Evaluating Spillover Of HIV Knowledge From Study Participants To Their Network Members In A Stepped-wedge Behavioural Intervention In Tanzania

Abstract [from journal]

Objectives: We aim to describe the social network members of participants of a behavioural intervention, and examine how the effects of the intervention may spillover among network members.

Design: Secondary analysis of a step-wedge randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Change agents (CAs) were recruited from waiting rooms of HIV treatment facilities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and their network members (NMs) were recruited directly by CAs.

Participants: We enrolled 662 CAs in an HIV behavioural intervention. They, along with 710 of their NMs, completed baseline and follow-up interviews from 2011 to 2013.

Primary and secondary outcomes: The primary outcome of this study was change in NMs' HIV knowledge, and the secondary outcome was whether the NM was lost to follow-up.

Results: At baseline, many characteristics were different between NMs and CAs. We found a number of NM characteristics significantly associated with follow-up of NMs, particularly female gender (OR=1.64, 95% CI: 1.02 to 2.63) and HIV knowledge (OR=20.0, 95% CI: 3.70 to 125); only one CA variable was significantly associated with NM follow-up: having a private source of water (OR=2.17, 95% CI: 1.33 to 3.57). The 14.2% increase in NMs' HIV knowledge was largely due to CAs feeling empowered to pass on prior knowledge, rather than transmitting new knowledge to their NMs.

Conclusions: Characteristics of social network members of persons living with HIV persons living with HIV may play a role in study retention. Additionally, the HIV knowledge of these NMs increased largely as a function of CA participation in the intervention, suggesting that intervening among highly-connected individuals may maximise benefits to the potential population for whom spillover can occur.