We evaluated the efficacy of a peer-educator network intervention as a strategy to reduce HIV acquisition among injection drug users (IDUs) and their drug and/or sexual networks. A randomized controlled trial was conducted in St. Petersburg, Russia among IDU index participants and their risk network participants. Network units were randomized to the control or experimental intervention. Only the experimental index participants received training sessions to communicate risk reduction techniques to their network members. Analysis includes 76 index and 84 network participants who were HIV uninfected. The main outcome measure was HIV sero-conversion. The incidence rates in the control and experimental groups were 19.57 (95 % CI 10.74-35.65) and 7.76 (95 % CI 3.51-17.19) cases per 100 p/y, respectively. The IRR was 0.41 (95 % CI 0.15-1.08) without a statistically significant difference between the two groups (log rank test statistic X(2) = 2.73, permutation p value = 0.16). Retention rate was 67 % with a third of the loss due to incarceration or death. The results show a promising trend that this strategy would be successful in reducing the acquisition of HIV among IDUs.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00218673.