HIV prevalence among IDU has exceeded 80% in soem areas of Myanmar. HIV prevention has been introduced and is being expanded.
The aim of this project is to study the seroincidence of HIV transmission among IDUs and DUs living in Lashio Township in the Northern Shan States of Burma, as part of the monitoring mechanism to detect the impact of harm reduction initiatives in this area. Changes in HIV risk behaviours among IDUs, and awareness of HIV/AIDS and STI among them and their families will also be studied. In addition, community perceptions of the environmental security related to drug use will be studied.
Sample size calculations indicated the 162 drug injectors were required in each group; one group accessing HIV prevention programs and one group with little or no access to HIV prevention programs.
Professor Kate Dolan assisted the Substance Abuse Research Association (SARA) to undertake this study. SARA received ethical approval from Burma’s Ethical Review Committee of the Department of Health. This was the first time they had received such approval as pathways to obtain it did not exist in the country.
SARA was able to recruit a total of 280 HIV negative IDU clients; 136 were followed up at the six month period and 39 were followed up at the 12 month period.Clients who were imprisoned were interviewed in prison and had blood taken. SARA submitted their Preliminary Research Report on ‘A six-month prospective study on incidence of HIV among IDUs living in Lashio Township during 2010’ in 2011.
Some stakeholders viewed the current research with suspicion, thinking that SARA was conducting research in an attempt to discredit their operational abilities in conducting harm reduction interventions in Lashio. However, conducting advocacy and providing transparency in the research objectives and operational outcomes and not attempting to focus on a single organisation in the research helped in dispelling any misconceptions about the research.
Unfortunately funding was cut and SARA is trying to secure additional funding to complete the study.
In 2011 SARA submitted their preliminary research report , ‘A six-month prospective study on incidence of HIV among IDUs living in Lashio Township during 2010’.