METHODS: An explorative qualitative study was undertaken to explore patient perspectives and satisfaction regarding treatment and services at the new Cure and Care centre in Kota Bharu, Malaysia. A convenience sample of 20 patients was recruited to participate in semi-structured in-depth interviews. Content analysis was used to identify the salient themes.
RESULTS: Patients identified methadone treatment, psychosocial programs, religious instruction, and recreational activities as important factors contributing to treatment success for addressing both health and addiction needs. Though many had previously been in a CDDC, adherence to treatment in the C&C centre was perceived to be facilitated by the degree of social support, the voluntary nature and the array of new programs available for selection.
CONCLUSION: C&Cs represents a dramatic shift in the Malaysian government's approach to drug addiction. Our findings demonstrate positive patient experiences associated with the holistic treatment-based approach of these centres. This exploratory study provides additional evidence to document this ongoing policy transition and may guide continued expansion of new holistic drug treatment programs across the country.
METHODS: A randomly sampled, nationwide biobehavioural health survey was conducted in 8 prisons in Kyrgyzstan among all soon-to-be-released prisoners; women were oversampled. Consented participants underwent computer-assisted, standardized behavioural health assessment surveys and testing for HIV, HCV, HBV, and syphilis. Prevalence and means were computed, and generalized linear modelling was conducted, with all analyses using weights to account for disproportionate sampling by strata.
RESULTS: Among 381 prisoners who underwent consent procedures, 368 (96.6%) were enrolled in the study. Women were significantly older than men (40.6 vs. 36.5; p=0.004). Weighted prevalence (%), with confidence interval (CI), for each infection was high: HCV (49.7%; CI: 44.8-54.6%), syphilis (19.2%; CI: 15.1-23.5%), HIV (10.3%; CI: 6.9-13.8%), and HBV (6.2%; CI: 3.6-8.9%). Among the 31 people with HIV, 46.5% were aware of being HIV-infected. Men, compared to women, were significantly more likely to have injected drugs (38.3% vs.16.0%; p=0.001). Pre-incarceration and within-prison drug injection, primarily of opioids, was 35.4% and 30.8%, respectively. Independent correlates of HIV infection included lifetime drug injection (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=38.75; p=0.001), mean number of years injecting (AOR=0.93; p=0.018), mean number of days experiencing drug problems (AOR=1.09; p=0.025), increasing duration of imprisonment (AOR=1.08; p=0.02 for each year) and having syphilis (AOR=3.51; p=0.003), while being female (AOR=3.06; p=0.004) and being a recidivist offender (AOR=2.67; p=0.008) were independently correlated with syphilis infection.
CONCLUSION: Drug injection, syphilis co-infection, and exposure to increased risk during incarceration are likely to be important contributors to HIV transmission among prisoners in Kyrgyzstan. Compared to the community, HIV is concentrated 34-fold higher in prisoners. A high proportion of undiagnosed syphilis and HIV infections presents a significant gap in the HIV care continuum. Findings highlight the critical importance of evidence-based responses within prison, including enhanced testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, to stem the evolving HIV epidemic in the region.
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.
METHODS: Opioid dependent PWID were interviewed and tested for HIV and HCV in five Ukrainian cities from January 2014 to March 2015. Logistic regression was used to examine the independent correlates of two cascade steps: a) anti-HCV positive status awareness; b) chronic HCV confirmation; and of c) annual HCV testing for PWID.
RESULTS: Among 1613 PWID, 1002 (62.1%) had anti-HCV positive test result, of which 568 (56.7%) were aware of it before the study and 346 (34.5%) reported previous confirmatory testing for chronic HCV. Independent correlates of being aware they had anti-HCV positivity included: current [AOR: 3.08; 95%CI: 2.16-4.40] or prior [AOR: 1.85; 95%CI: 1.27-2.68] opioid agonistic treatment (OAT) experience, relative to no prior OAT, living in Lviv [AOR: 0.50; 95%CI: 0.31-0.81] or Odesa [AOR: 2.73; 95%CI: 1.51-4.93] relative to Kyiv and being aware of having HIV [AOR: 4.10; 95%CI: 2.99-5.62]. Independent correlates of confirming HCV infection among those who were aware of their anti-HCV positive status included: current OAT [AOR: 2.00; 95%CI: 1.24-3.23], relative to prior OAT, the middle income category [AOR: 1.74, 95%CI: 1.15-2.63], relative to the lowest, and receiving ART [AOR: 4.54; 95%CI: 2.85-7.23]. Among 1613 PWID, 918 (56.9%) were either HCV negative or not aware of their HCV positive status, of which 198 (21.6%) reported recent anti-HCV test (during last 12 month). Recent anti-HCV test in this group was associated with current [AOR: 7.17; 95%CI: 4.63-11.13] or prior [AOR: 2.24; 95%CI: 1.32-3.81] OAT experience, relative to no prior OAT.
CONCLUSION: Encouraging PWID to participate in OAT may be an effective strategy to diagnose and link PWID who are HCV positive to care. Among HIV negative participants, regular HCV testing may be ensured by participation in OAT. More studies are needed to assess HCV treatment utilization among PWID in Ukraine and OAT as a possible way to retain them in treatment.
METHODS: We recruited 176 clients from methadone maintenance treatment (MMT: N=110) and needle/syringe programs (NSP: N=66) between November 2015 and August 2016. After baseline knowledge assessments, clients participated in a standardized, 45-min HCV education program and completed post-intervention knowledge assessments to measure change in knowledge and treatment interest.
RESULTS: Participants were mostly male (96.3%), Malay (94.9%), and in their early 40s (mean=42.6years). Following the intervention, overall knowledge scores and treatment interest in MMT clients increased by 68% and 16%, respectively (p<0.001). In contrast, NSP clients showed no significant improvement in overall knowledge or treatment interest, and perceived greater treatment barriers. Multivariate linear regression to assess correlates of HCV knowledge post-intervention revealed that optimal dosage of MMT and having had an HIV test in the past year significantly increased HCV knowledge. Having received a hepatitis B vaccine, however, was not associated with increased HCV knowledge after participating in an education session.
CONCLUSION: Generally, HCV knowledge and screening is low among clients engaged in MMT and NSP services in Malaysia. Integrating a brief, but comprehensive HCV education session within harm reduction services may be a low-cost and effective strategy in improving overall HCV knowledge and risk behaviors in resource-limited settings. In order to be an effective public health approach, however, education interventions must be paired with strategies that improve social, economic and political outcomes for PWID. Doing so may reduce HCV disparities by increasing screening and treatment interest.
METHODS: We conducted an analysis of cross-sectional governmental data collected from seven countries in the region with compulsory drug detention centres, namely Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. We computed descriptive data provided by government representatives for the period between 2012 and 2014.
RESULTS: The total number of people in compulsory detention centres overall decreased by only 4% between 2012 and 2014. In 2014, over 450,000 people were detained in 948 facilities in the seven countries. While only two countries decreased the number of compulsory detention centres, most countries increased the number of people detained.
CONCLUSIONS: In spite of international calls for the closure of compulsory detention centres, the number of facilities and detained people remained high in the seven countries included in the analysis. These officially reported figures are concerning regarding access to effective drug dependence treatment and given the potential for additional human rights abuses within compulsory detention centers. Further concerted policy and advocacy efforts should support transition of treatment for people with drug dependence towards human rights-based and evidence-based drug dependence treatment. Expansion of existing drug and HIV services in the community rather than compulsory treatment modalities will effectively address the region's drug and HIV burden.
METHODS: From April to December 2014, interviews were conducted with twenty men (age range 21-43) living in Greater Kuala Lumpur who had sexual intercourse with other men in the past 6 months and who used illicit drugs at least monthly in the past 3 months. Fourteen men were recruited via gay social networking smartphone applications or websites while six were referred by the participants. Data were analsed using thematic analytic approach.
FINDINGS: The average duration of illicit drug use was 6.4 years (range 1-21) and all participants were using methamphetamine ("ice" or crystal meth) with frequency of use ranged from daily to once a month. Participants came from diverse ethnic, economic, and occupational backgrounds. Most participants used an inhalation apparatus ("bong") to consume methamphetamine and injection was rare in the sample. The primary motivation of methamphetamine use was to increase sexual capacity, heighten sexual pleasure and enhance sexual exploration and adventurism. Socializing with friends ("chilling"), and increased energy for work were secondary motivations. Participants emphasized the need to control the use of methamphetamine and some have established rules to control the amount and duration of use and a minority of men have maintained condom use during anal sex while under the influence of methamphetamine. Participants who professed to be in control of their drug use characterized themselves as functional users regardless of the health and social consequences from continuing use. Overall, participants perceived themselves differently from the traditional opioid users and reported limited access to sexual health and substance use treatment services.
CONCLUSION: There is a need to increase access to HIV prevention services such as PrEP and PEP, professional support, and substance abuse treatment for drug-using MSM. A more open and friendly environment towards drug-using MSM may help them access and engage with the health services.
METHODS: Nominal Group Technique (NGT), a key ingredient of the NIATx toolkit, was directed by three trained coaches within a learning collaborative of 18 OAT clinicians and administrators to identify barriers to increase OAT capacity at the regional "oblast" level, develop solutions, and prioritize local change projects. NGT findings were supplemented from detailed notes collected during the NGT discussion.
RESULTS: The top three identified barriers included: (1) Strict regulations and inflexible policies dictating distribution and dispensing of OAT; (2) No systematic approach to assessing OAT needs on regional or local level; and (3) Limited funding and financing mechanisms combined with a lack of local/regional control over funding for OAT treatment services.
CONCLUSIONS: NGT provides a rapid strategy for individuals at multiple levels to work collaboratively to identify and address structural barriers to OAT scale-up. This technique creates a transparent process to address and prioritize complex issues. Targeting these priorities allowed leaders at the regional and national level to advocate collectively for approaches to minimize obstacles and create policies to improve OAT services.
METHODS: We conducted 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews with self-identifying GBMSM between the ages of 18-39 in Singapore following a purposive sampling strategy. Interview topics included participants' perceptions of drug use among GBMSM in Singapore, perceptions towards chemsex, reasons for drug use and chemsex, and recommendations to address the harms associated with chemsex in Singapore. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, coded, and analysed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Participants reported that it was common to encounter chemsex among GBMSM in Singapore as it could be easily accessed or initiated using social networking phone apps. Enhancement and prolongation of sexual experiences, fear of rejection from sexual partners and peers, and its use as a means of coping with societal rejection were three main reasons cited for engaging in chemsex. The impact of punitive drug laws on disclosure and stigmatisation of GBMSM who use drugs were reported to be key barriers towards addressing chemsex. Participants suggested using gay-specific commercial venues as avenues for awareness and educational campaigns, and social media to reach out to younger GBMSM.
CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the complexities behind chemsex use among GBMSM in Singapore, and the range of individual to institutional factors to be addressed. We recommend that community-based organisations and policy-makers find ways to destigmatise discussion of chemsex and provide safe spaces to seek help for drug use.