The benefits of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for the treatment of HIV infection are well documented, but concerns regarding access and adherence to HAART are growing. We evaluated virological responses to HAART among HIV-1 infected patients who were injection drug users (IDUs) in a population-based setting where HIV/AIDS care is delivered free of charge.
We evaluated previously untreated HIV-1 infected men and women who initiated HAART between Aug. 1, 1996, and July 31, 2000, and who were followed until Mar. 31, 2002, in a province-wide HIV treatment program. We used Kaplan-Meier methods and Cox proportional hazards regression in our evaluation of time to suppression (i.e., less than 500 copies/mL) and rebound (i.e., 500 copies/mL or more) of plasma HIV-1 RNA, with patients stratified according to whether or not they had a history of injection drug use.
Overall, 1422 patients initiated HAART during the study period, of whom 359 (25.2%) were IDUs. In Kaplan-Meier analyses, the cumulative suppression rate at 12 months after initiation of HAART was 70.8% for non-IDUs and 51.4% for IDUs (p 0.1).
Non-IDUs and IDUs had similar rates of HIV-1 RNA suppression and rebound after the initiation of HAART, once lower levels of adherence were taken into account. Nevertheless, the lower virological response rates among IDUs suggest that, unless interventions are undertaken to improve adherence, these patients may experience elevated rates of disease progression and use of medical services in our setting.
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We conducted this study among HIV-infected injection drug users to determine the effect of self-reported alcohol use and prior incarceration at the time of initiating antiretroviral therapy on subsequent HIV-1 RNA suppression. We examined the demographics, recent incarceration history, and drug and alcohol use history from the Vancouver Injection Drug User Study (VIDUS) questionnaire closest to the date of initiating antiretroviral therapy. We linked these data to the HIV/AIDS Drug Treatment Program. There were 234 VIDUS participants who accessed antiretroviral therapy through the Drug Treatment Program from August 1, 1996, to July 31, 2001. In terms of illicit drug use, 196 (84%) reported injecting heroin and cocaine at the time of initiating antiretroviral therapy. Multiple logistic regression revealed that in the 6 months prior to initiating antiretroviral therapy, alcohol use (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.32; 95% CI 0.13-0.81) and incarceration (AOR 0.22; 95% CI 0.09-0.58) were independently associated with lower odds of HIV-1 RNA suppression. Factors positively associated with HIV-1 RNA suppression included: adherence (AOR 1.27; 95% CI 1.06-1.51); lower baseline HIV-1 RNA (AOR 1.30; 95% CI 1.01-1.66); highly active antiretroviral therapy (AOR 4.10; 95% CI 1.56-10.6); months on therapy (AOR 1.1; 95% CI 1.06-1.14). Among HIV-infected injection drug users who were on antiretroviral therapy, any alcohol use and incarceration in the 6 months prior to initiating antiretroviral therapy were negatively associated with achieving HIV-1 RNA suppression. In addition to addiction treatment for active heroin and cocaine use, the identification and treatment of alcohol problems should be supported in this setting. As well, increased outreach to HIV-infected drug users recently released from prison to ensure continuity of care needs to be further developed.
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In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, difficulty accessing syringes at night has been shown to be strongly associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk behavior among the city's injection drug users (IDUs). On September 1, 2001, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) initiated an unsanctioned all-night needle-exchange program on a street corner in the heart of the neighborhood where many of the city's IDUs are concentrated. An external evaluation of the population reached by the VANDU exchange was performed through the Vancouver Injection Drug User's Study, a prospective cohort study of IDUs begun in 1996. Persons accessing syringes through the exchange were compared to those active injectors who acquired their syringes from other sources, including the city's fixed site exchange, which closes at 8:00 PM. Overall, 587 active IDUs were seen during the period September 2001 to June 2002; of these individuals, 165 (28.1%) reported using the VANDU exchange. In multivariate analyses, participants who used the VANDU table were more likely to frequently inject cocaine (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=1.56; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.00-2.44), inject in public (AOR=2.71; 95% CI=1.62-4.53), and require help injecting (OR=2.13; 95% CI=1.33-3.42). Interestingly, use of the table was also independently associated with safer syringe disposal (AOR=2.69; 95% CI=1.38-5.21). Results indicate that the unsanctioned exchange appears to have reached those IDUs at highest risk of HIV infection. Although the cross-sectional nature of the study design warrants caution, we also found that use of the nighttime exchange was strongly associated with higher rates of safe syringe disposal. The data suggest that drug user organizations can play a major role in reducing harm among their peers by reaching the highest risk drug users with harm reduction services. The findings also suggest that other forms of syringe-exchange programs should consider the benefits of offering fixed site nighttime service.
The identification of individuals at the highest risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is critical for targeting prevention strategies. We evaluated self-perceived risk of HIV infection and rates of subsequent HIV seroconversion among a prospective cohort study of injection drug users (IDUs).
We performed an analysis of the time to HIV infection among 994 baseline HIV negative IDUs enrolled in the Vancouver injection drug users study (VIDUS). IDUs were stratified based on their baseline self-perceived risk of HIV seroconversion (higher than others vs same or lower). Kaplan-Meier methods were used to estimate cumulative HIV incidence rates and Cox regression was used to determine adjusted relative hazards for HIV seroconversion.
At the end of 24 months after enrolment into the cohort, the cumulative HIV incidence rate was significantly elevated among the 5.9% of the sample who perceived their risk for HIV infection to be higher at baseline (26.6% vs 7.8% log-rank P
Comment In: Int J Epidemiol. 2005 Feb;34(1):158-915649963
Several studies have highlighted risk factors that cause HIV vulnerability among injection drug users (IDUs); these studies in turn have prompted public health officials to take action to minimize these risks. We sought to evaluate the potential association between binge drug use and HIV seroconversion and, subsequently, risk factors associated with binge drug use among a cohort of IDUs. To do this, we performed analyses of (1) associations with HIV seroconversion and (2) associations with binge drug use among participants enrolled in the Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study (VIDUS), a prospective cohort of IDU. Because serial measures for each individual were available, we undertook a time-updated Cox regression analysis to detect associations with HIV incidence and variables potentially associated with binge drug use were evaluated by using generalized estimating equations (GEE). Overall, 1548 IDU were enrolled into the VIDUS cohort between May 1996 and May 2003. There were 1013 individuals who were HIV seronegative at enrollment and had at least one follow-up visit; 125 (12%) became HIV positive during the study period for a cumulative incidence rate of 14% at 64 months after enrollment. In the final multivariate model, binge drug use [Adjusted Hazards Ratio: 1.61 (CI: 1.12, 2.31)] was independently associated with HIV seroconversion. In subanalyses, when we evaluated associations with binge drug use in GEE analyses, borrowing [Odds Ratio (OR): 153 (CI: 1.33-1.76)] and lending [OR: 1.73 (CI: 1.50-1.98)] syringes, sex trade work [OR: 1.14 (CI: 1.01-1.29)], frequent cocaine [OR: 2.34 (CI: 2.11-2.60)] and heroin [OR: 1.29 (CI: 1.17-1.43)] injection were independently associated with binge drug use and methadone [OR: 0.80 (CI: 0.71-0.89)] was protective against binge drug use. Our study identified an independent association between binge drug use and HIV incidence and demonstrated several high-risk drug practices associated with bingeing. Given the unaddressed public health risks associated with bingeing, a public health response protocol must be developed to minimize the personal and public health risks associated with the binge use of drugs.
Comment In: Subst Use Misuse. 2006;41(6-7):841-316809174
Aboriginal leadership and families are deeply concerned about the rate of suicide attempt among their young people. The objectives of this study were to (a) describe the prevalence of suicide attempt and (b) to describe correlates of vulnerability to suicide attempts within a cohort of young Aboriginal people who use drugs in 2 Canadian cities. We aimed to situate the findings within the context of historical and lifetime trauma. Study design. The Cedar Project is a prospective cohort study involving 605 young Aboriginal people aged 14-30 who use drugs in Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.
Multivariable logistic regression modelling identified independent predictors of suicide attempts. Estimates of adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
In multivariable analysis, residing in Prince George (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR]: 1.80, 95% CI: 1.23, 2.64), ever having been sexually abused (AOR: 2.07, 95% CI: 1.39, 3.08), and ever having overdosed (AOR: 2.29, 95% CI: 1.53, 3.42) independently predicted lifetime attempted suicide.
Suicide prevention and intervention programs must address historical and lifetime trauma among Aboriginal young people who struggle with substance dependence.
Factors associated with HCV incidence among young Aboriginal people in Canada are still not well understood. We sought to estimate time to HCV infection and the relative hazard of risk factors associated HCV infection among young Aboriginal people who use injection drugs in two Canadian cities.
The Cedar Project is a prospective cohort study involving young Aboriginal people in Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia, who use illicit drugs. Participants' venous blood samples were drawn and tested for HCV antibodies. Analysis was restricted to participants who use used injection drugs at enrolment or any of follow up visit. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to identify independent predictors of time to HCV seroconversion.
In total, 45 out of 148 participants seroconverted over the study period. Incidence of HCV infection was 26.3 per 100 person-years (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 16.3, 46.1) among participants who reported using injection drugs for two years or less, 14.4 per 100 person-years (95% CI: 7.7, 28.9) among participants who had been using injection drugs for between two and five years, and 5.1 per 100 person-years (95% CI: 2.6,10.9) among participants who had been using injection drugs for over five years. Independent associations with HCV seroconversion were involvement in sex work in the last six months (Adjusted Hazard Ratio (AHR): 1.59; 95% CI: 1.05, 2.42) compared to no involvement, having been using injection drugs for less than two years (AHR: 4.14; 95% CI: 1.91, 8.94) and for between two and five years (AHR: 2.12; 95%CI: 0.94, 4.77) compared to over five years, daily cocaine injection in the last six months (AHR: 2.47; 95% CI: 1.51, 4.05) compared to less than daily, and sharing intravenous needles in the last six months (AHR: 2.56; 95% CI: 1.47, 4.49) compared to not sharing.
This study contributes to the limited body of research addressing HCV infection among Aboriginal people in Canada. The HCV incidence rate among Cedar Project participants who were new initiates of injection drug use underscores an urgent need for HCV and injection prevention and safety strategies aimed at supporting young people surviving injection drug use and sex work in both cities. Young people must be afforded the opportunity to provide leadership and input in the development of prevention programming.
Cites: AIDS. 2000 Apr 14;14(6):717-2610807195
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Recent Indigenist scholarship has situated high rates of traumatic life experiences, including sexual abuse, among Indigenous peoples of North America within the larger context of their status as colonized peoples. Sexual abuse has been linked to many negative health outcomes including mental, sexual and drug-related vulnerabilities. There is a paucity of research in Canada addressing the relationship between antecedent sexual abuse and negative health outcomes among Aboriginal people including elevated risk of HIV infection. The primary objectives of this study were to determine factors associated with sexual abuse among participants of the Cedar Project, a cohort of young Aboriginal people between the ages of 14 and 30 years who use injection and non-injection drugs in two urban centres in British Columbia, Canada; and to locate findings through a lens of historical and intergenerational trauma. We utilized post-colonial perspectives in research design, problem formulation and the interpretation of results. Multivariate modeling was used to determine the extent to which a history of sexual abuse was predictive of negative health outcomes and vulnerability to HIV infection. Of the 543 eligible participants, 48% reported ever having experienced sexual abuse; 69% of sexually abused participants were female. The median age of first sexual abuse was 6 years for both female and male participants. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables and factors of historical trauma, sexually abused participants were more likely to have ever been on the streets for more than three nights, to have ever self-harmed, to have suicide ideation, to have attempted suicide, to have a diagnosis of mental illness, to have been in the emergency department within the previous 6 months, to have had over 20 lifetime sexual partners, to have ever been paid for sex and to have ever overdosed. The prevalence and consequences of sexual abuse among Cedar Project participants are of grave concern. Sexual trauma will continue to impact individuals, families and communities until unresolved historical trauma is meaningfully addressed in client-driven, culturally safe programming.
Policing has profound health implications for people who use illicit drugs. Among Aboriginal communities, distrust of police is common, due partly to legacies of colonial policing. In response to the paucity of research among Aboriginal people who use drugs, this paper aims to: (1) Describe the policing experiences of young Aboriginal people who use drugs; (2) Identify policing activities associated with unsafe injection practices; and (3) Elucidate barriers to positive police relations.
The Cedar Project is a cohort study involving young Aboriginal people in Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia, who use illicit drugs. This mixed-methods study (N=372) used period prevalence from 2007 to 2010 to describe policing experiences, mixed effects regression models to identify correlates of policing activities, and thematic qualitative analysis to assess attitudes to police relations.
Many participants were stopped by police (73%), experienced physical force by police (28%), had drug equipment confiscated (31%), and changed location of drug use because of police (43%). Participants who reported dealing drugs (40%) were significantly more likely to experience police engagement. Among participants in Prince George, 4% reported to have had non-consensual sex with members of the criminal justice system. Policing activity was significantly associated with syringe sharing, rushed injection, and reused syringe. Due to personal experience, practical concerns, and intergenerational legacies of unfair policing practices, most participants did not want a positive relationship with police (57%). Desire for a positive relationship with police was directly associated with being helped by police, and inversely associated with being stopped by police and experiencing physical force by police.
Policing activities may be impacting the well-being of Aboriginal people who use drugs. Due to focused prosecution of street-level drug dealing, some police may favor enforcement over harm reduction. Positive police engagement and less aggressive policing may enhance perceptions of police among young Aboriginal people who use drugs.