Objective: In Vietnam, where 58% of prevalent HIV cases are attributed to people who inject drugs, we evaluated whether a multi-level intervention could improve care outcomes and increase survival.
Methods: We enrolled 455 HIV-infected males who inject drugs from 32 communes in Thai Nguyen Province. Communes were randomized to a community stigma reduction intervention or standard of care and then within each commune, to an individual enhanced counseling intervention or standard of care, resulting into 4 arms: Arm 1 (standard of care); Arm 2 (community intervention alone); Arm 3 (individual intervention alone); and Arm 4 (community + individual interventions). Follow-up was conducted at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months to assess survival.
Results: Overall mortality was 23% (n = 103/455) more than 2 years. There were no losses to follow-up for the mortality endpoint. Survival at 24 months was different across arms: Arm 4 (87%) vs Arm 1 (82%) vs Arm 2 (68%) vs Arm 3 (73%); log-rank test for comparison among arms: P = 0.001. Among those with CD4 cell count <200 cells/mm and not on antiretroviral therapy at baseline (n = 162), survival at 24 months was higher in Arm 4 (84%) compared with other arms (Arm 1: 61%; Arm 2: 50%; Arm 3: 53%; P-value = 0.002). Overall, Arm 4 (community + individual interventions) had increased uptake of antiretroviral therapy compared with Arms 1, 2, and 3.
Conclusions: This multi-level behavioral intervention seemed to increase survival of HIV-infected participants more than a 2-year period. Relative to the standard of care, the greatest intervention effect was among those with lower CD4 cell counts.