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Amphetamine-type stimulants and HIV infection among men who have sex with men: implications on HIV research and prevention from a systematic review and meta-analysis

Nga Thi Thu Vu, Lisa Maher, Iryna Zablotska

Abstract


Introduction: HIV infections and the use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) among men who have sex with men (MSM) have been increasing internationally, but the role of ATS use as a co-factor for HIV infection remains unclear. We aimed to summarize the association between ATS use and HIV infection among MSM.

Methods: We conducted a systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, GLOBAL HEALTH and PsycINFO for relevant English, peer-reviewed articles of quantitative studies published between 1980 and 25 April 2013. Pooled estimates of the association – prevalence rate ratios (PRR, cross-sectional studies), odds ratio (OR, case-control studies) and hazard ratio (HR, longitudinal studies), with 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) – were calculated using random-effects models stratified by study design and ATS group (meth/amphetamines vs. ecstasy). We assessed the existence of publication bias in funnel plots and checked for sources of heterogeneity using meta-regression and subgroup analysis.

Results: We identified 6710 article titles, screened 1716 abstracts and reviewed 267 full text articles. A total of 35 publications were eligible for data abstraction and meta-analysis, resulting in 56 records of ATS use. Most studies (31/35) were conducted in high-income countries. Published studies used different research designs, samples and measures of ATS use. The pooled association between meth/amphetamine use and HIV infection was statistically significant in all three designs (PRR=1.86; 95% CI: 1.57–2.17; OR=2.73; 95% CI: 2.16–3.46 and HR=3.43; 95% CI: 2.98–3.95, respectively, for cross-sectional, case-control and longitudinal studies). Ecstasy use was not associated with HIV infection in cross-sectional studies (PRR=1.15; 95% CI: 0.88–1.49; OR=3.04; 95% CI: 1.29–7.18 and HR=2.48; 95% CI: 1.42–4.35, respectively, for cross-sectional, case-control and longitudinal studies). Results in cross-sectional studies were highly heterogeneous due to issues with ATS measurement and different sampling frames.

Conclusions: While meth/amphetamine use was significantly associated with HIV infection among MSM in high-income countries in all study designs, evidence of the role of ecstasy in HIV infection was lacking in cross-sectional studies. Cross-sectional study design, measurement approaches and source populations may also be important modifiers of the strength and the direction of associations. Event-specific measure of individual drug is required to establish temporal relationship between ATS use and HIV infection. HIV prevention programmes targeting MSM should consider including interventions designed to address meth/amphetamine use.

Keywords: HIV; amphetamine-type stimulants; MSM; systematic review; meta-analysis; risk behaviour; meth/amphetamine; ecstasy.

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(Published: 2 February 2015)

Citation: Nga Thi Thu Vu et al. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2015, 18:19273

http://www.jiasociety.org/index.php/jias/article/view/19273 | http://dx.doi.org/10.7448/IAS.18.1.19273




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