In British Columbia, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons eligible for antiretroviral therapy may receive it free but the extent to which HIV-infected injection drug users access it is unknown.
To identify patient and physician characteristics associated with antiretroviral therapy utilization in HIV-infected injection drug users.
Prospective cohort study with record linkage between survey data and data from a provincial HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) drug treatment program.
British Columbia, where antiretroviral therapies are offered free to all persons with HIV infection with CD4 cell counts less than 0.50 x 10(9)/L (500/microL) and/or HIV-1 RNA levels higher than 5000 copies/mL.
A total of 177 HIV-infected injection drug users eligible for antiretroviral therapy, recruited through the prospective cohort study since May 1996.
Patient use of antiretroviral drugs through the provincial drug treatment program and physician experience treating HIV infection.
After a median of 11 months after first eligibility, only 71 (40%) of 177 patients had received any antiretroviral drugs, primarily double combinations (47/71 [66%]). Both patient and physician characteristics were associated with use of antiretroviral drugs. After adjusting for CD4 cell count and HIV-1 RNA level at eligibility, odds of not receiving antiretrovirals were increased more than 2-fold for females (odds ratio [OR], 2.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08-5.93) and 3-fold for those not currently enrolled in drug or alcohol treatment programs (OR, 3.49; 95% CI, 1.45-8.40). Younger drug users were less likely to receive therapy (OR, 0.47/10-y increase; 95% CI, 0.28-0.80). Those with physicians having the least experience treating persons with HIV infection were more than 5 times less likely to receive therapy (OR, 5.55; 95% CI, 2.49-12.37).
Despite free antiretroviral therapy, many HIV-infected injection drug users are not receiving it. Public health efforts should target younger and female drug users, and physicians with less experience treating HIV infection.
Comment In: JAMA. 1999 Feb 24;281(8):699; author reply 700-110052432
Comment In: JAMA. 1998 Aug 12;280(6):567-89707152
Comment In: JAMA. 1999 Feb 24;281(8):699; author reply 700-110052431
To compare demographic characteristics, sexual practices, unprotected receptive and insertive anal intercourse, substance use and rates of HIV-1 seroconversion between two prospective cohorts of HIV-negative men who have sex with men.
Comparative analysis of two independent cohorts.
Between May 1995 and April 1996, 235 HIV-negative Vanguard Project (VP) participants were enrolled and between January and December 1985, 263 HIV-negative participants in the Vancouver Lymphadenopathy AIDS Study (VLAS) completed a follow-up visit. The VP participants were compared with VLAS participants with respect to self-reported demographic variables, sexual behaviors, unprotected sex, substance use and rates of HIV-1 seroconversion during follow-up.
In comparison with the VLAS participants the VP participants were younger (median age, 26 versus 34 years; P
To study HIV-associated risk behaviours among young offenders.
Juveniles aged 12 to 19 years entering correctional facilities in British Columbia volunteered in an unlinked anonymous study. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with high-risk sexual behaviours and injection drug use (IDU).
Despite low HIV prevalence (0.25%), patterns of risk behaviour were evident. IDU and homosexual/bisexual activity were equally prevalent among youth aged 12 to 15 and 16 to 19 years. For both age groups, IDU and female gender were significant predictors of sex for trade and sex with another drug user. Natives aged 12 to 15 years were five times more likely to inject drugs than non-Natives. However, predictors of IDU differed for older vs. younger youth.
Patterns of high-risk activity begin early and selective pressures may differ for younger vs. older young offenders. Youth in detention provide a window of opportunity for enhanced HIV/AIDS education.
To identify determinants of HIV seroconversion among injection drug users (IDUs) during a period of rising prevalence, a case-control investigation was conducted. Cases were IDUs with a new positive test after 1 January 1994, and a negative test within the prior 18 months. Controls required 2 negative tests during the same period. Subjects completed a questionnaire on demographic, psychosocial, and behavioural factors. Eighty-nine cases and 192 controls were similar with respect to gender, age, ethnicity and inter-test interval. Multivariate analyses of events during the inter-test interval showed borrowing syringes (adj. OR = 2.96; P or = 4 times daily (adj. OR = 1.71; P = 0.06) to be independently associated with seroconversion. Protective associations were demonstrated for sex with opposite gender (adj. OR = 0.36; P = 0.001) and tetrahydrocannabinol use (adj. OR = 0.41; P = 0.001). There is a need to evaluate programmes dealing with addiction, housing and the social underpinnings of risk behaviours in this population.
An association between needle exchange attendance and higher HIV prevalence rates among injecting drug users (IDU) in Vancouver has been interpreted by some to suggest that needle exchange programmes (NEP) may exacerbate HIV spread. We investigated this observed association to determine whether needle exchange was causally associated with the spread of HIV.
Prospective cohort study of 694 IDU recruited in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. Subjects were HIV-negative at the time of recruitment and had injected illicit drugs within the previous month.
Of 694 subjects, the 15-month cumulative HIV incidence was significantly elevated in frequent NEP attendees (11.8+/-1.7 versus 6.2+/-1.5%; log-rank P = 0.012). Frequent attendees (one or more visits per week) were younger and were more likely to report: unstable housing and hotel living, the downtown eastside as their primary injecting site, frequent cocaine injection, sex trade involvement, injecting in 'shooting galleries', and incarceration within the previous 6 months. The Cox regression model predicted 48 seroconversions among frequent attendees; 47 were observed. Although significant proportions of subjects reported obtaining needles, swabs, water and bleach from the NEP, only five (0.7%) reported meeting new friends or people there. When asked where subjects had met their new sharing partners, only one out of 498 respondents cited the needle exchange. Paired analysis of risk variables at baseline and the first follow-up visit did not reveal any increase in risk behaviours among frequent attendees, regardless of whether they had initiated drug injection after establishment of the NEP.
We found no evidence that this NEP is causally associated with HIV transmission. The observed association should not be cited as evidence that NEP may promote the spread of HIV. By attracting higher risk users, NEP may furnish a valuable opportunity to provide additional preventive/support services to these difficult-to-reach individuals.
The objective of this study is to determine the opinions of a random sample of Canadian family physicians and a population of non-specialist physicians known to provide care to persons with HIV/AIDS about the legalization of physician assisted suicide for persons with HIV disease. In addition, we have attempted to ascertain the physician characteristics that may be associated with a favourable or negative opinion. Self-administered, anonymous questionnaires were mailed to 2,890 family physicians across Canada. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine whether physician characteristics were predictive of agreement with the legalization of physician assisted suicide. Of the respondents who had an opinion, 60% agreed with the legalization of physician assisted suicide. Multivariate analyses indicated that physicians who were living in the provinces of British Columbia (BC), Ontario, or Qu?bec (OR = 1.63, 95% CI: 1.10, 2.43) and who provided routine follow-up care (OR = 1.85, 95% CI: 1.30, 2.63) or palliative care (OR 1.66, 95% CI: 1.13, 2.44) to those with HIV disease were more likely to agree with legalization of physician assisted suicide. This analysis demonstrates a strong support for the legalization of physician assisted suicide for persons with HIV disease among physicians experienced in providing care to those affected.
Young Aboriginal men face marginalization distinct in cause but similar in pattern to those seen among men who have sex with men (MSM) and may be at increased risk for HIV infection. We compared sociodemographic characteristics and risk taking behaviours associated with HIV infection among MSM of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal descent. Data for this comparison were gathered from baseline questionnaires completed by participants in a cohort study of young MSM. Data collection included: demographic characteristics such as age, length of time residing in the Vancouver region, housing, employment, income and income sources; mental health and personal support; instances of forced sex and sex trade participation and; sexual practices with regular and casual male sex partners. Data were available for 57 Aboriginal and 624 non-Aboriginal MSM. Aboriginal MSM were significantly less likely to be employed, more likely to live in unstable housing, to have incomes of 0.05). Our data indicate that among MSM, Aboriginal men are at increased risk of antecedent risk factors for HIV infection including sexual abuse, poverty, poor mental health and involvement in the sex trade.
Young gay and bisexual men may perceive that the consequences of HIV infection have dramatically improved with the availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy. We therefore sought to identify trends in HIV infection rates and associated risk behaviours among young gay and bisexual men in Vancouver.
Prospective cohort study involving gay and bisexual men aged 18-30 years who had not previously tested HIV positive. Subjects were recruited through physicians, clinics and community outreach in Vancouver. Annually participants were tested for HIV antibodies and asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire pertaining to sociodemographic characteristics, sexual behaviours and substance use. Prevalence of HIV infection and risk behaviours were determined for eligible participants who completed a baseline questionnaire and HIV testing as of May 1998. The primary outcome was the proportion of men who reported having protected sex during the year before enrollment and who reported any episode of unprotected sex by the time of the first follow-up visit.
A total of 681 men completed a baseline questionnaire and HIV testing as of May 1998. The median duration between baseline and the first follow-up visit was 14 months. The median age was 25 years. Most of the subjects were white and of high socioeconomic status. The majority (549 [80.6%]) reported having sex only with men; 81 (11.9%) reported bisexual activity. Of the 503 men who had one or more regular male partners, 245 (48.7%) reported at least one episode of unprotected anal sex in the year before enrollment; the corresponding number among the 537 who had one or more casual male partners was 140 (26.1%). The prevalence and incidence of HIV seropositivity were 1.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.8%-2.8%) and 1.7 per 100 person-years [95% CI 0.7-2.7], respectively. Fifty-two (26.5%) of the 196 and 55 (29.7%) of the 185 men with regular partners who reported having practiced protected insertive and receptive anal sex in the year before the baseline visit reported engaging in these activities without a condom at the follow-up visit; the corresponding numbers among the 232 and 242 men with causal partners who had practiced protected insertive and receptive anal sex before the baseline visit were 43 (15.5%) and 26 (9.4%) respectively at follow-up.
The incidence of HIV infection is unacceptably high among this cohort of young gay and bisexual men. Preliminary results suggest a disturbing trend toward increasing levels of unprotected anal intercourse.
Our objective was to characterize the effect of zidovudine therapy on AIDS dementia complex (dementia) free survival among HIV-infected men and women in a population-based cohort with free access to antiretroviral therapy in the province of British Columbia. Time to diagnosis of dementia among individuals was examined on the basis of zidovudine duration, CD4+ cell count at first treatment, gender, and transmission group [men having sex with men (MSM), intravenous drug users (IDU), heterosexuals]. We restricted the analysis to subjects with CD4+ cells counts within 12 months prior to treatment start date. Among 641 participants eligible for analysis, median duration of follow-up was 3.6 years, under which 86 (9.3%) events of dementia occurred. Participants were less likely to develop dementia with: increased zidovudine exposure (OR=0.26, 95% CI: 0.14-0.49), at least 260 CD4+ cells/mm3 (median) (OR=0.52, 95% CI: 0.34-0.78), and MSM risk group (OR=0.57, 95% CI: 0.35-0.94). Those infected through heterosexual contact had an increased risk (RR=2.04, 95% CI: 1.02-4.07). Using Cox's proportional hazards model, controlling for CD4+ cell count at treatment start date, independent predictors of dementia-free survival were: duration of zidovudine (OR=0.28, 95% CI: 0.15-0.52) and MSM transmission group (OR=0.61, 95% CI: 0.37-1.00). In this observational treatment cohort, factors associated with dementia-free survival include duration of zidovudine (AZT) therapy and MSM transmission group. It is not clear from these data whether the AZT protective effect is exclusive to this agent or whether other therapies might offer a similar protective effect.
Beginning in 1994, Vancouver experienced an explosive outbreak of HIV infection among injection drug users (IDUs). The objectives of this study were to measure the prevalence and incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in this context and to examine factors associated with HCV seroconversion among IDUs.
IDUs recruited through a study site and street outreach completed interviewer-administered questionnaires covering subjects' characteristics, behaviour, health status and service utilization and underwent serologic testing for HIV and HCV at baseline and semiannually thereafter. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to identify independent correlates of HCV seroconversion.
As of Nov. 30, 1999, 1345 subjects had been recruited into the study cohort. The prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies was 81.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 79.6% to 83.6%) at enrollment. Sixty-two HCV seroconversions occurred among 155 IDUs who were initially HCV negative and who returned for follow-up, for an overall incidence density rate of 29.1 per 100 person-years (95% CI 22.3 to 37.3). The HCV incidence remained above 16 per 100 person-years over 3 years of observation (December 1996 to November 1999), whereas HIV incidence declined from more than 19 to less than 5 per 100 person-years. Independent correlates of HCV seroconversion included female sex, cocaine use, injecting at least daily and frequent attendance at a needle exchange program.
Because of high transmissibility of HCV among those injecting frequently and using cocaine, the harm reduction initiatives deployed in Vancouver during the study period proved insufficient to eliminate hepatitis C transmission in this population.