Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of a couple-based integrated HIV/HCV and overdose prevention intervention on non-fatal and fatal overdose and overdose prevention behaviors among people who use heroin or other opioids in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Methods: We selected 479 participants who reported lifetime heroin or opioid use from a sample of 600 participants (300 couples) enrolled in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted between May 2009 and February 2013. Participants were randomized to either (1) a 5-session couple-based HIV/HCV and overdose prevention intervention condition or (2) a 5-session Wellness Promotion and overdose prevention comparison condition. We used multilevel mixed-effects model with modified Poisson regression to estimate effects of the intervention as risk ratios (RR) and the corresponding 95% CIs.
Results: About one-fifth (21.9%) of the sample reported that they had experienced an opioid overdose in the past 6 months at baseline. At the 12-month follow-up, both the intervention and comparison conditions reported significant reductions in non-fatal overdose and injection heroin/opioid use and significant increases in drug treatment attendance and naloxone use to prevent death from overdose. However, we found no differences between the study arms on any of these outcomes. There were three intervention condition participants (1.3%), compared to seven comparison condition participants (2.9%) who died from opioid overdose during the 12-month follow up period although this difference was not significant.
Discussion: There were no significant conditions on any outcomes: both conditions showed promising effects of reducing non-fatal overdose and overdose risks. Integrating overdose prevention into a couplebased HIV/HCV intervention may be an efficient strategy to target the syndemic of opioid overdose, HIV and HCV in Kazakhstan.