In the Journals

Staying Safe Intervention reduced HCV, HIV risk in drug users

The Staying Safe Intervention program reduced risk factors for contracting hepatitis C virus infection and HIV among people who inject drugs, according to recent study data.

Researchers from New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research created the intervention program based on a 2005 study that examined behaviors and strategies of people who injected drugs (PWID) for 8 to 15 years without contracting hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection or HIV. Methods of those drug users were used to teach PWID strategies during five group sessions on how to reduce injection-related risk behavior and risks for HCV and HIV, and how to develop planning and management skills.

Sixty-eight PWID participated in the intervention; 87% attended at least one group session, and 46% attended all five.

Participants reported increases in planning skills to avoid injection-related risks (P<.001), increases in self-efficacy to avoid sharing injection equipment (P=.005) and increases in stigma management strategies (P=.002). There were no reported increases in patient access to education materials or emotional support from nonusing friends or family.

At 3-month follow-up, patients reported the number of average weekly injections and daily drug expenses declined (P<.001). Their mean daily drug expenditure dropped from $77 before intervention to $47 afterward. There also were reductions in overall sharing of syringe and nonsyringe injection equipment, cotton filters, water and water containers when diluting drugs (P<.001 for all).

Mateu-Gelabert

Pedro Mateu-Gelabert

“Given the substantial reductions observed among Staying Safe participants in key injection-related behaviors associated with HCV transmission, the Staying Safe Intervention may have the potential to contribute to sufficient additional risk reduction to help address the seemingly intractable rates of HCV transmission among PWID,” Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, PhD, researcher at the National Development Research Institutes in New York, said in a press release. “The goal is to implement the Staying Safe approach with this new generation of young injectors, so they do not get infected with HIV or HCV.”

Disclosure: See the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.