Working With Persons Who Inject Drugs and Live in Rural Areas: Implications From China/Vietnam for the USA

Don C. Des Jarlais, Theodore M. Hammett, Binh Kieu, Yi Chen, Jonathan Feelemyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: To describe a small city/rural area HIV prevention project (the Cross Border Project) implemented in Ning Ming County, Guangxi Province, China, and Lang Son province, Vietnam, and consider its implications for addressing the opioid/heroin epidemic in small cities/rural areas in the USA. The description and the outcomes of the Cross Border project were taken from published reports, project records, and recent data provided by local public health authorities. Evaluation included serial cross-sectional surveys of people who inject drugs to assess trends in risk behaviors and HIV prevalence. HIV incidence was estimated from prevalence among new injectors and through BED testing. Recent Findings: The Cross Border project operated from 2002 to 2010. Key components of the project 2 included the use of peer outreach workers for HIV/AIDS education, distribution of sterile injection equipment and condoms, and collection of used injection equipment. The project had the strong support of local authorities, including law enforcement, and the general community. Significant reductions in risk behavior, HIV prevalence, and estimated HIV incidence were observed. Community support for the project was maintained. Activities have been continued and expanded since the project formally ended. Summary: The Cross Border project faced challenges similar to those occurring in the current opioid crisis in US small cities/rural areas: poor transportation, limited resources (particularly trained staff), poverty, and potential community opposition to helping people who use drugs. It should be possible to adapt the strategies used in the Cross Border project to small cities/rural areas in the US opioid epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-307
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent HIV/AIDS Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • China
  • Cross border
  • HIV
  • Persons who inject drugs
  • Vietnam
  • Prevalence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications
  • Male
  • Vietnam/epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • United States/epidemiology
  • Rural Population
  • Risk-Taking
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections/epidemiology
  • China/epidemiology
  • Health Education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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