Has resourcing of non-governmental harm-reduction organizations in Ukraine improved HIV prevention and treatment outcomes for people who inject drugs? Findings from multiple bio-behavioural surveys

Adam J W Trickey*, Nadiya Semchuk, Tetiana Saliuk, Yana Sazonova, Olga Varetska, Josephine G Walker, Aaron G Lim, Jack Stone, Peter T Vickerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Introduction
People who inject drugs (PWID) in Ukraine have high prevalences of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). Since the turn of the century, various organizations have funded non‐governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ukraine to provide PWID with needles and syringes, condoms, HIV and HCV testing, and improve linkage to opioid agonist therapy (OAT) and HIV treatment. We investigated whether contact with these NGOs was associated with improved HIV prevention and treatment outcomes among PWID.

Methods
Five rounds of respondent‐driven sampled integrated bio‐behavioural survey data (2009 [N = 3962], 2011 [N = 9069], 2013 [N = 9502], 2015 [N = 9405], and 2017 [N = 10076]) among PWID in Ukraine (including HIV/HCV testing and questionnaires) were analysed using mixed‐effect logistic regression models (mixed‐effects: city, year). These regression models assessed associations between being an NGO client and various behavioural, OAT, HIV testing and HIV treatment outcomes, adjusting for demographic characteristics (age, gender, lifetime imprisonment, registration in a drug abuse clinic, education level). We also assessed associations between being an NGO client and being HIV positive or HCV positive, likewise adjusting for demographic characteristics (as above).

Results
NGO clients were more likely to have received HIV testing ever (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 5.37, 95% confidence interval [95% CI]: 4.97 to 5.80) or in the last year (aOR 3.37, 95% CI: 3.20 to 3.54), to have used condoms at last sexual intercourse (aOR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.30 to 1.44) and sterile needles at last injection (aOR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.20 to 1.56), to be currently (aOR 4.19, 95% CI: 3.48 to 5.05) or ever (aOR 2.52, 95% CI: 2.32 to 2.74) on OAT, and to have received syringes (aOR 109.89, 95% CI: 99.26 to 121.66) or condoms (aOR 54.39, 95% CI: 50.17 to 58.96) in the last year. PWID who were HIV positive (aOR 1.40, 95% CI: 1.33 to 1.48) or HCV positive (aOR 1.57, 95% CI: 1.49 to 1.65) were more likely to have contact with NGOs, with HIV positive PWID in contact with NGOs being more likely to be registered at AIDS centres (aOR 2.34, 95% CI: 1.88 to 2.92) and to be on antiretroviral therapy (aOR 1.60, 95% CI: 1.40 to 1.83).

Conclusions
Contact with PWID targeted NGOs in Ukraine is associated with consistently better preventive, HIV testing and HIV treatment outcomes, suggesting a beneficial impact of harm reduction NGO programming.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25608
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
Volume23
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Ukraine
  • harm reduction
  • prevention
  • HIV
  • hepatitis C virus
  • NGO

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