Aims: This study assessed the effectiveness of HERMITAGE (HIV's Evolution in Russia-Mitigating Infection Transmission and Alcoholism in a Growing Epidemic), an adapted secondary HIV prevention intervention, compared with an attention control condition in decreasing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sex and drug risk behaviors among Russian HIV-infected heavy drinkers.
Design: We conducted a single-blinded, two-armed, randomized controlled trial with 12-month follow-up.
Setting: The study was conducted in St Petersburg, Russia. Participants were recruited from four HIV and addiction clinical sites. The intervention was conducted at Botkin Infectious Disease Hospital.
Participants: HIV-infected individuals with past 6-month risky sex and heavy alcohol consumption (n = 700) were randomized to the HERMITAGE intervention (n = 350) or an attention control condition (n = 350).
Intervention: A Healthy Relationships Intervention stressing disclosure of HIV serostatus and condom use, adapted for a Russian clinical setting with two individual sessions and three small group sessions.
Measurements: The primary outcome was incident STI by laboratory test at 12-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes included change in unprotected sex and several alcohol and injection drug use (IDU) variables.
Findings: Participants had the following baseline characteristics: 59.3% male, mean age 30.1, 60.4% past year IDU, 15.4% prevalent STI and mean CD4 cell count 413.3/μl. Assessment occurred among 75 and 71% of participants at 6 and 12 months, respectively. STIs occurred in 20 subjects (8.1%) in the intervention group and 28 subjects (12.0%) in the control group at 12-month follow-up; logistic regression analyses found no significant difference between groups (adjusted odds ratio 0.63; 95% confidence interval = 0.34-1.18; P = 0.15). Both groups decreased unsafe behaviors, although no significant differences were found between groups.
Conclusions: The HERMITAGE HIV risk reduction intervention does not appear to reduce sexually transmitted infections and HIV risk behaviors in Russian HIV-infected heavy drinkers compared with attention controls.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00483483.
Keywords: HIV risk behaviors; Healthy relationships; RCT; Russian HIV; STI; substance users.
© 2014 Society for the Study of Addiction.