A pinboard by
Roman Shrestha

Doctoral student, University of Connecticut Health Center


Development and testing of innovative HIV prevention approaches among drug users in clinical setting

Despite unequivocal evidence supporting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), few – if any – researchers have reported incorporating it into an existing HIV prevention program, particularly among people who use drugs (PWUD). This study reports the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the CHRP-BB intervention - an integrated bio-behavioral HIV prevention approach to improve PrEP adherence and HIV-risk reduction behaviors among high-risk PWUD in methadone maintenance program (MMP). Methods: Using a within-subjects pre/post/follow-up design, we implemented the CHRP-BB intervention within a group of high-risk, HIV-negative PWUDs on PrEP (n=25). Participants completed four 50-minute intervention sessions, and reported on demographic, behavioral, and psychosocial characteristics at baseline, immediately post-intervention, and 1-month post-intervention. Additionally, we administered process measures among treatment providers and administrators (n=12) at the MMP clinic. Results: We assessed feasibility based on participant engagement (e.g., attending groups, completing assessments), which was outstanding, with 100% retention throughout the study. Results showed that participants were highly satisfied and perceived the CHRP-BB intervention as valuable and acceptable (82.7%). Post-intervention feedback also indicated that the content, the mHealth-based approach (text-messaging), and the overall intervention was helpful in addressing PrEP adherence and HIV risk reduction. In terms of efficacy, PrEP adherence, PrEP-related knowledge and behavioral skills, drug-related risk behaviors, and risk reduction skills improved significantly from Pre- to Post-intervention, and the improvement persisted at the 1-month Follow-up point. Conclusion: The results of our pilot study argue for the potential of the CHRP-BB intervention to increase PrEP adherence and reduction in HIV risk behaviors among high-risk PWUD.


Willingness to Use Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): An Empirical Test of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) Model among High-Risk Drug Users in Treatment.

Abstract: Evidence from recent pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials has demonstrated its safety and efficacy in significantly reducing the risk of HIV acquisition for those who are at considerable risk of acquiring HIV infection. With a rapid increase in the amount of research on the efficacy of PrEP for HIV prevention, complementary research on the willingness to use PrEP has grown, especially among MSM, but limited research has been focused among people who use drugs (PWUD). As part of the formative process, we utilized the information-motivation-behavioral skills (IMB) model of health behavior change to characterize and guide intervention development for promoting willingness to use PrEP among high-risk PWUD. The analysis included 400 HIV-negative high-risk PWUD enrolled in a community-based methadone maintenance treatment who reported drug- and/or sex-related HIV risk behaviors in the past 6-months. Analyses revealed support for the IMB model as PrEP-related behavioral skills were found to mediate the influence of PrEP-related information and motivation on willingness to use PrEP. The results provide evidence as to the utility of the IMB model to increase willingness to use PrEP among high-risk PWUD. It therefore makes an important contribution to our understanding of the applicability of theoretically-grounded models of willingness to use PrEP among high-risk PWUD, who are one of the key risk populations who could benefit from the use of PrEP.

Pub.: 19 Dec '16, Pinned: 07 Jun '17

Examining the Acceptability of mHealth Technology in HIV Prevention Among High-Risk Drug Users in Treatment.

Abstract: Despite promising trends of the efficacy of mobile health (mHealth) based strategies to a broad range of health conditions, very few if any studies have been done in terms of the examining the use of mHealth in HIV prevention efforts among people who use drugs in treatment. Thus, the goal of this study was to gain insight into the real-world acceptance of mHealth approaches among high-risk people who use drugs in treatment. A convenience sample of 400 HIV-negative drug users, who reported drug- and/or sex-related risk behaviors, were recruited from a methadone clinic in New Haven, Connecticut. Participants completed standardized assessments of drug- and sex-related risk behaviors, neurocognitive impairment (NCI), and measures of communication technology access and utilization, and mHealth acceptance. We found a high prevalence of current ownership and use of mobile technologies, such as cell phone (91.5%) including smartphone (63.5%). Participants used mobile technologies to communicate mostly through phone calls (M = 4.25, SD = 1.24), followed by text messages (M = 4.21, SD = 1.29). Participants expressed interest in using mHealth for medication reminders (72.3%), receive information about HIV (65.8%), and to assess drug-related (72.3%) and sex-related behaviors (64.8%). Furthermore, participants who were neurocognitively impaired were more likely to use cell phone without internet and show considerable interest in using mHealth as compared to those without NCI. The findings from this study provide empirical evidence that mHealth-based programs, specifically cell phone text messaging-based health programs, may be acceptable to this high-risk population.

Pub.: 28 Dec '16, Pinned: 07 Jun '17

Correlates of willingness to initiate pre-exposure prophylaxis and anticipation of practicing safer drug- and sex-related behaviors among high-risk drug users on methadone treatment.

Abstract: Although people who use drugs (PWUD) are key populations recommended to receive pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV, few data are available to guide PrEP delivery in this underserved group. We therefore examined the willingness to initiate PrEP and the anticipation of HIV risk reduction while on PrEP among high-risk PWUD.In a cross-sectional study of 400 HIV-negative, opioid dependent persons enrolled in a methadone program and reporting recent risk behaviors, we examined independent correlates of being willing to initiate PrEP.While only 72 (18%) were aware of PrEP, after being given a description of it, 251 (62.7%) were willing to initiate PrEP. This outcome was associated with having neurocognitive impairment (aOR=3.184, p=0.004) and higher perceived HIV risk (aOR=8.044, p<0.001). Among those willing to initiate PrEP, only 12.5% and 28.2%, respectively, indicated that they would always use condoms and not share injection equipment while on PrEP. Consistent condom use was associated with higher income (aOR=8.315, p=0.016), always using condoms with casual partners (aOR=6.597, p=0.001), and inversely associated with ongoing drug injection (aOR=0.323, p=0.027). Consistent safe injection, however, was inversely associated with age (aOR=0.948, p=0.035), ongoing drug injection (aOR=0.342, p<0.001), and perceived HIV risk (aOR=0.191, p=0.019).While willingness to initiate PrEP was high and correlated with being at elevated risk for HIV, anticipated higher risk behaviors in this group even while on PrEP suggests that the next generation of HIV prevention approaches may need to combine biomedical and behavioral components to sustain HIV risk reduction over time.

Pub.: 19 Feb '17, Pinned: 07 Jun '17