Aims: To explore whether the low HIV prevalence observed in Bangladesh results from prevention activities, this study uses mathematical modelling to estimate the impact of a needle/syringe exchange intervention for injecting drug users (IDUs) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Design: Epidemiological, behavioural and intervention monitoring data were used to parameterize a dynamic mathematical model, and fit it to National HIV Sero-surveillance data among IDUs (2000-02). The model was used to estimate the impact of the intervention on HIV transmission among IDUs and their sexual partners.
Setting: Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the HIV prevalence has remained low despite high-risk sexual and injecting behaviours, and growing HIV epidemics in neighbouring countries.
Findings: The model predicts that the intervention may have reduced the incidence of HIV among IDUs by 90% (95% CI 74-94%), resulting in an IDU HIV prevalence of 10% (95% CI 4-19%) after 8 years of intervention activity instead of 42% (95% CI 30-47%) if the intervention had not occurred.
Conclusions: The analysis highlights the potential for rapid HIV spread among IDUs in Dhaka, and suggests that the intervention may have substantially reduced IDU HIV transmission. However, there is no room for complacency. Sustained and expanded funding for interventions in Dhaka and other regions of Bangladesh are crucial to maintaining the low HIV prevalence.