An outbreak of HIV infection among people who inject drugs linked to injection of propofol in Taiwan

Yu Ching Huang, Yen Fang Huang, Min Hau Lin, Jyh Yuan Yang, Yu Hsin Liao, Hsiu Yun Lo, Carl Latkin, Kenrad E. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: The aim of this study was to report an HIV outbreak related to propofol-injection and the impact of regulating propofol on the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs (PWID). Methods: A retrospective cohort study of 252 PWID who were diagnosed with an HIV infection between 2014 and 2017 in Taiwan. The propofol information was collected by routine epidemic surveillance and interviews. We linked several national databases to collect other related factors, including methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) attendance and incarceration. The serums were tested for recent infection by the LAg-avidity EIA assay and relationship of the trains by the Phylogenetic tree analysis. Analyses were conducted using the R Surveillance package for retrospective modeling for outbreak detection. A multiple logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between propofol-injection and other related factors. Results: There were 28 cases reported with propofol-injection, all of which were reported in Central Taiwan. A total of 11 (50%) cases among 22 propofol-injectors with serums were recent infections, which were higher than that 33 (23.4%) of non-propofol group. The phylogenetic tree indicated that 6 propofol-injectors were grouped together with the same cluster in circular. The HIV epidemic curve among PWID revealed an outbreak of 82 in 2015, which then decreased to 43 in 2016 after propofol began to be regulated as a Schedule 4 controlled drug in August 2015. In a multiple logistic regression, attendance at methadone clinics was associated with a significantly higher risk for propofol-injection (adjusted OR = 2.43, 95% CI = 0.98-5.98), and HIV reported in the year 2015 was associated with an increased risk of propofol-injection (adjusted OR = 4, 95% CI = 1.08-14.86). Conclusions: Our data indicate that the government regulation of propofol as a controlled drug strategy was associated with significant reduction in the spread of HIV among PWID. authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0210210
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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