe injecting equipment, cotton filters, water, and water containers.

Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, PhD, the study's principal investigator, concluded that based on the reduction in risky behaviors among the participants, the Staying Safe Intervention may have the potential to help reduce rates of HCV transmission among IDUs.

The full report, "The Staying Safe Intervention: Training People Who Inject Drugs in Strategies to Avoid Injection-Related HCV and HIV Infection," was published in the journal AIDS Education and Prevention (2014; 26(2):144-157).

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