Researchers: Program discourages HIV transmission in Russia

July 11, 2008

(Boston)-Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) found that sexual behavior counseling during drug addiction treatment should be considered an important component among Russian substance-dependent individuals, in order to decrease risky sexual behavior in the HIV at-risk population. This study appears in the journal Addiction.

Russia has one of the fastest-growing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemics in the world. Mainly prevalent among injection drug users, HIV now is expanding into the general population via sexual transmission. According to research, alcohol use is highly pervasive in Russia, and has been associated with sexual HIV risk-taking behavior. According to lead author Jeffrey Samet, MD, chief of the Section of General Internal Medicine at BMC and BUSM, "a behavioral intervention to reduce unsafe sex is an essential component to HIV prevention, and is critical in the absence of a cure or vaccine."

Researchers compared the current method used to decrease unsafe sexual behavior with the Russian Partnership to Reduce the Epidemic Via Engagement in Narcology Treatment (PREVENT) intervention program. Participants were HIV-positive and negative, and were assigned to either the PREVENT program or the standard addiction treatment.

PREVENT sessions occurred at the hospital and involved obtaining HIV test results, discussion of personal risk and creation of a behavioral change plan. Interventionists provided test results and explained the risk reduction plan to promote safe sex that included using condoms, building sexual-negotiation skills, developing positive attitudes regarding safe sex and emphasizing alcohol and drugs role in impairing judgment. After patients were discharged from the hospital, telephone updates took place for three months. Interventionists checked in and updated participants' personal long-term risk reduction goals and plans.

Participants assigned to the standard addiction treatment program received the usual addiction treatment at the hospital, including HIV testing, but no sexual behavior counseling. Those known to be HIV-infected or who tested positive received a 20-minute HIV post-test counseling session with the study interventionists. This session included creating risk reduction goals and a referral to an HIV care program. Subjects were contacted for study check ups, but not counseled. Both participants of the standard addiction treatment and PREVENT program received condoms upon leaving the hospital.

The researchers found that when comparing the two forms of intervention, participants of the PREVENT program had a higher percentage of safe sex than did the standard addiction participants at the six month follow-up visits. "Both control and intervention groups had improvements in the percentage of safe sex occurrences, restraining from unprotected sex and increasing condom use between baseline and the three month follow-up. While the intervention group maintained or improved their safe sex behaviors at the six month follow-up, the standard addiction treatment group worsened," said Samet.

The Russian PREVENT trial demonstrates that an HIV intervention program targeting the sexual behaviors of alcohol and drug users is feasible in inpatient substance abuse treatment settings, and is effective in increasing safe sex.

Source: Boston University

Explore further: Protein-based sensor could detect viral infection or kill cancer cells

Related Stories

House panel OKs cuts to education, boosts medical research

June 24, 2015

Republicans controlling the powerful House Appropriations panel Wednesday adopted a sweeping spending bill that seeks to protect popular programs like health research, drug treatment and AIDS prevention but slashes education ...

Researcher uses microscale technology to isolate rare cells

June 17, 2015

In a blood sample taken from a cancer patient, there may be a single circulating tumor cell among hundreds of thousands of other cells. These tumor cells can provide valuable information about how cancer progresses, and could ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.