INTRODUCTION: This paper examines the extent to which an intervention succeeded in locating people who had recently become infected with HIV in the context of the large-scale Ukrainian epidemic. Locating and intervening with people who recently became infected with HIV (people with recent infection, or PwRI) can reduce forward HIV transmission and help PwRI remain healthy.
METHODS: The Transmission Reduction Intervention Project (TRIP) recruited recently-infected and longer-term infected seeds in Odessa, Ukraine, in 2013 to 2016, and asked them to help recruit their extended risk network members. The proportions of network members who were PwRI were compared between TRIP arms (i.e. networks of recently-infected seeds vs. networks of longer-term infected seeds) and to the proportion of participants who were PwRI in an RDS-based Integrated Biobehavioral Surveillance of people who inject drugs in 2013.
RESULTS: The networks of PwRI seeds and those of longer-term infected seeds had similar (2%) proportions who were themselves PwRI. This was higher than the 0.25% proportion in IBBS (OR = 7.80; p = 0.016). The odds ratio among the subset of participants who injected drugs was 11.17 (p = 0.003). Cost comparison analyses using simplified ingredients-based methods found that TRIP spent no more than US $4513 per PwRI located whereas IBBS spent $11,924.
CONCLUSIONS: Further research is needed to confirm these results and improve TRIP further, but our findings suggest that interventions that trace the networks of people who test HIV-positive are a cost-effective way to locate PwRI and reduce HIV transmission and should therefore be implemented.
Social network approaches to locating people recently infected with HIV in Odessa, Ukraine
Journal of the International AIDS Society, 22 (6), e25330. doi: 10.1002/jia2.25330. PMCID: PMC6595706.