METHODS: Data were derived from a respondent-driven survey sample (RDS) collected during 2010 of 460 PWID in greater Kuala Lumpur. Analysis focused on socio-demographic, clinical, behavioural, and network information. Spatial probit models were developed based on a distinction between the influence of peers (individuals nominated through a recruitment network) and neighbours (residing a close distance to the individual). The models were expanded to account for the potential influence of the network formation.
RESULTS: Recruitment patterns of HIV-infected PWID clustered both spatially and across the recruitment networks. In addition, HIV-infected PWID were more likely to have peers and neighbours who inject with clean needles were HIV-infected and lived nearby (<5km), more likely to have been previously incarcerated, less likely to use clean needles (26.8% vs 53.0% of the reported injections, p<0.01), and have fewer recent injection partners (2.4 vs 5.4, p<0.01). The association between the HIV status of peers and neighbours remained significantly correlated even after controlling for unobserved variation related to network formation and sero-sorting.
CONCLUSION: The relationship between HIV status across networks and space in Kuala Lumpur underscores the importance of these factors for surveillance and prevention strategies, and this needs to be more closely integrated. RDS can be applied to identify injection network structures, and this provides an important mechanism for improving public health surveillance, accessing high-risk populations, and implementing risk-reduction interventions to slow HIV transmission.
APPROACH: After developing standard operating procedures and agreement between its Prisons Department and Ministry of Health, Malaysia established pilot MMT programmes in two prisons in the states of Kelantan (2008) and Selangor (2009) - those with the highest proportions of HIV-infected prisoners. Community-based MMT programmes were also established in Malaysia to integrate treatment activities after prisoners' release.
LOCAL SETTING: Having failed to reduce the incidence of HIV infection, in 2005 Malaysia embarked on a harm reduction strategy.
RELEVANT CHANGES: STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES WERE MODIFIED TO: (i) escalate the dose of methadone more slowly; (ii) provide ongoing education and training for medical and correctional staff and inmates; (iii) increase the duration of methadone treatment before releasing prisoners; (iv) reinforce linkages with community MMT programmes after prisoners' release; (v) screen for and treat tuberculosis; (vi) escalate the dose of methadone during treatment for HIV infection and tuberculosis; and (vii) optimize the daily oral dose of methadone (> 80 mg) before releasing prisoners.
LESSONS LEARNT: Prison-based MMT programmes can be effectively implemented but require adequate dosing and measures are needed to improve communication between prison and police authorities, prevent police harassment of MMT clients after their release, and improve systems for tracking release dates.