Adjunct Assistant Professor
Peer-driven interventions can be effective in reducing HIV injection risk behaviors among people who inject drugs (PWID). We employed a causal mediation framework to examine the mediating role of recall of intervention knowledge in the relationship between a peer-driven intervention and subsequent self-reported HIV injection-related risk behavior among PWID in the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 037 study. For each intervention network, the index participant received training at baseline to become a peer educator, while non-index participants and all participants in the control networks received only HIV testing and counseling; recall of intervention knowledge was measured at the 6-month visit for each participant, and each participant was followed to ascertain HIV injection-related risk behaviors at the 12-month visit. We used inverse probability weighting to fit marginal structural models to estimate the total effect (TE) and controlled direct effect (CDE) of the intervention on the outcome. The proportion eliminated (PE) by intervening to remove mediation by the recall of intervention knowledge was computed. There were 385 participants (47% in intervention networks) included in the analysis. The TE and CDE risk ratios for the intervention were 0.47 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.28, 0.78] and 0.73 (95% CI: 0.26, 2.06) and the PE was 49%. Compared to participants in the control networks, the peer-driven intervention reduced the risk of HIV injection-related risk behavior by 53%. The mediating role of recall of intervention knowledge accounted for less than 50% of the total effect of the intervention, suggesting that other potential causal pathways between the intervention and the outcome, such as motivation and skill, self-efficacy, social norms and behavior modeling, should be considered in future studies.