Clinical Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Dr. Kamyar Arasteh’s research concerns the epidemiology of HIV infection and hepatitis, and the associated sexual and drug use risk factors. The goals of this interdisciplinary and international collaborative effort encompass harm reduction at the individual level, reducing the incidence of infections at the population level, and enhancing treatment among vulnerable groups and in countries that have a high burden of disease.
Examples of previous and ongoing work include research projects in geographically diverse locations, such as New York, Estonia, and Vietnam. A cornerstone of these investigations has been the use of rigorous research methods. Developing and improving research methods, with particular attention to quantitative techniques, continues to be an important focus of this work.
BA, Psychology, Marshall University, Huntington, WVMA, Psychology, Marshall University, Huntington, WVPhD, Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TXPostdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Drug addictionEpidemiologyHarm reductionHepatitisHIV/AIDS
Implementing an Updated “Break the Cycle” Intervention to Reduce Initiating Persons into Injecting Drug Use in an Eastern European and a US “opioid epidemic” SettingDes Jarlais, D., Uuskula, A., Talu, A., Barnes, D., Raag, M., Arasteh, K., Org, G., Demarest, D., Feelemyer, J., Berg, H., & Tross, S.
Journal titleAIDS and BehaviorWe tested the hypothesis that an updated “Break the Cycle” (BtC) intervention, based in social cognitive theory and motivational interviewing, would reduce the likelihood that current persons who inject drugs (PWID) would assist persons who do not inject drugs (non-PWID) with first injections in Tallinn, Estonia and Staten Island, New York City. 402 PWID were recruited, a baseline interview covering demographics, drug use, and assisting non-PWID with first drug injections was administered, followed by BtC intervention. 296 follow-up interviews were conducted 6 months post-intervention. Percentages assisting with first injections declined from 4.7 to 1.3% (73% reduction) in Tallinn (p < 0.02), and from 15 to 6% (60% reduction) in Staten Island (p < 0.05). Persons assisted with first injections declined from 11 to 3 in Tallinn (p = 0.02) and from 32 to 13 in Staten Island. (p = 0.024). Further implementation research on BtC interventions is urgently needed where injecting drug use is driving HIV/HCV epidemics and areas experiencing opioid epidemics.
Hepatitis C virus prevalence and estimated incidence among new injectors during the opioid epidemic in New York City, 2000–2017: Protective effects of non-injecting drug useDes Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Mcknight, C., Barnes, D., Perlman, D. C., Uuskula, A., Cooper, H. L., & Tross, S.
Journal titleDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Page(s)74-79Objective: Assess hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence and incidence among person who began injecting drugs during the opioid epidemic in New York City (NYC) and identify possible new directions for reducing HCV infection among persons who inject drugs. Methods: 846 persons who began injecting drugs between 2000 and 2017 were recruited from persons entering Mount Sinai Beth Israel substance use treatment programs. A structured interview was administered and HCV antibody testing conducted. Protective effects of non-injecting drug use were examined among persons who “reversed transitioned” to non-injecting drug use and persons who used non-injected heroin in addition to injecting. Results: Participants were 79% male, 41% White, 15% African-American, 40% Latinx, with a mean age of 35. Of those who began injecting in 2000 or later, 97 persons (11%) “reverse transitioned” back to non-injecting drug use. Reverse transitioning was strongly associated with lower HCV seroprevalence (30% versus 47% among those who continued injecting, p < 0.005). Among those who continued injecting, HCV seropositivity was inversely associated with current non-injecting heroin use (AOR = 0.72, 95%CI 0.52-0.99). HCV incidence among persons continuing to inject was estimated as 13/100 person-years. HCV seropositive persons currently injecting cocaine were particularly likely to report behavior likely to transmit HCV. Conclusions: Similar to other locations in the US, NYC is experiencing high rates of HCV infection among persons who have begun injecting since 2000. New interventions that facilitate substitution of non-injecting for injecting drug use and that reduce transmission behavior among HCV seropositives may provide additional methods for reducing HCV transmission.
Heterosexual male and female disparities in HIV infection at the end of an epidemic: HIV infection among persons who inject drugs in New York City, 2001–2005 and 2011–2015Des Jarlais, D., Mcknight, C., Feelemyer, J., Arasteh, K., Tross, S., Campbell, A. N., Cooper, H. L., & Perlman, D. C.
Journal titleDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Page(s)391-397Background: We examined whether sex disparities (heterosexual male:female) in HIV infection continue to persist at the “end of the HIV epidemic” among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in New York City (NYC). An “end of the epidemic” was operationally defined as 1) prevalence of untreated HIV infection <5%, and 2) estimated HIV incidence <0.5/100 person-years. Methods: PWID were recruited from persons entering substance use treatment programs at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in 2001–2005 and 2011–2015. A structured interview was administered, and HIV and HSV-2 testing was conducted. Incidence was estimated using newly diagnosed cases of HIV. Disparity analyses compared prevalence of HIV, of untreated HIV, HIV risk behaviors, and estimated HIV incidence. Results: By 2011–2015, both heterosexual male and female PWID met the two criteria for an “end of the epidemic,” and there were no significant differences in the prevalence of untreated HIV infection. A large sex difference remained in estimated HIV incidence. In 2013–2015, estimated HIV incidence was 2.8/10,000 PY for males and 7.1/10,000 PY for females. Females had greater risk for HIV on several factors. Conclusion: While NYC has reached an “end of the epidemic” for both heterosexual male and female PWID, sex disparities persist, particularly differences in HIV incidence. Eliminating the sex disparities may require a greater focus on factors associated with sexual transmission.
Increased Methamphetamine Use among Persons Who Inject Drugs in Hai Phong, Vietnam, and the Association with Injection and Sexual Risk BehaviorsFailed generating bibliography.Abstract
Journal titleJournal of Psychoactive Drugs
Page(s)382-389Methamphetamine use has increased significantly in Southeast Asia in the last 5–10 years, but there is little research on risk behaviors associated with the increase in this region. We evaluate injection and sexual risk behaviors associated with current methamphetamine use among heterosexual persons who inject drugs (PWID) in Hai Phong, Vietnam. We recruited 1336 PWID and assessed associations between methamphetamine use, injection and sexual risk behaviors, stratified by HIV serostatus. There were several statistically significant associations between methamphetamine use and sexual risk behaviors among HIV-positive PWID, but we did not find any associations between methamphetamine use and injection risk behaviors. Methamphetamine may increase the likelihood of PWID transmitting HIV to non-injecting primary sexual partners, as it can reduce ART adherence and can lead to weakening of the immune system and increased HIV viral loads. All participants were injecting heroin, and methamphetamine use may interfere with opiate use treatment. Public health efforts should focus on the large increase in methamphetamine use and the associated sexual risk behaviors. Emphasis on sexual risk behavior, particularly among those who are HIV-positive, in conjunction with continued monitoring of ART adherence and HIV viral loads, is critical.
Potential geographic "hotspots" for drug-injection related transmission of HIV and HCV and for initiation into injecting drug use in New York city, 2011-2015, with implications for the current opioid epidemic in the USDes Jarlais, D., Cooper, H. L., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Mcknight, C., & Ross, Z.
Journal titlePLoS One
Issue3Objective We identified potential geographic “hotspots” for drug-injecting transmission of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in New York City. The HIV epidemic among PWID is currently in an “end of the epidemic” stage, while HCV is in a continuing, high prevalence (> 50%) stage. Methods We recruited 910 PWID entering Mount Sinai Beth Israel substance use treatment programs from 2011–2015. Structured interviews and HIV/ HCV testing were conducted. Residential ZIP codes were used as geographic units of analysis. Potential “hotspots” for HIV and HCV transmission were defined as 1) having relatively large numbers of PWID 2) having 2 or more HIV (or HCV) seropositive PWID reporting transmission risk—passing on used syringes to others, and 3) having 2 or more HIV (or HCV) seronegative PWID reporting acquisition risk—injecting with previously used needles/syringes. Hotspots for injecting drug use initiation were defined as ZIP codes with 5 or more persons who began injecting within the previous 6 years. Results Among PWID, 96% injected heroin, 81% male, 34% White, 15% African-American, 47% Latinx, mean age 40 (SD = 10), 7% HIV seropositive, 62% HCV seropositive. Participants resided in 234 ZIP codes. No ZIP codes were identified as potential hotspots due to small numbers of HIV seropositive PWID reporting transmission risk. Four ZIP codes were identified as potential hotspots for HCV transmission. 12 ZIP codes identified as hotspots for injecting drug use initiation. Discussion For HIV, the lack of potential hotspots is further validation of widespread effectiveness of efforts to reduce injecting-related HIV transmission. Injecting-related HIV transmission is likely to be a rare, random event. HCV prevention efforts should include focus on potential hotspots for transmission and on hotspots for initiation into injecting drug use. We consider application of methods for the current opioid epidemic in the US.
Risk behaviors for hiv and hcv infection among people who inject drugs in hai phong, viet nam, 2014Failed generating bibliography.Abstract
Journal titleAIDS and Behavior
Page(s):2161-2171We examined the potential for HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) transmission across persons who inject drugs (PWID), men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and female commercial sex workers (CSW) PWID and the potential for sexual transmission of HIV from PWID to the general population in Hai Phong, Viet Nam. Using respondent driven and convenience sampling we recruited 603 participants in 2014. All participants used heroin; 24% used non-injected methamphetamine. HIV prevalence was 25%; HCV prevalence was 67%. HIV infection was associated with HCV prevalence and both infections were associated with length of injecting career. Reported injecting risk behaviors were low; unsafe sexual behavior was high among MSM-PWID and CSW-PWID. There is strong possibility of sexual transmission to primary partners facilitated by methamphetamine use. We would suggest future HIV prevention programs utilize multiple interventions including ‘‘treatment as prevention’’ to potential sexual transmission of HIV among MSM and CSW-PWID and from PWID to the general population.
Using dual capture/recapture studies to estimate the population size of persons who inject drugs (PWID) in the city of Hai Phong, VietnamDes Jarlais, D., Khue, P. M., Feelemyer, J., Arasteh, K., Thi Huong, D., Thi Hai Oanh, K., Thi Giang, H., Thi Tuyet Thanh, N., Vinh, V. H., Heckathorn, D. D., Moles, J. P., Vallo, R., Quillet, C., Rapoud, D., Michel, L., Laureillard, D., Hammett, T., & Nagot, N.
Journal titleDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Page(s)106-111Background: Good estimates of key population sizes are critical for appropriating resources to prevent HIV infection. We conducted two capture/recapture studies to estimate the number of PWID currently in Hai Phong, Vietnam. Methods: A 2014 respondent-driven sampling (RDS) survey served as one capture, and distribution of cigarette lighters at drug use “hotspots” in 2016 served as another “capture.” A 2016 survey using RDS, conducted 1 week after lighter distribution, served as “recapture” for both captures. Recaptured participants in the two surveys were identified with a computerized fingerprint reader. Recaptured participants from the lighter distribution were asked to show their lighters. Results: 1385 participants were included in the “recapture” survey. They were 94% male and had a median age of 39. All (100%) injected heroin, and HIV prevalence was 30%. 144 of the 603 participants in the 2014 survey and 152 of the 600 PWID who had received lighters were “recaptured” in the 2016 survey. After adjusting for police suppression of drug use hotspots and conducting sensitivity analyses, our best estimate of the population size from the lighter recapture was 4617 (95% CI: 4090–5143), and our best estimate from the 2014 survey recapture was 5220 (95% CI: 4568–5872). A combined best estimate of the PWID population in Hai Phong is 5000, range 4000–6000. Conclusions: The capture/recapture studies produced consistent estimates. Adding a lighter/token distribution to planned RDS surveys may provide an inexpensive method for estimating PWID population size. Analyses of the estimates should include contextual information about the local drug scene.
Decline in herpes simplex virus type 2 among non-injecting heroin and cocaine users in New York City, 2005 to 2014: Prospects for avoiding a resurgence of human immunodeficiency virusDes Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Mcknight, C., Tross, S., Perlman, D. C., Campbell, A. N. C., Hagan, H., & Cooper, H. L. F.
Journal titleSexually Transmitted Diseases
Page(s)85-90Background: Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection increases both susceptibility to and transmissibility of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and HSV-2 and HIV are often strongly associated in HIV epidemics. We assessed trends in HSV-2 prevalence among non-injecting drug users (NIDUs) when HIV prevalence declined from 16% to 8% among NIDUs in New York City. Methods: Subjects were current non-injecting users of heroin and/or cocaine and who had never injected illicit drugs. Three thousand one hundred fifty-seven NIDU subjects were recruited between 2005 and 2014 among persons entering Mount Sinai Beth Israel substance use treatment programs. Structured interviews, HIV, and HSV-2 testing were administered. Change over time was assessed by comparing 2005 to 2010 with 2011 to 2014 periods. Herpes simplex virus type 2 incidence was estimated among persons who participated in multiple years. Results: Herpes simplex virus type 2 prevalence was strongly associated with HIV prevalence (odds ratio, 3.9; 95% confidence interval, 2.9-5.1) from 2005 to 2014. Herpes simplex virus type 2 prevalence declined from 60% to 56% (P = 0.01). The percentage of NIDUs with neither HSV-2 nor HIVinfection increased from37% to 43%, (P < 0.001); the percentagewith HSV-2/HIV coinfection declined from 13% to 6% (P < 0.001). Estimated HSV-2 incidence was 1 to 2/100 person-years at risk. Conclusions: There were parallel declines in HIV and HSV-2 among NIDUs in New York City from 2005 to 2014. The increase in the percentage of NIDUs with neither HSV-2 nor HIV infection, the decrease in the percentage with HSV-2/HIV coinfection, and the low to moderate HSV-2 incidence suggest some population-level protection against resurgence of HIV. Prevention efforts should be strengthened to end the combined HIV/HSV-2 epidemic among NIDUs in New York City.
Decline in HSV-2 among non-injecting Heroin and Cocaine users in New York City, 2005-2014: potential protection against HIV resurgenceDes Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Mcknight, C., Tross, S., Perlman, D., Campbell, A. N. C., Hagan, H., & Cooper, H. L. F.
Journal titleSexually Transmitted Diseases
What happened to the HIV epidemic among non-injecting drug users in New York City?Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Mcknight, C., Feelemyer, J., Campbell, A. N. C., Tross, S., Cooper, H. L. F., Hagan, H., & Perlman, D. C.
Page(s)290-298Background and aims: HIV has reached high prevalence in many non-injecting drug user (NIDU) populations. The aims of this study were to (1) examine the trend in HIV prevalence among non-injecting cocaine and heroin NIDUs in New York City, (2) identify factors potentially associated with the trend and (3) estimate HIV incidence among NIDUs. Design: Serial-cross sectional surveys of people entering drug treatment programs. People were permitted to participate only once per year, but could participate in multiple years. Setting: Mount Sinai Beth Israel drug treatment programs in New York City, USA. Participants: We recruited 3298 non-injecting cocaine and heroin users from 2005 to 2014. Participants were 78.7% male, 6.1% white, 25.7% Hispanic and 65.8% African American. Smoking crack cocaine was the most common non-injecting drug practice. Measures: Trend tests were used to examine HIV prevalence, demographics, drug use, sexual behavior and use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) by calendar year; χ2 and multivariable logistic regression were used to compare 2005–10 versus 2011–14. Findings: HIV prevalence declined approximately 1% per year (P < 0.001), with a decline from 16% in 2005–10 to 8% in 2011–14 (P < 0.001). The percentages of participants smoking crack and having multiple sexual partners declined and the percentage of HIV-positive people on ART increased. HIV incidence among repeat participants was 1.2 per 1000 person-years (95% confidence interval = 0.03/1000–7/1000). Conclusions: HIV prevalence has declined and a high percentage of HIV-positive non-injecting drug users (NIDUs) are receiving antiretroviral treatment, suggesting an end to the HIV epidemic among NIDUs in New York City. These results can be considered a proof of concept that it is possible to control non-injecting drug use related sexual transmission HIV epidemics.
Consistent estimates of very low HIV incidence among people who inject drugs: New York City, 2005-2014Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Mcknight, C., Feelemyer, J., Campbell, A. N. C., Tross, S., Smith, L., Cooper, H. L. F., Hagan, H., & Perlman, D.
Journal titleAmerican Journal of Public Health
Page(s)503-508Objectives. To compare methods for estimating low HIV incidence among persons who inject drugs. Methods. We examined 4 methods in New York City, 2005 to 2014: (1) HIV seroconversions among repeat participants, (2) increase of HIV prevalence by additional years of injection among new injectors, (3) the New York State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stratified extrapolation algorithm, and (4) newly diagnosed HIV cases reported to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Results. The 4 estimates were consistent: (1) repeat participants: 0.37 per 100 person-years (PY; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.05/100 PY, 1.33/100 PY); (2) regression of prevalence by years injecting: 0.61 per 100 PY (95% CI = 0.36/100 PY, 0.87/100 PY); (3) stratified extrapolation algorithm: 0.32 per 100 PY (95% CI = 0.18/100 PY, 0.46/100 PY); and (4)newly diagnosed cases of HIV: 0.14 per 100PY (95%CI = 0.11/100 PY, 0.16/100 PY). Conclusions. All methods appear to capture the same phenomenon of very low and decreasing HIV transmission among persons who inject drugs. Public Health Implications. If resources are available, the use ofmultiple methodswould provide better information for public health purposes.
From Long-Term Injecting to Long-Term Non-Injecting Heroin and Cocaine Use: The Persistence of Changed Drug HabitsDes Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Mcknight, C., Barnes, D., Tross, S., Perlman, D. C., Campbell, A. N. C., Cooper, H. L. F., & Hagan, H.
Journal titleJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Page(s)48-53Objectives Transitioning from injecting to non-injecting routes of drug administration can provide important individual and community health benefits. We assessed characteristics of persons who had ceased injecting while continuing to use heroin and/or cocaine in New York City. Methods We recruited subjects entering Mount Sinai Beth Israel detoxification and methadone maintenance programs between 2011 and 2015. Demographic information, drug use histories, sexual behaviors, and “reverse transitions” from injecting to non-injecting drug use were assessed in structured face-to-face interviews. There were 303 “former injectors,” operationally defined as persons who had injected at some time in their lives, but had not injected in at least the previous 6 months. Serum samples were collected for HIV and HCV testing. Results Former injectors were 81% male, 19% female, 17% White, 43% African-American, and 38% Latino/a, with a mean age of 50 (SD = 9.2), and were currently using heroin and/or cocaine. They had injected drugs for a mean of 14 (SD = 12.2) years before ceasing injection, and a mean of 13 (SD = 12) years had elapsed since their last injection. HIV prevalence among the sample was 13% and HCV prevalence was 66%. The former injectors reported a wide variety of reasons for ceasing injecting. Half of the group appeared to have reached a point where relapse back to injecting was no longer problematic: they had not injected for three or more years, were not deliberately using specific techniques to avoid relapse to injecting, and were not worried about relapsing to injecting. Conclusions Former injectors report very-long term behavior change toward reduced individual and societal harm while continuing to use heroin and cocaine. The behavior change appears to be self-sustaining, with full replacement of an injecting route of drug administration by a non-injecting route of administration. Additional research on the process of long-term cessation of injecting should be conducted within a “combined prevention and care” approach to HIV and HCV infection among persons who use drugs.
Integrated respondent-driven sampling and peer support for persons who inject drugs in Haiphong, Vietnam: a case study with implications for interventionsFailed generating bibliography.Abstract
Journal titleAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Page(s)1312-1315Combined prevention for HIV among persons who inject drugs (PWID) has led to greatly reduced HIV transmission among PWID in many high-income settings, but these successes have not yet been replicated in resource-limited settings. Haiphong, Vietnam experienced a large HIV epidemic among PWID, with 68% prevalence in 2006. Haiphong has implemented needle/syringe programs, methadone maintenance treatment (MMT), and anti-retroviral treatment (ART), but there is an urgent need to identify high-risk PWID and link them to services. We examined integration of respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and strong peer support groups as a mechanism for identifying high-risk PWID and linking them to services. The peer support staff performed the key tasks that required building and maintaining trust with the participants, including recruiting the RDS seeds, greeting and registering participants at the research site, taking electronic copies of participant fingerprints (to prevent multiple participation in the study), and conducting urinalyses. A 6-month cohort study with 250 participants followed the RDS cross-sectional study. The peer support staff maintained contact with these participants, tracking them if they missed appointments, and providing assistance in accessing methadone and ART. The RDS recruitment was quite rapid, with 603 participants recruited in three weeks. HIV prevalence was 25%, Hepatitis C (HCV) prevalence 67%, and participants reported an average of 2.7 heroin injections per day. Retention in the cohort study was high, with 86% of participants re-interviewed at 6-month follow-up. Assistance in accessing services led to half of the participants in need of methadone enrolled in methadone clinics, and half of HIV-positive participants in need of ART enrolled in HIV clinics by the 6-month follow-up. This study suggests that integrating large-scale RDS and strong peer support may provide a method for rapidly linking high-risk PWID to combined prevention and care, and greatly reducing HIV transmission among PWID in resource-limited settings.
Prospects for ending the HIV epidemic among persons who inject drugs in Haiphong, VietnamDes Jarlais, D., Thi Huong, D., Thi Hai Oanh, K., Khuê Pham, M., Thi Giang, H., Thi Tuyet Thanh, N., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Hammett, T., Peries, M., Michel, L., Vu Hai, V., Roustide, M. J., Moles, J. P., Laureillard, D., & Nagot, N.
Journal titleInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Page(s)50-56Background To examine the prospects for “ending the HIV epidemic” among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in Haiphong, Vietnam. Reaching an incidence of <0.5/100 person-years at risk (PY) was used as an operational definition for “ending the epidemic.” Methods A respondent driven sampling study of 603 PWID was conducted from September to October 2014. Current heroin use (verified with urine testing and marks of injection) was an eligibility requirement. A structured questionnaire was administered by trained interviewers to obtain demographic, drug use, and risk behavior data; HIV counseling and testing and HCV testing was also conducted. Two methods (by assuming all new injectors were HIV negative at first injection and by slope of prevalence by years injecting) were used for estimating HIV among persons injecting for <5 years (“new injectors”). Comparisons were made to the HIV epidemic among PWID in New York City and modeling of the HIV epidemic in Can Tho province. Results HIV prevalence was 25% in 2014, down from 68% in 2006 and 48% in 2009; overall HCV prevalence in the study was 67%. Among HIV seropositive PWID, 33% reported receiving antiretroviral treatment. The great majority (83%) of subjects reported pharmacies as their primary source of needles and syringes and self-reported receptive and distributive syringe sharing were quite low (<6%). Estimating HIV incidence among non-MSM male new injectors with the assumption that all were HIV negative at first injection gave a rate of 1.2/100 person-years (95% CI −0.24, 3.4). Estimating HIV incidence by the slope of prevalence by years injecting gave a rate of 0.8/100 person-years at risk (95% CI −0.9, 2.5). Conclusions The current HIV epidemic among PWID in Haiphong is in a declining phase, but estimated incidence among non-MSM new injectors is approximately 1/100 person-years and there is a substantial gap in provision of ART for HIV seropositives. Scaling up interventions, particularly HIV counseling and testing and antiretroviral treatment for all seropositive PWID, should accelerate the decline. Ending the epidemic is an attainable public health goal.
Providing ART to HIV Seropositive Persons Who Use Drugs: Progress in New York City, Prospects for “Ending the Epidemic”Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Mcknight, C., Feelemyer, J., Hagan, H., Cooper, H. L. F., Campbell, A. N. C., Tross, S., & Perlman, D. C.
Journal titleAIDS and Behavior
Page(s)353-362New York City has experienced the largest HIV epidemic among persons who use psychoactive drugs. We examined progress in placing HIV seropositive persons who inject drugs (PWID) and HIV seropositive non-injecting drug users (NIDU) onto antiretroviral treatment (ART) in New York City over the last 15 years. We recruited 3511 PWID and 3543 NIDU from persons voluntarily entering drug detoxification and methadone maintenance treatment programs in New York City from 2001 to 2014. HIV prevalence declined significantly among both PWID and NIDU. The percentage who reported receiving ART increased significantly, from approximately 50 % (2001–2005) to approximately 75 % (2012–2014). There were no racial/ethnic disparities in the percentages of HIV seropositive persons who were on ART. Continued improvement in ART uptake and TasP and maintenance of other prevention and care services should lead to an “End of the AIDS Epidemic” for persons who use heroin and cocaine in New York City.
Adherence to Antiretroviral Medications Among Persons Who Inject Drugs in Transitional, Low and Middle Income Countries: An International Systematic ReviewFeelemyer, J., Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., & Uusküla, A.
Journal titleAIDS and Behavior
Page(s)575-583Adherence to antiretroviral (ART) medication is vital to reducing morbidity and mortality among HIV positive persons. People who inject drugs (PWID) are at high risk for HIV infection in transitional/low/middle income countries (TLMIC). We conducted a systematic review of studies reporting adherence to ART among persons with active injection drug use and/or histories of injection drug use in TLMIC. Meta-regression was performed to examine relationships between location, adherence measurements, and follow-up period. Fifteen studies were included from seven countries. Adherence levels ranged from 33 to 97 %; mean weighted adherence was 72 %. ART adherence was associated with different methods of measuring adherence and studies conducted in Eastern Europe and East Asia. The great heterogeneity observed precludes generalization to TLMIC as a whole. Given the critical importance of ART adherence more research is needed on ART adherence among PWID in TLMIC, including the use of standardized methods for reporting adherence to ART.
Incidence and prevalence of hepatitis c virus infection among persons who inject drugs in New York City: 2006-2013Jordan, A. E., Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Mcknight, C., Nash, D., & Perlman, D. C.
Journal titleDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Page(s)194-200Background: Hepatitis C virus infection is a source of significant preventable morbidity and mortality among persons who inject drugs (PWID). We sought to assess trends in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among PWID from 2006 to 2013 in New York City (NYC). Methods: Annual cross-sectional surveys of PWID entering a large drug abuse treatment program were performed. Risk behavior questionnaires were administered, and HIV and HCV testing were conducted. Comparisons were made with prior prevalence and incidence estimates in 1990-1991 and 2000-2001 reflecting different periods of combined prevention and treatment efforts. Results: HCV prevalence among PWID (N: 1535) was 67% (95% CI: 66-70%) during the study period, and was not significantly different from that observed in 2000-2001. The estimated HCV incidence among new injectors (persons injecting for ≤6 years) during 2006-2013 was 19.5/100 PYO (95% CI: 17-23) and did not differ from that observed in 2000-2001 (18/100 PYO, 95% CI: 14-23/100). Conclusions: Despite the expansion of combined prevention programming between 2000-2001 and 2006-2013, HCV prevalence remained high. Estimated HCV incidence among new injectors also remained high, and not significantly lower than in 2000-2001, indicating that expanded combined prevention efforts are needed to control the HCV epidemic among PWID in NYC.
State laws, syringe exchange, and HIV among persons who inject drugs in the United States: History and effectivenessBramson, H., Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Nugent, A., Guardino, V., Feelemyer, J., & Hodel, D.
Journal titleJournal of Public Health Policy
Page(s)212-230In 1981, when acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first observed among persons who inject drugs, almost all US states had laws criminalizing the possession and distribution of needles and syringes for injecting illicit drugs. We reviewed changes to these laws to permit 'syringe exchanges' and the provision of public funding for such programs. Most of the changes in law occurred during the 1990s, 5-10 years later than in many other countries. Public funding of syringe exchanges is associated with lower rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, greater numbers of syringes distributed (a possible causal mechanism), and greater numbers of health and social services provided. Experience in the United states may prove useful in other countries: state, provincial, and local governments may need to move ahead of central governments in addressing HIV infection among persons who inject drugs.
Will "combined prevention" eliminate racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection among persons who inject drugs in New York City?Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Mcknight, C., Feelemyer, J., Hagan, H., Cooper, H., Campbell, A., Tross, S., & Perlman, D.
Journal titlePLoS One
Issue5It has not been determined whether implementation of combined prevention programming for persons who inject drugs reduce racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection. We examine racial/ethnic disparities in New York City among persons who inject drugs after implementation of the New York City Condom Social Marketing Program in 2007. Quantitative interviews and HIV testing were conducted among persons who inject drugs entering Mount Sinai Beth Israel drug treatment (2007-2014). 703 persons who inject drugs who began injecting after implementation of large-scale syringe exchange were included in the analyses. Factors independently associated with being HIV seropositive were identified and a published model was used to estimate HIV infections due to sexual transmission. Overall HIV prevalence was 4%; Whites 1%, African-Americans 17%, and Hispanics 4%. Adjusted odds ratios were 21.0 (95% CI 5.7, 77.5) for African-Americans to Whites and 4.5 (95% CI 1.3, 16.3) for Hispanics to Whites. There was an overall significant trend towards reduced HIV prevalence over time (adjusted odd ratio = 0.7 per year, 95% confidence interval (0.6-0.8). An estimated 75% or more of the HIV infections were due to sexual transmission. Racial/ethnic disparities among persons who inject drugs were not significantly different from previous disparities. Reducing these persistent disparities may require new interventions (treatment as prevention, pre-exposure prophylaxis) for all racial/ethnic groups.
A perfect storm: Crack cocaine, HSV-2, and HIV among non-injecting drug users in New York CityDes Jarlais, D., Mcknight, C., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Perlman, D. C., Hagan, H., Dauria, E. F., & Cooper, H. L. F.
Journal titleSubstance Use and Misuse
Page(s)783-792Prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has reached 16% among non-injecting drug users (NIDU) in New York City, an unusually high prevalence for a predominantly heterosexual population that does not inject drugs. Using a long-term study (1983-2011, >7,000 subjects) among persons entering the Beth Israel drug-treatment programs in New York City, we identified factors that contributed to this high prevalence: a preexisting HIV epidemic among injectors, a crack cocaine epidemic, mixing between injectors and crack users, policy responses not centered on public health, and herpes-simplex virus 2 facilitating HIV transmission. Implications for avoiding high prevalence among NIDU in other areas are discussed.
Changes in quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF) and addiction severity index (ASI) among participants in opioid substitution treatment (OST) in low and middle income countries: An international systematic reviewFeelemyer, J. P., Des Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Phillips, B. W., & Hagan, H.
Journal titleDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Page(s)251-258Background: Opioid substitution treatment (OST) can increase quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF) and reduce addiction severity index (ASI) scores among participants over time. OST program participants have noted that improvement in quality of life is one of the most important variables to their reduction in drug use. However, there is little systematic understanding of WHOQOL-BREF and ASI domain changes among OST participants in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). Methods: Utilizing PRISMA guidelines we conducted a systematic literature search to identify OST program studies documenting changes in WHOQOL-BREF or ASI domains for participants in buprenorphine or methadone programs in LMIC. Standardized mean differences for baseline and follow-up domain scores were compared along with relationships between domain scores, OST dosage, and length of follow-up. Results: There were 13 OST program studies with 1801 participants from five countries eligible for inclusion in the review. Overall, statistically significant changes were noted in all four WHOQOL-BREF domain and four of the seven ASI domain scores (drug, psychological, legal, and family) documented in studies. Dosage of pharmacologic medication and length of follow-up did not affect changes in domain scores. Conclusion: WHOQOL-BREF and ASI domain scoring is a useful tool in measuring overall quality of life and levels of addiction among OST participants. Coupled with measurements of blood-borne infection, drug use, relapse, and overdose, WHOQOL-BREF and ASI represent equally important tools for evaluating the effects of OST over time and should be further developed as integrated tools in the evaluation of participants in LMIC.
Combined HIV prevention, the New York City Condom Distribution Program, and the evolution of safer sex behavior among persons who inject drugs in New York CityDes Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Mcknight, C., Feelemyer, J., Hagan, H., Cooper, H. L. F., & Perlman, D. C.
Journal titleAIDS and Behavior
Page(s)443-451Examine long term sexual risk behaviors among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in New York City following implementation of "combined" prevention programming, including condom social marketing. Quantitative interviews and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing were conducted among PWID entering Beth Israel Medical Center drug treatment programs 1990-2012. Data were analyzed by four time periods corresponding to the cumulative implementation of HIV prevention interventions. 7,132 subjects were recruited from 1990 to 2012; little change in sexual behavior occurred among HIV seronegative subjects, while HIV seropositive subjects reported significant decreases in being sexually active and significant increases in consistent condom use. HIV transmission risk (being HIV positive and engaging in unprotected sex) declined from 14 % in 1990-1995 to 2 % in 2007-2012 for primary sexual partners and from 6 to 1 % for casual partners. Cumulative implementation of combined prevention programming for PWID was associated with substantial decreases in sexual risk behavior among HIV seropositives.
HSV-2 co-infection as a driver of HIV transmission among heterosexual non-injecting drug users in New York CityDes Jarlais, D., Arasteh, K., Mcknight, C., Perlman, D. C., Feelemyer, J., Hagan, H., & Cooper, H. L. F.
Journal titlePLoS One
Issue1Objective: To examine herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2)/HIV co-infection as a contributing factor in the increase in HIV infection among non-injecting heroin and cocaine users in New York City. Methods: Subjects were recruited from the Beth Israel Medical Center drug detoxification and methadone maintenance programs in New York City in 1995-1999 and 2005-2011. All reported current heroin and/or cocaine use and no injection drug use. A structured questionnaire was administered and serum samples collected for HIV and HSV-2 testing. Population-attributable risk percentages (PAR%s) were estimated for associations between HSV-2 and increased susceptibility to and increased transmissibility of HIV among female NIDUs. Results: 785 subjects were recruited from 1995-1999, and 1764 subjects from 2005-2011. HIV prevalence increased from 7% to 13%, with nearly uniform increases among all demographic subgroups. HSV-2/HIV co-infection was common in both time periods, with an average (over the two time periods) of 80% of HIV negative females infected with HSV-2, an average of 43% of HIV negative males infected with HSV-2; an average of 97% of HIV positive females also infected with HSV-2 and an average of 67% of HIV positive males also infected with HSV-2. The increase in HIV prevalence was predominantly an increase in HSV-2/HIV co-infection, with relatively little HIV mono-infection in either time period. The estimated PAR%s indicate that approximately half of HIV acquisition among females was caused by HSV-2 infection and approximately 60% of HIV transmission from females was due to HSV-2 co-infection. Conclusions: The increase in HIV infection among these non-injecting drug users is better considered as an increase in HSV-2/HIV co-infection rather than simply an increase in HIV prevalence. Additional interventions (such as treatment as prevention and suppressing the effects of HSV-2 on HIV transmission) are needed to reduce further HIV transmission from HSV-2/HIV co-infected non-injecting drug users.
Transitions from injecting to non-injecting drug use: Potential protection against HCV infectionDes Jarlais, D., Mcknight, C., Arasteh, K., Feelemyer, J., Perlman, D. C., Hagan, H., & Cooper, H. L. F.
Journal titleJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Page(s)325-331Transitions from injecting to non-injecting drug use have been reported from many different areas, particularly in areas with large human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemics. The extent to which such transitions actually protect against HIV and HCV has not been determined. A cross-sectional survey with HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) testing was conducted with 322 former injectors (persons who had injected illicit drugs but permanently transitioned to non-injecting use) and 801 current injectors recruited in New York City between 2007 and 2012. There were no differences in HIV prevalence, while HCV prevalence was significantly lower among former injectors compared to current injectors. Years injecting functioned as a mediating variable linking former injector status to lower HCV prevalence. Transitions have continued well beyond the reduction in the threat of AIDS to injectors in the city. New interventions to support transitions to non-injecting drug use should be developed and supported by both drug treatment and syringe exchange programs.
Gender disparities in HIV infection among persons who inject drugs in Central Asia: A systematic review and meta-analysisDes Jarlais, D., Boltaev, A., Feelemyer, J., Bramson, H., Arasteh, K., Phillips, B. W., & Hagan, H.
Journal titleDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Volume132Objective: Disparities in HIV infection, with females having higher rates of HIV infection than males, have been noted among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in many countries. We examined male/female HIV disparities among PWID in Central Asia and compared these disparities with patterns worldwide. Methods: A systematic review and meta-analyses were conducted for studies reporting HIV prevalence by gender among PWID. To be included in the analyses, reports had to contain (1) samples of PWID from Central Asia, (2) HIV data based on laboratory testing, (3) HIV prevalence reported for males and females, and (4) samples that were not recruited on the basis of HIV status. Results: Data were abstracted from 11 studies in 5 countries in Central Asia: China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; the total sample size was 12,225. The mean weighted OR for HIV prevalence among females to males was 0.913 (95% CI 0.07, 1.26), with high heterogeneity among studies (I2=70.0%) and a possible publication bias among studies with small sample sizes (Eggers test=-1.81, 95% CI -5.18, 0.54). Conclusions: The non-significant higher HIV prevalence among male PWID in Central Asia contrasts with the worldwide findings which show slightly higher HIV prevalence among female PWID. This may reflect the relative recency of the HIV epidemics in Central Asia. The findings also suggest there may be factors that protect female PWID from HIV in some settings. Further examination of transmission dynamics in Central Asia is necessary to better understand the HIV epidemic among PWID.