Visavakum, P., Punsuwan, N., Manopaiboon, C., et al. The International Journal on Drug Policy (February 2016), pii: S0955-3959(16)00053-0. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.01.021.
From March to October 2010, the authors used respondent-driven sampling (a recommended methodology for sampling hard-to-reach populations) to describe the characteristics of people who inject drugs (PWID) in Songkhla and subsequently to help inform the development of evidence-based interventions and a more robust surveillance system. A total of 202 participants were interviewed and tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The authors found that the most-injected drug in the past month was heroin (injected by 90%), followed by methamphetamine (22%) and midazolam (2%). One-third (37%) of participants injected multiple drugs, and most (87%) had been injecting for more than two years. Moreover, 7 percent of participants reported sharing equipment during their last injection. Among those reporting having had sexual intercourse in the past three months, only 27 percent reported using a condom during their last sex act. HIV prevalence was high (22%). The authors also reported that 42 percent of participants were currently on methadone treatment. However, only a few received new needles (10%) and condoms (11%) from drop-in centers and/or peer outreach workers. Findings from this survey, the authors said, enhance understanding of the HIV epidemic among PWID in Songkhla, and the programmatic response to it.