“Maintaining HIV and HCV prevention and care for people who inject drugs despite COVID‐19 in Hai Phong, Vietnam”

Hoang Thi Giang, Nguyen Quang Duc, Jean Pierre Molès, Vu Hai Vinh, Nicolas Nagot, Nham Thi Tuyet Thanh, Duong Thi Huong, Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, Pham Minh Khue, Le Sao Mai, Nguyen Thu Trang, Pham Thi Ngoc, Catherine Quillet, Jonathan Feelemyer, Roselyne Vallo, Laurent Michel, Don Des Jarlais, Didier Laureillard, Delphine Rapoud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: After the emergence of COVID-19, a one-month strict lockdown was imposed in April 2020 in Vietnam, followed by lighter social distancing restrictions over the year. We investigated whether those measures affected people who inject drugs (PWID) in terms of risk behaviors for HIV and HCV and access to prevention and care in the city of Haiphong, a historic hotspot for HIV and drug use. Methodology: We carried out a ‘before-after’ study from 2019 to 2020 using respondent-driven sampling method to enroll PWID. They were interviewed on their socioeconomic situation, drug use and sexual behaviors, relations to care services and tested for drugs and methadone in the urine, for HIV, HCV, and HIV plasma viral load when HIV-positive. Changes following the restrictions were assessed by comparing ‘before’ to ‘after’ data. Results: 780 PWID were enrolled. Mean age was 44 years; 94% were male. All were actively injecting heroin ‘before’, versus 56% ‘after’. Among those, frequency of consumption decreased from 24 to 17 days per month. No changes were observed in the frequency and practices of methamphetamine smoking. The proportion of PWID on MMT increased from 68.7% to 75.3%, and that of PWID engaging in risky behaviors related to drug injection decreased from 6.0% to 1.5%. No HIV seroconversions were observed; HCV incidence was 2.6/100 person-years (95% CI [0.7–6.7]). 9% of PWID reported a monthly income of less than 130USD ‘before’ versus 53% ‘after’. Conclusion: The case of Hai Phong shows that it is possible, during times of COVID-19 pandemic, to maintain access to harm reduction and care and to prevent HIV and HCV transmission among PWID in a resource-limited setting where severe social distancing restrictions are implemented. Further research is needed to assess the consequences of long-term economic difficulties and the impact of actual spread of SARS-Cov2 that has since emerged in Haiphong.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103870
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Hai Phong
  • Lockdown
  • People who injects drug
  • Vietnam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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