IAS 2015A program of peer-based education reduced HIV incidence among injection drug users (IDUs) in Ukraine, apparently because of greater use of needle exchange programs, aidsmap reports. Researchers presented findings from their study of 1,205 Ukrainian IDUs at the 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The participants were randomly split into two groups. One received a control intervention, which included a counseling and education program much like one suggested by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. The other group received the same intervention alongside a peer-based harm-reduction intervention. The peer educators were also active IDUs.

After one year, 31.8 percent of those in the control group contracted HIV, compared with 18.4 percent in the peer-based intervention group. Thus, the peer program reduced the one-year risk of HIV by 41 percent.

After adjusting for various factors, the investigators found that contracting the virus was linked with being older and more frequently using injection drugs. Those with multiple sex partners were less likely to acquire the virus, possibly because they are more likely to use condoms.

The peer-intervention group reported using needle exchange programs 53 percent and 17 percent more often after a respective six and 12 months than the control group.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To download the slides from the conference presentation, click here. [On HIV incidence reduction.]