A brief screening tool to assess the risk of contracting HIV infection among active injection drug users

Dawn K. Smith, Yi Pan, Charles E. Rose, Sherri L. Pals, Shruti H. Mehta, Gregory D. Kirk, Jeffrey H. Herbst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: To incorporate preexposure prophylaxis and other biomedical or intensive behavioral interventions into the care of injection drug users (IDUs), health care providers need validated, rapid, risk screening tools for identifying persons at highest risk of incident HIV infection. Methods: To develop and validate a brief screening tool for assessing the risk of contracting HIV (ARCH), we included behavioral and HIV test data from 1904 initially HIV-uninfected men and women enrolled and followed in the AIDS Linked to the Intravenous Experience prospective cohort study between 1988 and 2008. Using logistic regression analyses with generalized estimating equations, we identified significant predictors of incident HIV infection, then rescaled and summed their regression coefficients to create a risk score. Results: The final logistic regression model included age, engagement in a methadone maintenance program, and a composite injection risk score obtained by counting the number of the following 5 behaviors reported during the past 6 months: injection of heroin, injection of cocaine, sharing a cooker, sharing needles, or visiting a shooting gallery. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.720; possible scores on the index ranged from 0 to 100 and a score 46 or greater had a sensitivity of 86.2% and a specificity of 42.5%, appropriate for a screening tool. Discussion: We developed an easy to administer 7-question screening tool with a cutoff that is predictive of incident HIV infection in a large From the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) (DKS, YP, CER, SLP, JHH), National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA; and Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD (SHM, GDK). Received for publication July 11, 2014; accepted January 16, 2015. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of addiction medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • HIV
  • IDUs
  • PrEP
  • Risk
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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