HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa increasingly occur among injecting drug users (IDUs), a most-at-risk population (MARP). Evidence-based services for IDUs such as needle and syringe exchange programs (NSPs), opioid substitution therapy (OST), and IDU-specific antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence support have been non-existent in this region. Kenya is conducting size estimations of IDUs and is preparing to launch first-ever NSPs. Our team of Kenyan policy leaders, addiction/behavioral scientists and modelers will leverage Kenya's new MARPs/NSP platform to seek out IDUs, deliver rapid HIV testing, point of care CD4 count and link to ART, and evaluate community viral load in Nairobi and coastal Mombasa, where most IDUs in Kenya reside.
Aim 1 : Evaluate seek test treat retain - 'Testing & Linkage to Care for IDUs' (TLC-IDU Kenya) - using a stepped wedge cluster-randomized design. Clusters will be the planned n=20 MARP service sites and n=5 NSPs. We will initiate respondent-driven sampling (RDS) to reach IDUs in Nairobi and Mombasa for baseline HIV-1 prevalence determination, and then collect seven waves of study data as service sites roll out, including behavioral data on PDAs. Teams will do rapid HIV testing and refer for addiction/mental health and OST. HIV-positives will receive prevention with positives (PwP) counseling and point of care CD4 counts. Those with CD4 <350/
Aim 3 : Assess the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of the TLC-IDU model, using a national payer perspective. This study will provide among the world's first data regarding implementation of the seek, test, treat and retain paradigm with IDUs in sub-Saharan Africa. It will demonstrate the degree to which a combination of structural, biomedical and behavioral interventions can reduce infectivity. Partnership with Kenya's national HIV program will allow lessons learned from this study to inform other countries considering how best to address the growing IDU contribution to the HIV epidemic in this high-HIV-burden region.
Interventions for injecting drug users (IDUs) in sub-Saharan African have been almost entirely absent, despite the fact that in countries like Kenya they contribute a growing proportion of incident HIV infections. This study will leverage a historic needle exchange program (NSP) for this most-at-risk population (MARP) in Kenya to seek out IDUs, deliver rapid HIV testing, point of care CD4 count and link to ART using peer case managers and evaluate community viral load impact using a stepped wedge cluster-randomized design. Lessons learned will have important applicability throughout sub-Saharan African.
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