Background: The majority of HIV-infected individuals requiring antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Russia are Injection Drug Users (IDU). Substitution therapy used as part of a comprehensive harm reduction program is unavailable in Russia. Past data shows that only 16% of IDU receiving substance abuse treatment completed the course without relapse, and only 40% of IDU on ART remained on treatment at 6 months. Our goal was to determine if it was feasible to improve these historic outcomes by adding intensive case management (ICM) to the substance abuse and ART treatment programs for IDU.
Methods: IDU starting ART and able to involve a "supporter" who would assist in their treatment plan were enrolled. ICM included opiate detoxification, bi-monthly contact and counseling with the case, weekly group sessions, monthly contact with the "supporter" and home visits as needed. Full follow- up (FFU) was 8 months. Stata v10 (College Station, TX) was used for all analysis. Descriptive statistics were calculated for all baseline demographic variables, baseline and follow-up CD4 count, and viral load. Median baseline and follow-up CD4 counts and RNA levels were compared using the Kruskal-Wallis test. The proportion of participants with RNA < 1000 copies mL at baseline and follow-up was compared using Fisher's Exact test. McNemar's test for paired proportions was used to compare the change in proportion of participants with RNA < 1000 copies mL from baseline to follow-up.
Results: Between November 2007 and December 2008, 60 IDU were enrolled. 34 (56.7%) were male. 54/60 (90.0%) remained in FFU. Overall, 31/60 (52%) were active IDU at enrollment and 27 (45%) were active at their last follow-up visit. 40/60 (66.7%) attended all of their ART clinic visits, 13/60 (21.7%) missed one or more visit but remained on ART, and 7/60 (11.7%) stopped ART before the end of FFU. Overall, 39/53 (74%) had a final 6-8 month HIV RNA viral load (VL) < 1000 copies/mL.
Conclusions: Despite no substitution therapy to assist IDU in substance abuse and ART treatment programs, ICM was feasible, and the retention and adherence of IDU on ART in St. Petersburg could be greatly enhanced by adding ICM to the existing treatment programs.