Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
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London, Canada, experienced an HIV outbreak among persons who inject drugs despite widespread distribution of harm reduction equipment. Hydromorphone controlled-release (HMC) is the local opioid of choice. Injection drug preparation equipment (IDPE; ie, cookers and filters) is often shared and reused because of the perception that there is residual HMC in the IDPE after use. The purpose of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of HIV transmission in this context.Methods:Residual hydromorphone, (controlled-release or immediate-release), remaining in the IDPE, was measured with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, in conditions replicating persons who inject drug use. HIV was added to IDPE in the presence HMC, hydromorphone immediate-release, or microcrystalline cellulose (an HMC drug excipient). HIV viral persistence was measured by reverse transcriptase activity and infectivity of indicator Tzm-bl cells.Results:Forty-five percent of HMC remained in the IDPE after the first aspiration of solution, with no change after heating. HIV persistence and infectivity were preserved in the presence of HMC, and less so with microcrystalline cellulose. Heating the IDPE rapidly inactivated HIV.Conclusions:Sharing of IDPE is a potential means of HIV transmission. HMC encourages IDPE sharing because of the residual drug in the IDPE, and the HMC excipients preserve HIV viability. Heating IDPE before aspiration of the opioid may be a harm reduction strategy.