Researchers look to reduce Hep C infections with "Staying safe intervention" for injecting drug users

February 17, 2014 by Christopher James

(Medical Xpress)—Despite a number of social/behavioral intervention and educational programs, the spread of hepatitis C (HCV) in people who inject drugs (PWIDs) remains a chronic problem.  Now, researchers affiliated with New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) are focusing on intervention strategies that highlight the lesser-known dangers of HCV transmission through the sharing of other injection equipment such as cookers, filters, drug-dilution water and water containers.

Their article, "The Staying Safe Intervention: Training People Who Inject Drugs in Strategies to Avoid Injection-Related HCV and HIV Infection," published in the 2014 March-April issue of AIDS Education and Prevention, explores the feasibility and efficacy of their "Staying Safe Intervention," a strengths-based social/behavioral intervention conducted with small groups of PWID, designed to facilitate long-term prevention of HIV and HCV.

"The Staying Safe Intervention seeks to reduce injection risk by intervening upstream in the causal chain of risk behaviors by modeling, training in, and motivating the use of strategies and practices of long-term risk-avoidance," said Dr. Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, the study's Principal Investigator, at the NYC-based National Development Research Institutes.

Dr. Mateu-Gelabert and his NDRI-CDUHR team evaluated 68 street-recruited injectors from the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The objective was to reduce participants' injection risk behaviors, empower and motivate behavioral change, and teach tactics to help reduce drug intake.  The current program was built upon findings of their 2005 study, "Staying Safe," which looked at the behaviors and strategies of individuals who had injected drugs for long periods of time (8–15 years) but had not contracted HIV or HCV.

"The Staying Safe Intervention does not focus exclusively on the moment of injection," explains Dr. Mateu-Gelabert, "but on the upstream determinants of risk behavior, such as stigma, risk networks, social support and income, while encouraging injectors to plan ahead in order to better manage the drug-related risk contexts they are likely to face."

The social/behavioral intervention showed substantial improvement in motivation and planning to avoid injection-related risks, increased use of stigma management strategies, and decreases in drug withdrawal episodes (known to reduce safe injection practices) and number of weekly injections. The research team also noted that participants in the study have been spreading the word on safer drug use within their communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that not only do nine percent of new HIV infections originate from drug use, but 18 percent of PWID are HIV positive and up to 70-77 percent of PWIDs have HCV.

"Given the substantial reductions observed among Staying Safe participants in key injection-related associated with HCV transmission, the Staying Safe Intervention may have the potential to contribute to sufficient additional risk reduction to help address the seemingly intractable rates of HCV transmission among PWID," said Dr. Mateu-Gelabert.

Currently, Dr. Mateu-Gelabert's team is researching HCV and HIV risk associated with nonmedical prescription opioid use. Future research will evaluate the effectiveness of the Staying Safe Intervention in preventing HIV and hepatitis C infection among young prescription opioid users who have transitioned to heroin injection.  "The goal is to implement the Staying Safe approach with this new generation of young injectors, so they do not get infected with HIV or HCV," said Dr. Guarino, a Co-investigator in the project.

Explore further: Proportion of opioid treatment programs offering on-site testing for HIV and STIs declines

Related Stories

Proportion of opioid treatment programs offering on-site testing for HIV and STIs declines

December 24, 2013
A survey of opioid treatment programs finds that the proportion offering on-site testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) declined substantially between 2000 and 2011, despite ...

Hepatitis C is transmitted by unprotected sex between HIV-infected men

July 21, 2011
Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is considered rare. But a new study by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides substantial ...

HIV-HCV coinfection speeds HCV-related liver fibrosis

February 27, 2013
(HealthDay)—Individuals who are coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) exhibit liver fibrosis similar to that of individuals without HIV who are nearly 10 years older, according to research published online Feb. ...

Twin epidemics: HIV and Hepatitis C in the urban Northeast

May 17, 2013
A new Yale study looks at the scope and consequences of a burgeoning health problem in the cities of the U.S. Northeast: concurrent infection with both HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV). The study appears online in the May 14 issue ...

EASL publishes revised clinical practice guidelines to optimise the management of hepatitis C virus

December 9, 2013
The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) today publishes their revised Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) on the management of hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) (1). The EASL guidelines, which supersede ...

Women have higher rate of spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus

September 12, 2013
A study of patients infected with acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection found that women had higher rates of spontaneous viral clearance—undetectable levels of the virus without initiating drug therapy. Findings published ...

Recommended for you

New injectable antiretroviral treatment proved to be as effective as standard oral therapy

August 3, 2017
Intramuscularly administered antiretroviral therapy (ART) may be as effective for HIV treatment as current oral therapies. This is the main conclusion of a Phase II clinical trial carried out by 50 research centers around ...

Research finds home-based kit would increase HIV testing

July 31, 2017
Research led by William Robinson, PhD, Associate Research Professor of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, has found that 86% of heterosexuals who are at high risk for ...

Scientists divulge latest in HIV prevention

July 25, 2017
A far cry from the 1990s "ABC" campaign promoting abstinence and monogamy as HIV protection, scientists reported on new approaches Tuesday allowing people to have all the safe sex they want.

Girl's HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

July 24, 2017
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines—more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, ...

Meds by monthly injection might revolutionize HIV care (Update)

July 24, 2017
Getting a shot of medication to control HIV every month or two instead of having to take pills every day could transform the way the virus is kept at bay.

Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test

July 24, 2017
The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.