Safety Counts: A Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention to Reduce HIV/Hepatitis Risks among Drug Users Who Are Not in Drug Treatment
Investigators: Michele Wood, Jonny Andía, Gricel Arredondo, Nan Corby, Jason Farrell, Camilla Harshbarger, Gary MacDonald, Sharon Novey, Kevin O’Connor, Fen Rhodes, Paul Simons, James Testaverde, & the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Publication Date: January 11, 2019
About This Product
The Safety Counts program is a proven intervention for out-of-treatment drug-using persons that will enable them to reduce their risk of becoming infected with or transmitting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis viruses such as hepatitis C. The Safety Counts intervention is appropriate for HIV-positive as well as HIV-negative drug users. Safety Counts is based on research that found this intervention to be effective in reducing high-risk sex and drug-use behaviors among both injection and noninjection drug users. As such, it is recommended for implementation by community-based organizations (CBOs) serving drug users.
Through structured group and individual activities, the intervention assists clients in setting personal risk reduction goals and developing specific steps for achieving them. In partnership with behavioral counselors and outreach workers, clients design and manage their personalized goals for reducing their risks of acquiring or transmitting HIV and viral hepatitis. Ongoing support for achieving risk reduction goals is provided through sustained contact with program staff, interactions with peers who are enrolled in the program, and exposure to the personal stories of other drug users in the local community who have been successful in reducing their own risks. Clients participate in the intervention for a period of 4 months.
This client-centered intervention benefits the client and the community. The research showed that the intervention reduced HIV risks by reducing drug use, increasing condom use, and increasing self-reported entry into drug treatment. Clients benefit from the strong outreach component of Safety Counts and from referrals to medical and social services. For HIV-positive clients, Safety Counts may allow them to deal with issues beyond substance use and HIV, such as addressing risk behaviors that can lead to contracting hepatitis and other infections. All clients learn how to make positive changes in their lives through setting specific goals and developing action steps to achieve their goals. These skills empower clients to take charge of their own risk behaviors, thereby benefiting themselves, their partners, their families, and their communities.
- 2 group sessions
- Individual counseling session
- Social events