Voucher Incentives Improve Linkage to and Retention in Care Among HIV-Infected Drug Users in Chennai, India

Solomon, Sunil Suhas; Srikrishnan, Aylur K.; Vasudevan, Canjeevaram K.; Anand, Santhanam; Kumar, Muniratnam Suresh; Balakrishnan, Pachamuthu; Mehta, Shruti H.; Solomon, Suniti; Lucas, Gregory M.
August 2014
Clinical Infectious Diseases;Aug2014, Vol. 59 Issue 4, p589
Academic Journal
Modest voucher incentives were associated with significantly better linkage to and retention in care but not with virologic suppression among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected drug users in Chennai, India, a population with high HIV disease burden and low access to antiretroviral therapy.Background. Drug users (DUs), a population that accounts for some of the fastest-growing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemics globally, lag behind other populations with regard to HIV-related outcomes. We evaluated the role of voucher incentives on linkage and retention in care among DUs in India.Methods. In this randomized clinical trial, 120 DUs who were aged ≥18 years, HIV-infected, antiretroviral therapy (ART) naive, and ART eligible and who reported drug use in the prior month were randomized to incentive (INC) or control (CTL) conditions for 12 months. Participants randomized to the INC arm received incentives (redeemable for food/household goods) ranging in value from USD4 to USD8 for achieving prespecified targets (eg, ART initiation, visits to ART center). Subjects in the CTL group could win vouchers in prize-bowl drawings, but HIV care behaviors were not incentivized. The primary endpoint was time to ART initiation.Results. Sixty participants each were randomized to the INC and CTL arms between December 2009 and September 2010. Participants in the INC arm were more likely to visit the government ART center (49 vs 33; P = .002); 27 participants in the INC and 16 participants in the CTL arm initiated ART (P = .04; hazard ratio for ART = 2.33 [95% confidence interval, 1.15–4.73]). Participants in the INC arm also had significantly more visits to the ART center (median number of visits, 8 vs 3.5; P = .005). However, no difference in viral suppression was observed.Conclusions. Modest voucher incentives improved linkage to and retention in HIV care, but did not significantly impact viral suppression among DUs in India, a disenfranchised and difficult-to-treat population.Clinical Trials Registration. NCT01031745.


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