Ending an HIV epidemic among persons who inject drugs in a middle-income country: extremely low HIV incidence among persons who inject drugs in Hai Phong, Viet Nam

AIDS. 2020 Dec 1;34(15):2305-2311. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000002712.


Objective: To determine whether it is possible to 'end an HIV epidemic' among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in a low/middle income country.

Design: Serial cross-sectional surveys with a cohort of HIV seronegative participants with 6-month follow-up visits recruited from surveys.

Methods: Surveys of PWID using respondent driven and snowball sampling were conducted in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 (N = 1383, 1451, 1444, and 1268). HIV recency testing was used to identify possible seroconversions in the window period prior to study entry. Structured interviews covering drug use histories, current drug use, and use of HIV-related services were administered by trained interviewers. Urinalysis was used to confirm current drug use. HIV and hepatitis C virus testing were conducted. Electronic fingerprint readers were used to avoid multiple participation in each survey and to link participants across surveys. A cohort of HIV seronegative participants with 6-month follow-up visits was recruited from the surveys, 480 from 2016, 233 from 2017, and 213 from 2018.

Results: Participants were predominantly male (95%), mean age approximately 40, all reported injecting heroin, HIV prevalence ranged between 26 and 30%. We had three seroconversions in 1483 person-years at risk (PYAR) in the cohort study, and 0 in 696 PYAR among repeat survey participants, and 0 seroconversions in 1344 PYAR in recency testing. Overall HIV incidence was 0.085/100 PYAR, 95% confidence interval 0.02-0.25/100 PYAR.

Conclusion: The data from Hai Phong clearly demonstrate that it is possible to achieve very low HIV incidence - 'end an HIV epidemic' - among PWID in a middle-income country.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epidemics
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous* / epidemiology
  • Vietnam / epidemiology