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“Project Protect” intervention. Testing a new approach for HIV prevention

Author(s): Vasylyeva, Tetyana | Friedman, Samuel R. | Smyrnov, Pavlo

Journal: Tobacco Control and Public Health in Eastern Europe
ISSN 2222-2693

Volume: 2;
Issue: S1;
Start page: 35;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: HIV prevention | injection drug users | network | acute infection

BACKGROUND. “Project Protect” aims to find highly infectious individuals through screening for acute/recent infection cases and prevent HIV transmission in the risk networks of these cases through contact tracing of these networks` participants, distributing community alerts about risk of acute infection among them and accurate post-test counseling.METHODS. An ongoing pilot phase of the intervention began in Kriviy Rig and Lviv, Ukraine in November, 2011. Participants are recruited through: 1) screening for cases of acute/recent infection at voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) sites and in partner organizations (including AIDS-Centers) which conduct VCT; 2) visits to drug use venues, chain-referral and contact tracing. Genscreen ultra HIV Ag-Ab “special-tests” are used to detect cases of acute infection. Recent infection is defined as positive test result and preceding negative result within 6 months and/or age younger than 21 years old.RESULTS. In the two cities 173 respondents were recruited to the project, 118 special tests were done. No cases of acute infection and eleven cases of recent infection were found (8 injection drug users (IDUs) with preceding negative result within 6 months, 2 IDUs younger than 21 recruited by project team; one non-IDU with preceding negative result within 6 months referred from AIDS-Center). Six recent cases were recruited through screening at VCT sites, 5 others through contact tracing. Psychologists conducted 41 interviews with recent infection cases and their risk networks` members; 176 community alert flyers were distributed to members of risk networks during the interview by psychologist, at the venue by social worker and by participants themselves; 3 drug use venues were visited by project team with concomitant HIV-testing of people present at the venue. CONCLUSIONS. Network tracing seems to be feasible and to help find recently infected people. Further research is needed to tell whether this intervention reduces HIV transmission rates.
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