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2.  Improving HIV/STD Prevention in the Care of Persons Living with HIV Through a National Training Program 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2014;28(1):15-21.
Persons living with HIV (PLWH) are living longer, remaining sexually active, and may continue risky sexual behaviors. As such, it is crucial for providers to ask all HIV-positive patients about behaviors related to HIV transmission and STD acquisition. The “Ask, Screen, Intervene” (ASI) curriculum was developed to increase provider knowledge, skills, and motivation to incorporate risk assessment and prevention services into the care of PLWH. The ASI curriculum was delivered to 2558 HIV-care providers at 137 sites between September 30, 2007 and December 31, 2010. Immediately post-training, participants self-reported significant gains in perceived confidence to demonstrate ASI knowledge and skills (p<0.001) and 89% agreed they would update practices as a result of the training. Three to six months post-training, 320 participants who served PLWH or supervised HIV-care providers self-reported more frequently performing ASI skills (p<0.001), and 71% self-reported greater perceived confidence than before training to perform those skills (p<0.001). Limitations include self-reported measures and a 30% response rate to the 3–6 month follow-up survey. Our findings suggest that a well-coordinated training program can reach a national audience of HIV-care providers, significantly increase self-reported capacity to incorporate HIV/STD prevention into the care of PLWH, and increase implementation of national recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3894675  PMID: 24428796
3.  The Spectrum of Undiagnosed Hepatitis C Virus Infection in a US HIV Clinic 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2014;28(1):4-9.
United States guidelines endorse one-time HCV antibody screening at HIV diagnosis. Rescreening HCV-seronegative patients on a regular basis is still not policy, although HIV-infected persons have reasonably substantial HCV incidence. We evaluated routine risk factor-independent HCV antibody re-testing in a Rhode Island HIV clinic. We instituted annual HCV antibody testing for HCV-seronegative patients who had not been rescreened in a year or more. Testing based on clinical suspicion continued. We conducted a chart review of new antibody-positive cases in the first year of rescreening, July 2006 to June 2007. Of 245 rescreened patients, 11 (4.5%) seroconverted. Five (45%) were female. Median time between last negative and first positive result was 32 months (range 8–98 months). Six (55%) had documented risk factors and 6 (55%) elevated ALT (>45 IU/L) between antibody tests; none prompted re-testing. One seroconverter died of hepatocellular carcinoma 3.7 years after HCV diagnosis. A twelfth was rescreened for suspected acute HCV based on ALT of 515 IU/L. He had newly detectable HCV RNA then seroconversion, and achieved SVR following 6 months of treatment in the acute phase for genotype 1 infection. Incident HCV is not uncommon among HIV-infected patients in care. Rescreening identified undiagnosed HCV in this population. HCV RNA should be checked promptly in HCV-seronegative persons with ALT elevation. We observed consequences of late diagnosis (hepatocellular carcinoma) and benefits of early diagnosis (cure with treatment of acute HCV). Adding annual rescreening to the Ryan White Program would facilitate earlier identification of undiagnosed HCV and create an instant widespread surveillance system, providing HCV incidence data.
PMCID: PMC3894677  PMID: 24428794
4.  EVOLUTION—Taking Charge and Growing Stronger: The Design, Acceptability, and Feasibility of a Secondary Prevention Empowerment Intervention for Young Women Living with HIV 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2014;28(1):33-42.
In the United States, youth of 13–24 years account for nearly a quarter of all new HIV infections, with almost 1000 young men and women being infected per month. Young women account for 20% of those new infections. This article describes the design, feasibility, and acceptability of a secondary prevention empowerment intervention for young women living with HIV entitled EVOLUTION: Young Women Taking Charge and Growing Stronger. The nine session intervention aimed to reduce secondary transmission by enhancing social and behavioral skills and knowledge pertaining to young women's physical, social, emotional, and sexual well-being, while addressing the moderating factors such as sexual inequality and power imbalances. Process evaluation data suggest that EVOLUTION is a highly acceptable and feasible intervention for young women living with HIV. Participants reported enjoying both the structure and comprehensive nature of the intervention. Both participants and interventionists reported that the intervention was highly relevant to the lives of young women living with HIV since it not only provided opportunities for them to broaden their knowledge and risk reduction skills in HIV, but it also addressed important areas that impact their daily lives such as stressors, relationships, and their emotional and social well-being. Thus, this study demonstrates that providing a gender-specific, comprehensive group-based empowerment intervention for young women living with HIV appears to be both feasible and acceptable.
PMCID: PMC3894678  PMID: 24575438
5.  Prevalence and Outcomes of Recycling NNRTIs Despite Documented NNRTI Resistance in HIV-Infected Children and Youth 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2014;28(1):10-14.
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are commonly used in pediatric patients; however, rapid development of resistance, due to non-adherence and cross-resistance, results in their discontinuation and limits their recycling. We evaluated the clinical experience of recycling NNRTIs despite documented NNRTI resistance (NNRTI-R), and examined virologic and CD4 cell count outcomes among participants enrolled in Longitudinal Epidemiologic Study to Gain Insight into HIV/AIDS in Children and Youth (LEGACY), a national HIV-infected pediatric cohort. We conducted a retrospective analysis of LEGACY participants with major NNRTI-R. Using chi-square analyses and logistic regression, we examined demographic and clinical factors associated with prescription of NNRTIs despite documented NNRTI-R, and associated changes in plasma HIV RNA viral load and CD4 cell counts. Sixteen of 133 (12%) participants with documented NNRTI-R re-started NNRTIs for a median of 370 days (IQR 105–919) with a median 402 days (IQR 70–841) between documentation of NNRTI-R to NNRTI recycling. Participants recycling NNRTIs were less likely to have documented past non-adherence (40.0% vs. 69.2%; p=0.02). Among twelve patients with virologic data at 24 (±8) weeks; seven (58.3%) experienced virologic suppression while on the recycled NNRTI-based regimens. Of the five who failed to suppress, three with subsequent genotyping developed additional NNRTI-R mutations compromising higher generation NNRTIs. While NNRTI's were recycled in only a small fraction of LEGACY participants harboring NNRTI-R mutations, such recycling increased the risk of inducing further resistance mutations that compromised use of higher generation NNRTIs.
PMCID: PMC3942679  PMID: 24428795
6.  Anal Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Prevalences and Factors Associated with Abnormal Anal Cytology in HIV-Infected Women in an Urban Cohort from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2015;29(1):4-12.
Identifying factors, including human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes, associated with abnormal anal cytology in HIV-infected women have implications for anal squamous cell cancer (SCC) prevention in HIV-infected women. Anal and cervical samples were collected for cytology, and tested for high-(HR-HPV) and low-risk HPV (LR-HPV) genotypes in a cross-sectional analysis of the IPEC Women's HIV Cohort (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Multivariate log-binomial regression models estimated prevalence ratios for factors associated with abnormal anal cytology [≥atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance, (ASC-US)]. Characteristics of the 863 participants included: median age 42 years, 57% non-white, 79% current CD4+ T-cell count >350 cells/mm3, 53% HIV-1 viral load <50 copies/mL, median ART duration 5.8 years. Fifty-one percent of anal specimens contained ≥1 HR-HPV genotype; 31% had abnormal anal cytology [14% ASC-US, 11% low-grade squamous intra-epithelial lesion, (LSIL); 2% atypical squamous cells-cannot exclude high-grade SIL (ASC-H); 4% high-grade SIL/cancer (HSIL+)]. In multivariate analysis, cervical LSIL+, nadir CD4+ T-cell count ≤50 cells/mm3, HIV-1 viral load ≥50 copies/mL, and anal HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 33, 45, 52, 56, and 58 were associated with ≥anal ASC-US (p<0.05). Abnormal anal cytology and HR-HPV prevalences were high. HIV-infected women with cervical LSIL+, low nadir CD4+ counts, or detectable HIV-1 viral loads should be a particular focus for enhanced anal SCC screening efforts.
PMCID: PMC4281876  PMID: 25361401
7.  Easing the Transition of HIV-Infected Adolescents to Adult Care 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(12):692-696.
The past two decades have witnessed dramatic reductions in HIV-related morbidity and mortality following the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) for infants and children. Improved therapeutic outcomes have changed the face of the HIV epidemic and with it the needs of patients and families. Consequently, many perinatally- and behaviorally-infected adolescents are now transitioning to adult care. What follows is a brief review and commentary concerning original research, reviews, and clinical guidelines describing challenges and best practices in facilitating care transitions for HIV-infected youth to adult care. Over 25,000 HIV-infected US youth aged 13–24 years will require transition to adult care within the next decade. Transition planning must address issues of cognitive development and mental health, medication adherence, sexuality, reproductive, and gender identity, socioeconomic and health insurance status, stigma and disclosure, disrupted relationships with pediatric care providers, and communication. Clinical experience with HIV and other chronic illnesses supports a multidisciplinary, developmentally-sensitive approach to meeting the challenges inherent in care transition that begins early and is monitored with regular evaluation and revision. Specific clinical recommendations have been made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute.
PMCID: PMC3868277  PMID: 24073595
8.  The Reproductive Health Behaviors of HIV-Infected Young Women in the United States: A Literature Review 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(12):669-680.
HIV-infected young women in the United States have important reproductive health needs that are made more complex by their HIV status. We searched Pubmed and relevant bibliographies to identify 32 articles published from 2001 to July 2012 that described the prevalence, correlates, and characteristics of the sexual activity, relationships, pregnancy intentions, HIV status disclosure, and contraceptive and condom use among US HIV-infected adolescents and young women. Our synthesis of those articles found that, like youth not infected with HIV, substantial proportions of HIV-infected youth were sexually active, and most sought romantic or sexual relationships, though their serostatus may have affected the pace of physical and emotional intimacy. Disclosure was difficult, and large proportions of HIV-infected youth had not disclosed their serostatus to recent partners. A few studies suggest that most HIV-infected young women hoped to have children in the future, but many wanted to avoid pregnancy until later. Only one study described contraceptive use among this population in detail and found that condoms were a primary method of contraception. The results point to substantial gaps in published research, particularly in the areas of pregnancy intentions and contraceptive use. Much more needs to be done in research and health services to better understand and meet the complex health needs of HIV-infected young women.
PMCID: PMC3868287  PMID: 24320012
9.  Early Warning Indicators for First-Line Virologic Failure Independent of Adherence Measures in a South African Urban Clinic 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(12):657-668.
We sought to develop individual-level Early Warning Indicators (EWI) of virologic failure (VF) for clinicians to use during routine care complementing WHO population-level EWI. A case-control study was conducted at a Durban clinic. Patients after≥5 months of first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) were defined as cases if they had VF [HIV-1 viral load (VL)>1000 copies/mL] and controls (2:1) if they had VL≤1000 copies/mL. Pharmacy refills and pill counts were used as adherence measures. Participants responded to a questionnaire including validated psychosocial and symptom scales. Data were also collected from the medical record. Multivariable logistic regression models of VF included factors associated with VF (p<0.05) in univariable analyses. We enrolled 158 cases and 300 controls. In the final multivariable model, male gender, not having an active religious faith, practicing unsafe sex, having a family member with HIV, not being pleased with the clinic experience, symptoms of depression, fatigue, or rash, low CD4 counts, family recommending HIV care, and using a TV/radio as ART reminders (compared to mobile phones) were associated with VF independent of adherence measures. In this setting, we identified several key individual-level EWI associated with VF including novel psychosocial factors independent of adherence measures.
PMCID: PMC3868291  PMID: 24320011
10.  Prevalence, Characteristics, Management, and Outcome of Pulmonary Tuberculosis in HIV-Infected Children in the TREAT Asia Pediatric HIV Observational Database (TApHOD) 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(12):649-656.
A multicenter, retrospective, observational study was conducted to determine prevalence, characteristics, management, and outcome of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in Asian HIV-infected children in the TREAT Asia Pediatric HIV Observational Database (TApHOD). Data on PTB episodes diagnosed during the period between 12 months before antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation and December 31, 2009 were extracted. A total of 2678 HIV-infected children were included in TApHOD over a 13-year period; 457 developed PTB, giving a period prevalence of 17.1% (range 5.7–33.0% per country). There were a total of 484 PTB episodes; 27 children had 2 episodes each. There were 21 deaths (4.3%). One third of episodes (n=175/484) occurred after ART initiation at a median of 14.1 months (interquartile range [IQR] 2.5–28.8 months). The median (IQR) CD4+ values were 9.0% (3.0–16.0%) and 183.5 (37.8–525.0) cells/mm3 when PTB was diagnosed. Most episodes (n=424/436, 97.3%) had abnormal radiographic findings compatible with PTB, whereas half (n=267/484, 55.2%) presented with clinical characteristics of PTB. One third of those tested (n=42/122, 34.4%) had bacteriological evidence of PTB. Of the 156 episodes (32.2%) that were accompanied with extrapulmonary TB, pleuritis was the most common manifestation (81.4%). After treatment completion, most episodes (n=396/484, 81.9%) were recorded as having positive outcomes (cured, treatment completed and child well, and improvement). The prevalence of PTB among Asian HIV-infected children in our cohort was high. Children with persistent immunosuppression remain vulnerable to PTB even after ART initiation.
PMCID: PMC3868296  PMID: 24206012
11.  Prospective Cohort Study of the Impact of Antiretroviral Therapy on Employment Outcomes Among HIV Clients in Uganda 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(12):707-714.
This study evaluates the impact of antiretroviral treatment (ART) on employment-related outcomes using prospective, longitudinal analysis. Starting in January 2008, 602 treatment-naïve clients in one rural clinic and in one clinic in the capital Kampala were interviewed about their medical history, and psychosocial and socioeconomic adjustment at baseline and at months 6 and 12. Half of the sample was eligible to receive ART, while the other half was also in HIV care, but not yet eligible for ART, therefore providing a comparison group that is similar to the treatment group in that its members are HIV-positive and have made the decision to enroll in HIV care. We found improvements in general health, reduction in the incidence of pain and health interfering with work, as well as improvements in work-related self-efficacy for both groups over time, but significantly more so for the group receiving ART treatment. At baseline, less than half of the people in the ART group worked, but after 6 months more than three quarters of them were working, surpassing the fraction of people working in the control group after 1 year. Another key finding of the study was the importance of mental health as a key mediator for employment-related outcomes. These data indicate that ART clients experience greater improvements compared to pre-ART clients, and not only with regard to general health, but also in restoring confidence in their ability to work, as well as actual work status.
PMCID: PMC3868298  PMID: 24320014
12.  Antiretroviral Treatment Interruption and Loss to Follow-Up in Two HIV Cohorts in Australia and Asia: Implications for ‘Test and Treat’ Prevention Strategy 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(12):681-691.
Both antiretroviral treatment interruption (TI) and cessation have been strongly discouraged since 2006. We describe the incidence, duration, and risk factors for TI and loss-to-follow-up (LTFU) rates across 13 countries. All 4689 adults (76% men) in two large HIV cohorts in Australia and Asia commencing combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) to March 2010 were included. TI was defined by ART cessation >30 days, then recommencement, and loss to follow-up (LTFU) by no visit since 31 March 2009 and no record of death. Survival analysis and Poisson regression methods were used. With median follow-up of 4.4 years [interquartile range (IQR):2.1–6.5], TI incidence was 6.7 per 100 person years (PY) (95% CI:6.1–7.3) pre-2006, falling to 2.0 (95% CI:1.7–2.2) from 2006 (p<0.01). LTFU incidence was 3.5 per 100 PY (95% CI:3.1–3.9) pre-2006, and 4.1 (95% CI:3.5–4.9) from 2006 (p=0.22). TIs accounted for 6.4% of potential time on ART pre-2006 and 1.2% from 2006 (p<0.01), and LTFU 4.7% of potential time on ART pre-2006 and 6.6% from 2006 (p<0.01). Median TI duration was 163 (IQR: 75–391) days pre-2006 and 118 (IQR: 67–270) days from 2006 (p<0.01). Independent risk factors for the first TI were: Australia HIV Observational Database participation; ART initiation pre-2006; ART regimens including stavudine and didanosine; three nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors; ≥7 pills per day; and ART with food restrictions (fasting or with food). In conclusion, since 2006, 7.8% of patients had significant time off treatment, which has the potential to compromise any ‘test and treat’ policy as during the interruption viral load will rebound and increase the risk of transmission.
PMCID: PMC3868400  PMID: 24320013
13.  HIV Testing Among Immigrant Sexual and Gender Minority Latinos in a US Region with Little Historical Latino Presence 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(11):628-636.
Immigrant sexual and gender minority Latinos constitute a vulnerable subgroup about which little is known. We examined HIV testing among 190 such Latinos recruited via respondent-driven sampling in North Carolina, a state with little historical Latino presence but recent, rapid growth of this population. Sixty-eight percent reported an HIV test in the past year, and nearly half reported multiple HIV tests. Concern for their health was the most frequent reason for seeking an HIV test. Reasons not to get tested included fear of a positive test, previous HIV tests, worry that test results might be reported to the government, and concerns that others might treat the person differently if found to be HIV positive. In a multiple variable model, correlates of HIV testing included age, educational attainment, HIV stigma, comfort with sexual orientation, and previous STD diagnoses. Among participants reporting anal sex, consistent condom use was associated with HIV testing, suggesting that protective behaviors may co-occur. These findings may inform the development of more efficacious interventions to increase HIV testing among this subgroup.
PMCID: PMC3820121  PMID: 24138487
14.  Factors Associated with Smoking in HIV-Infected Patients and Potential Barriers to Cessation 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(11):604-612.
Smoking is common in patients with HIV and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. With the goal of targeting future cessation interventions, we sought to identify factors associated with smoking status, readiness and confidence in cessation, and success in quitting. As part of a larger study in New York City assessing predictors of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), we enrolled HIV-infected subjects at least 35 years of age without known asthma or COPD. Current smokers received detailed tobacco history, and smoking status was assessed by chart review at 3 and 6 months post-enrollment. Two hundred subjects were enrolled (29% current smokers, 31.5% never smokers, 39.5% former smokers, mean age of 49, 84% male, 64% had AIDS, and 97% were receiving antiretroviral therapy). Current smokers had higher unemployment and increased rates of other substance use than former smokers or never smokers. In multivariate analysis, being unemployed and having used inhalant drugs were associated with current smoking. Substance abuse history was not correlated with readiness to quit or patient estimated cessation. Lower education was associated with decreased readiness to quit. Follow-up smoking status for baseline current smokers was available for 47/58 enrollees at 6 months; 4 (9%) stopped smoking completely, and 17 (36%) decreased the number of packs-per-day. Smoking and concomitant substance abuse is common in HIV, and special attention should be given to this issue, in addition to a patient's readiness to quit, when implementing tobacco cessation protocols, especially in busy urban HIV care centers.
PMCID: PMC3820122  PMID: 24138488
15.  A Randomized Controlled Trial to Assess Safety, Tolerability, and Antepartum Viral Load with Increased Lopinavir/Ritonavir Dosage in Pregnancy 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(11):589-595.
HIV mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is significantly reduced if antepartum viral load (apVL) is<50 copies/mL. Pharmacokinetic studies suggest increasing the dosage of lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r) in pregnancy. It is important to assess tolerance, safety, and rate of patients presenting a apVL<50 copies/mL when treating with increased dose of LPV/r during pregnancy. Confirmed HIV-infected pregnant women with a fetus at a gestational age of 14–33 weeks were randomly assigned to receive LPV/r 400/100 or 600/150 mg b.i.d. plus two nucleoside analogues (NRTIs). Treatment was discontinued in the case of alanine transaminase (ALT) of grade III elevation or higher, glucose, or triglycerides. Thirty-two women were randomized to the LPV/r 400/100 mg dose, and 31 women were randomized to the 600/150 mg dose. Overall, 9.4% of the women receiving the conventional dose, and 17.2% receiving the increased dose, discontinued treatment because of adverse events (p=0.29). The rates of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, laboratory abnormalities, preterm delivery, and low birth weight were similar in both groups. There were no cases of HIV MTCT. Among the women with a baseline VL>50 copies/mL assigned to the conventional dose group, 45% (95% confidence interval [CI] 62.5–27.5%) had a apVL>50 copies/mL compared with 10.5% (95% CI 21.6–0.6%) of those assigned to the increased dose group (p=0.01). There was no significant difference found for the patients with a baseline VL<50 copies/mL. In pregnant women with a baseline VL>50 copies/mL, it may be warranted to initiate LPV/r dosing at 600/150 mg, whereas the conventional dose is sufficient for pregnant women with a baseline VL<50 copies/mL.
PMCID: PMC3820124  PMID: 24138537
16.  The Impact of Anticipated HIV Stigma on Delays in HIV Testing Behaviors: Findings from a Community-Based Sample of Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transgender Women in New York City 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(11):621-627.
Treatment as prevention (TaSP) is a critical component of biomedical interventions to prevent HIV transmission. However, its success is predicated on testing and identifying undiagnosed individuals to ensure linkage and retention in HIV care. Research has examined the impact of HIV-associated stigma on HIV-positive individuals, but little work has explored how anticipated HIV stigma–the expectation of rejection or discrimination against by others in the event of seroconversion—may serve as a barrier to HIV testing behaviors. This study examined the association between anticipated stigma and HIV testing behaviors among a sample of 305 men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women living in New York City. Participants' mean age was 33.0; 65.5% were racial/ethnic minority; and 50.2% earned <$20,000 per year. Overall, 32% of participants had not had an HIV test in the past 6 months. Anticipated stigma was negatively associated with risk perception. In multivariate models, anticipated stigma, risk perception, and younger age were significant predictors of HIV testing behaviors. Anti-HIV stigma campaigns targeting HIV-negative individuals may have the potential to significantly impact social norms around HIV testing and other biomedical strategies, such pre-exposure prophylaxis, at a critical moment for the redefinition of HIV prevention.
PMCID: PMC3820140  PMID: 24138486
17.  The Influence of Individual, Partner, and Relationship Factors on HIV Testing in Adolescents 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(11):637-645.
Early identification of HIV by increasing testing is a national priority; however, little is known about HIV testing behaviors in high school age adolescents. We examined the association of individual, partner, and relationship factors with HIV testing using a computer-assisted survey administered from 2003 to 2006 in a community sample of 980 sexually active 14- to 17-year-olds (56% female, 55% Latino, 25% African American) living in a jurisdiction with a high AIDS burden. Twenty percent reported their first sexual encounter as having occurred when they were <13 years of age, 33% had had four or more lifetime sexual partners, 21% reported high partner HIV-risk behavior, and 428 (44%) had been tested for HIV. In our final regression model, independent associations with HIV testing included being female (OR=1.68 [1.23–2.30]), older (OR=1.41 [1.21–1.65]), and having had four or more lifetime sexual partners (OR=2.24 [1.64–3.05]). The strongest independent predictor of HIV testing was having high HIV-related partner communication (OR=3.70 [2.77–4.94]). Being in a serious committed relationship (OR=1.39 [1.02–1.87]) was also independently associated with HIV testing, whereas reporting high worry about HIV/AIDS (OR=0.53 [0.40–0.71]) was independently negatively associated with HIV testing. High HIV/AIDS knowledge, high partner HIV risk behavior, and young age at first sexual encounter were not associated with testing. These findings suggest that, for high school aged adolescents, optimal strategies to promote HIV testing should look beyond increasing HIV/AIDS knowledge and identifying individual risk behaviors to also considering the role of partners and relationships and their influence on testing behavior.
PMCID: PMC3820142  PMID: 24134644
18.  Impact of Antiretroviral Therapy on Quality of Life in HIV-Infected Southeast Asian Children in the PREDICT Study 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(11):596-603.
Quality of life (QOL) is an important antiretroviral treatment (ART) outcome. We compared QOL among 299 Thai and Cambodian children ages 1–12 years-old, CD4 15–24% randomized to early (ART at week 0, N=149) versus deferred groups (ART when at CD4 <15%, N=150) and also compared with QOL data from age-matched healthy controls (N=275). Primary caregivers completed PACTG QOL questionnaires at week 0 and every 24 weeks until 144 weeks. Children were enrolled during March 2006 to September 2008. Mean (SD) age of children was 6.3 (2.8) years, 58% were female, 60% were Thai, %CDC N:A:B:C was 2:62:36:0%. During 144 weeks, all children in the early-group and 69 (46%) of deferred-group children started ART. There was no significant difference of QOL scores between treatment groups at baseline (all p>0.05) and at week 144 (all p>0.05). By multivariate analysis, the early-group had higher QOL score changes in five domains, including health perception (p=0.04), physical resilience (p=0.02), psychosocial well-being (p=0.04), social and role functioning (p<0.01), and symptoms (p=0.01) compared to the deferred group. QOL of HIV-infected children in both groups were lower than healthy control in all 7 domains at baseline (all p<0.05) and 5 of 7 domains at weeks 144 (p<0.01). In conclusion, no significant difference of QOL scores between treatment groups. Early ART commencement associated with greater increase of QOL scores over 144 weeks. QOL scores in HIV-infected children were lower than healthy controls.
PMCID: PMC3820144  PMID: 24191673
19.  Barriers to HIV Care for Women of Color Living in the Southeastern US Are Associated with Physical Symptoms, Social Environment, and Self-Determination 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(11):613-620.
HIV-infected women of color (WOC) face particular barriers to accessing HIV medical care. To understand the impact of physical symptoms, social support, and self-determination on barriers to care, we interviewed HIV-infected women of color. HIV-infected WOC (N=141), attending an academic infectious disease clinic for HIV care in North Carolina, completed the Barriers to Care scale and were categorized as reporting a history of low (less than four of eleven barriers) or high (five or more) barriers to care. Binomial regression was used to estimate prevalence ratios and risk differences of reported barriers to care and its correlates such as depression, anxiety, illness-severity, psychological abuse, social support, treatment-specific social support, and self-determination (autonomy, relatedness, competency). A lower risk of reporting five or more barriers to care was associated with higher levels of autonomy (PR=0.93, 95% CI: 0.89, 0.96), relatedness (PR=0.92, 95% CI: 0.89, 0.94), competency (PR=0.93, 95% CI: 0.87, 0.98), and social support (PR=0.24, 95% CI: 0.81, 0.81). Depression, illness severity, and psychological abuse were associated with a greater risk of having five or more barriers to care. There are multiple social and psychological factors that contribute to perceived barriers to HIV care among WOC in the southeastern USA. Interventions that promote social support and increase individual self-determination have the potential to improve access to HIV care for WOC.
PMCID: PMC3871492  PMID: 24138485
20.  Autonomic Neuropathy in HIV is Unrecognized and Associated with Medical Morbidity 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(10):539-543.
Autonomic dysfunction is common in HIV. However, its clinical impact is not well understood and its protean symptoms make it difficult to diagnose. We sought to determine: (1) whether autonomic neuropathy is associated with morbidity and predicted mortality in HIV as measured by the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) index; and (2) if healthcare providers recognize the diagnosis of autonomic neuropathy. Data were obtained from 102 HIV-infected adults enrolled in a prevalence study of autonomic dysfunction from 2011–2012. Participants were predominantly minority with nearly equal numbers of men and women. Most were receiving an antiretroviral regimen with a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor backbone and a base of a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, protease inhibitor, or integrase inhibitor. Autonomic neuropathy was defined using a laboratory-based autonomic assessment, the Composite Autonomic Severity Score (CASS). Medical records were reviewed for the year prior to the autonomic assessment. We found that the autonomic neuropathy score (CASS) was associated with the VACS index. We also found that among 53 participants with symptomatic autonomic neuropathy, the diagnosis had been considered for only one. The majority of the symptoms were either unexplained or attributed to medication side effects. This study demonstrates that autonomic neuropathy in HIV is associated with serious co-morbid illnesses known to increase mortality risk, and that HIV healthcare providers rarely consider autonomic neuropathy in their differential diagnoses. Future studies are needed to determine if autonomic neuropathy is an independent risk factor for mortality in HIV, and to raise awareness of its signs and symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3791048  PMID: 24032624
21.  Is Self-Perceived HIV Risk Congruent with Reported HIV Risk Among Traditionally Lower HIV Risk and Prevalence Adult Emergency Department Patients? Implications for HIV Testing 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(10):573-584.
Because reliance on patients' self-perceived risk for HIV might mislead emergency department (ED) clinicians on the need for HIV testing, we aimed to measure congruency between self-perceived and reported HIV risk in a traditional lower prevalence, lower-risk cohort. A random sample of 18- to 64-year-old patients at a large academic urban ED who were by self-report not men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) or injection-drug users (IDUs) were surveyed regarding their self-perceived and reported HIV risk. Sixty-two percent of participants were white non-Hispanic, 13.8% Black, and 21.2% Hispanic; and 66.9% previously had been tested for HIV. Linear regression models were constructed comparing self-perceived to reported HIV risk. Among the 329 female ED patients, 50.5% perceived that they were “not at risk” for HIV, yet only 10.9% reported no HIV risk behaviors, while among the 175 male ED patients, 50.9% perceived that they were “not at risk” for HIV, yet only 12.6% reported no HIV risk behaviors. Only 16.9% of women and 15.7% of men who had no self-perceived risk for HIV also reported no HIV risk behaviors. Multivariable linear regression demonstrated a weak relationship between self-perceived and reported risk. Congruency between self-perceived risk and reported HIV risk was low among these non-MSM, non-IDU ED patients.
PMCID: PMC3837562  PMID: 24093811
22.  Participant Experiences and Facilitators and Barriers to Pill Use Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in the iPrEx Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Trial in San Francisco 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(10):560-566.
In 2010, the iPrEx study demonstrated efficacy of daily emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in reducing HIV acquisition among men who have sex with men. Adherence to study product was critical for PrEP efficacy, and varied considerably, with FTC/TDF detection rates highest in the United States. We conducted a qualitative study to gain insights into the experiences of iPrEx participants in San Francisco (SF) where there was high confirmed adherence, to understand individual and contextual factors influencing study product use in this community. In 2009 and 2011, we conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews in 36 and 16 SF iPrEx participants, respectively. Qualitative analyses indicate that participants joined the study out of altruism. They had a clear understanding of study product use, and pill taking was facilitated by establishing or building on an existing routine. Participants valued healthcare provided by the study and relationships with staff, whom they perceived as nonjudgmental, and found client-centered counseling to be an important part of the PrEP package. This facilitated pill taking and accurate reporting of missed doses. Adherence barriers included changes in routine, side effects/intercurrent illnesses, and stress. Future PrEP adherence interventions should leverage existing routines and establish client-centered relationships/ environments to support pill taking and promote accurate reporting.
PMCID: PMC3791030  PMID: 24093809
23.  Stages of Change for Adherence to Antiretroviral Medications 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(10):567-572.
Providers do not predict reliably which of their HIV-positive patients are having difficulty adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART). The transtheoretical, or stages of change model, may be a useful tool to help providers identify patients who are having difficulty with ART adherence. The objective of the current study was to determine the relationship between stages of change and ART adherence among patients who were actively taking ART. Data from a randomized trial of a provider-focused intervention were used to examine the relationship between the stages of change and adherence, measured using electronic monitoring devices in the 30 days following the stages of change assessment. Individuals were eligible for inclusion if they were taking ART and had detectable plasma viral load (HIV-RNA). Repeated measures analysis of covariance was used to determine the impact of stages of change on adherence after controlling for potential confounders. The sample of 137 participants was 22% female, 48% white, 28% African-American, with a mean age of 42 years. Fifty-eight percent reported sex with a man as an HIV risk factor, while 13% reported sex with a woman, 14% reported injecting drugs and 15% reported other risk factors. In adjusted models, those in earlier stages of change (i.e., contemplation and preparation) had significantly lower adherence (-9.8%, p=0.04) compared to those in the action and maintenance phases. No demographic characteristics predicted adherence. The stages of change model may function as a screening tool for clinicians to discover patients at-risk of lower adherence.
PMCID: PMC3791039  PMID: 24093810
24.  Distress Tolerance and Use of Antiretroviral Therapy Among HIV-Infected Individuals in Substance Abuse Treatment 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(9):518-523.
Despite recent clinical guidelines recommending early initiation and widespread use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), many HIV-infected individuals are not receiving ART—in particular low-income, minority substance users. Few studies have examined psychological, as opposed to structural, factors related to not receiving ART in this population. Perceived capacity to tolerate physical and psychological distress, known as distress tolerance (DT), may be a particularly relevant yet understudied factor. The current study tested the relationship between self-reported physical and psychological DT and ART receipt among predominantly low-income, minority HIV-infected substance users (n=77). Psychiatric disorders, biological indicators of health status, ART use, structural barriers to health care, and self-reported physical and psychological DT were assessed. 61% of participants were receiving ART. The only factors that distinguished individuals not on ART were greater avoidance of physical discomfort, higher psychological DT, and higher CD4 count. Both DT measures remained associated with ART use after controlling for CD4 count and were associated with almost a two-fold decrease in likelihood of ART receipt. Current findings suggest higher perceived capacity to tolerate psychological distress and greater avoidance of physical discomfort are important factors associated with lower ART use among substance users and may be important intervention targets.
PMCID: PMC3760053  PMID: 23991690
25.  Healthcare Provider Attitudes, Practices, and Recommendations for Enhancing Routine HIV Testing and Linkage to Care in the Mississippi Delta Region 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(9):511-517.
The Mississippi Delta region is one of the communities most heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS in the United States. To understand local provider attitudes and practices regarding HIV testing and care, we conducted 25 in-depth qualitative interviews with local primary care providers and infectious disease specialists. Interviews explored attitudes and practices regarding HIV testing and linkage to care. Most providers did not routinely offer HIV testing, noting financial barriers, financial disincentives to offer routine screening, misperceptions about local informed consent laws, perceived stigma among patients, and belief that HIV testing was the responsibility of the health department. Barriers to enhancing treatment and care included stigma, long distances, lack of transportation, and paucity of local infectious disease specialists. Opportunities for enhancing HIV testing and care included provider education programs regarding billing, local HIV testing guidelines, and informed consent, as well as telemedicine services for underserved counties. Although most health care providers in our study did not currently offer routine HIV testing, all were willing to provide more testing and care services if they were able to bill for routine testing. Increasing financial reimbursement and access to care, including through the Affordable Care Act, may provide an opportunity to enhance HIV/AIDS services in the Mississippi Delta.
PMCID: PMC3760055  PMID: 23991689

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