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1.  Cause-Specific Life Expectancies After 35 Years of Age for Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome-Infected and Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome-Negative Individuals Followed Simultaneously in Long-term Cohort Studies, 1984–2008 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;177(2):116-125.
Parametric and semiparametric competing risks methods were used to estimate proportions, timing, and predictors of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related and non-AIDS-related mortality among individuals both positive and negative for the human immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV) in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) from 1984 to 2008 and 1996 to 2008, respectively. Among HIV-positive MACS participants, the proportion of deaths unrelated to AIDS increased from 6% before the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (before 1996) to 53% in the HAART era (P < 0.01); the median age of persons who died from non-AIDS-related causes after age 35 years increased from 49.0 to 66.0 years (P < 0.01). In both cohorts during the HAART era, median ages at time of non-AIDS-related death were younger for HIV-positive individuals than for comparable HIV-negative individuals (8.7 years younger in MACS (P < 0.01) and 7.6 years younger in WIHS (P < 0.01)). In a multivariate proportional cause-specific hazards model, unemployment (for non-AIDS death, hazard ratio (HR) = 1.8; for AIDS death, HR = 2.3), depression (for non-AIDS death, HR = 1.4; for AIDS death, HR = 1.4), and hepatitis B or C infection (for non-AIDS death, HR = 1.8, for AIDS death; HR = 1.4) were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with higher hazards of both non-AIDS and AIDS mortality among HIV-positive individuals in the HAART era, independent of study cohort. The results illuminate the changing face of mortality among the growing population infected with HIV.
doi:10.1093/aje/kws321
PMCID: PMC3590031  PMID: 23287403
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; antiretroviral therapy, highly active; cohort studies; competing risks; HIV; mixture model; mortality; proportional hazards models
2.  Emergence of Drug Resistance Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Death among Patients First Starting HAART 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e356.
Background
The impact of the emergence of drug-resistance mutations on mortality is not well characterized in antiretroviral-naïve patients first starting highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Patients may be able to sustain immunologic function with resistant virus, and there is limited evidence that reduced sensitivity to antiretrovirals leads to rapid disease progression or death. We undertook the present analysis to characterize the determinants of mortality in a prospective cohort study with a median of nearly 5 y of follow-up. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of the emergence of drug-resistance mutations on survival among persons initiating HAART.
Methods and Findings
Participants were antiretroviral therapy naïve at entry and initiated triple combination antiretroviral therapy between August 1, 1996, and September 30, 1999. Marginal structural modeling was used to address potential confounding between time-dependent variables in the Cox proportional hazard regression models. In this analysis resistance to any class of drug was considered as a binary time-dependent exposure to the risk of death, controlling for the effect of other time-dependent confounders. We also considered each separate class of mutation as a binary time-dependent exposure, while controlling for the presence/absence of other mutations. A total of 207 deaths were identified among 1,138 participants over the follow-up period, with an all cause mortality rate of 18.2%. Among the 679 patients with HIV-drug-resistance genotyping done before initiating HAART, HIV-drug resistance to any class was observed in 53 (7.8%) of the patients. During follow-up, HIV-drug resistance to any class was observed in 302 (26.5%) participants. Emergence of any resistance was associated with mortality (hazard ratio: 1.75 [95% confidence interval: 1.27, 2.43]). When we considered each class of resistance separately, persons who exhibited resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors had the highest risk: mortality rates were 3.02 times higher (95% confidence interval: 1.99, 4.57) for these patients than for those who did not exhibit this type of resistance.
Conclusions
We demonstrated that emergence of resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors was associated with a greater risk of subsequent death than was emergence of protease inhibitor resistance. Future research is needed to identify the particular subpopulations of men and women at greatest risk and to elucidate the impact of resistance over a longer follow-up period.
Emergence of resistance to both non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors was associated with a higher risk of subsequent death, but the risk was greater in patients with NNRTI-resistant HIV.
Editors' Summary
Background.
In the 1980s, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was effectively a death sentence. HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) by replicating inside immune system cells and destroying them, which leaves infected individuals unable to fight off other viruses and bacteria. The first antiretroviral drugs were developed quickly, but it soon became clear that single antiretrovirals only transiently suppress HIV infection. HIV mutates (accumulates random changes to its genetic material) very rapidly and, although most of these changes (or mutations) are bad for the virus, by chance some make it drug resistant. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which was introduced in the mid-1990s, combines three or four antiretroviral drugs that act at different stages of the viral life cycle. For example, they inhibit the reverse transcriptase that the virus uses to replicate its genetic material, or the protease that is necessary to assemble new viruses. With HAART, the replication of any virus that develops resistance to one drug is inhibited by the other drugs in the mix. As a consequence, for many individuals with access to HAART, AIDS has become a chronic rather than a fatal disease. However, being on HAART requires patients to take several pills a day at specific times. In addition, the drugs in the HAART regimens often have side effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
Drug resistance still develops even with HAART, often because patients don't stick to the complicated regimens. The detection of resistance to one drug is usually the prompt to change a patient's drug regimen to head off possible treatment failure. Although most patients treated with HAART live for many years, some still die from AIDS. We don't know much about how the emergence of drug-resistance mutations affects mortality in patients who are starting antiretroviral therapy for the first time. In this study, the researchers looked at how the emergence of drug resistance affected survival in a group of HIV/AIDS patients in British Columbia, Canada. Here, everyone with HIV/AIDS has access to free medical attention, HAART, and laboratory monitoring, and full details of all HAART recipients are entered into a central reporting system.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled people who started antiretroviral therapy for the first time between August 1996 and September 1999 into the HAART Observational Medical Evaluation and Research (HOMER) cohort. They then excluded anyone who was infected with already drug-resistant HIV strains (based on the presence of drug-resistance mutations in viruses isolated from the patients) at the start of therapy. The remaining 1,138 patients were followed for an average of five years. All the patients received either two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a protease inhibitor, or two nucleoside and one non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). Nearly a fifth of the study participants died during the follow-up period. Most of these patients actually had drug-sensitive viruses, possibly because they had neglected taking their drugs to such an extent that there had been insufficient drug exposure to select for drug-resistant viruses. In a quarter of the patients, however, HIV strains resistant to one or more antiretroviral drugs emerged during the study (again judged by looking for mutations). Detailed statistical analyses indicated that the emergence of any drug resistance nearly doubled the risk of patients dying, and that people carrying viruses resistant to NNRTIs were three times as likely to die as those without resistance to this class of antiretroviral drug.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results provide new information about the emergence of drug-resistant HIV during HAART and possible effects on the long-term survival of patients. In particular, they suggest that clinicians should watch carefully for the emergence of resistance to NNRTIs in their patients. Because this type of resistance is often due to poor adherence to drug regimens, these results also suggest that increased efforts should be made to ensure that patients comply with the prescribed HAART regimens, especially those whose antiretroviral therapy includes NNRTIs. As with all studies in which a group of individuals who share a common characteristic are studied over time, it is possible that some other, unmeasured difference between the patients who died and those who didn't—rather than emerging drug resistance—is responsible for the observed differences in survival. Additional studies are needed to confirm the findings here, and to investigate whether specific subpopulations of patients are at particular risk of developing drug resistance and/or dying during HAART.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030356.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases fact sheet on HIV infection and AIDS
US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS, including details of approved drugs for the treatment of HIV infection
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
Aidsmap, information on HIV and AIDS provided by the charity NAM, which includes details on antiretroviral drugs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030356
PMCID: PMC1569883  PMID: 16984218
3.  The Impact of Kidney Function at HAART Initiation on Mortality in HIV-infected Women 
Background
In the early highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era, kidney dysfunction was strongly associated with death among HIV-infected individuals. We re-examined this association in the later HAART period to determine whether chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a predictor of death after HAART-initiation.
Methods
To evaluate the effect of kidney function at the time of HAART initiation on time to all-cause mortality, we evaluated 1415 HIV-infected women initiating HAART in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Multivariable proportional hazards models with survival times calculated from HAART initiation to death were constructed; participants were censored at the time of the last available visit or December 31, 2006.
Results
CKD (eGFR <60 ml/min/1.73 m2) at HAART initiation was associated with higher mortality risk adjusting for age, race, hepatitis C serostatus, AIDS history and CD4+ cell count (hazard ratio [HR]=2.23, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.45–3.43). Adjustment for hypertension and diabetes history attenuated this association (HR=1.89, CI: 0.94–3.80). Lower kidney function at HAART initiation was weakly associated with increased mortality risk in women with prior AIDS (HR=1.09, CI: 1.00–1.19, per 20% decrease in eGFR).
Conclusions
Kidney function at HAART initiation remains an independent predictor of death in HIV-infected individuals, especially in those with a history of AIDS. Our study emphasizes the necessity of monitoring kidney function in this population. Additional studies are needed to determine mechanisms underlying the increased mortality risk associated with CKD in HIV-infected persons.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181e674f4
PMCID: PMC3243740  PMID: 20581688
kidney disease; mortality; HIV; WIHS; antiretroviral therapy
4.  Public-Health and Individual Approaches to Antiretroviral Therapy: Township South Africa and Switzerland Compared 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e148.
Background
The provision of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in resource-limited settings follows a public health approach, which is characterised by a limited number of regimens and the standardisation of clinical and laboratory monitoring. In industrialized countries doctors prescribe from the full range of available antiretroviral drugs, supported by resistance testing and frequent laboratory monitoring. We compared virologic response, changes to first-line regimens, and mortality in HIV-infected patients starting HAART in South Africa and Switzerland.
Methods and Findings
We analysed data from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and two HAART programmes in townships of Cape Town, South Africa. We included treatment-naïve patients aged 16 y or older who had started treatment with at least three drugs since 2001, and excluded intravenous drug users. Data from a total of 2,348 patients from South Africa and 1,016 patients from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study were analysed. Median baseline CD4+ T cell counts were 80 cells/μl in South Africa and 204 cells/μl in Switzerland. In South Africa, patients started with one of four first-line regimens, which was subsequently changed in 514 patients (22%). In Switzerland, 36 first-line regimens were used initially, and these were changed in 539 patients (53%). In most patients HIV-1 RNA was suppressed to 500 copies/ml or less within one year: 96% (95% confidence interval [CI] 95%–97%) in South Africa and 96% (94%–97%) in Switzerland, and 26% (22%–29%) and 27% (24%–31%), respectively, developed viral rebound within two years. Mortality was higher in South Africa than in Switzerland during the first months of HAART: adjusted hazard ratios were 5.90 (95% CI 1.81–19.2) during months 1–3 and 1.77 (0.90–3.50) during months 4–24.
Conclusions
Compared to the highly individualised approach in Switzerland, programmatic HAART in South Africa resulted in similar virologic outcomes, with relatively few changes to initial regimens. Further innovation and resources are required in South Africa to both achieve more timely access to HAART and improve the prognosis of patients who start HAART with advanced disease.
Comparing HIV treatment in Switzerland, where drug selection is individualized, and South Africa, where a programmatic approach is used, Matthias Egger and colleagues find similar virologic outcomes over two years.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has killed more than 25 million people since the first reported case in 1981, and more than 30 million people are now infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. HIV destroys immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte), leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected people died within 10 years of becoming infected. Then, in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—a combination of several antiretroviral drugs—was developed. Now, in resource-rich countries, clinicians provide individually tailored care for HIV-infected people by prescribing combinations of antiretroviral drugs chosen from more than 20 approved medicines. The approach to treatment of HIV in developed countries typically also includes frequent monitoring of the amount of virus in patients' blood (viral load), viral resistance testing (to see whether any viruses are resistant to specific antiretroviral drugs), and regular CD4 cell counts (an indication of immune-system health). Since the implementation of these interventions, the health and life expectancy of people with HIV has improved dramatically in these countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
The history of HIV care in resource-poor countries has been very different. Initially, these countries could not afford to provide HAART for their populations. In 2003, however, governments, international agencies, and funding bodies began to implement plans to increase HAART coverage in developing countries. By December 2006, more than a quarter of the HIV-infected people in low- and middle-income countries who urgently needed treatment were receiving HAART. However, instead of individualized treatment, HAART programs in developing countries follow a public-health approach developed by the World Health Organization. That is, drug regimens, clinical decision-making, and clinical and laboratory monitoring are all standardized. This public-health approach takes into account the realities of under-resourced health systems, but is it as effective as the individualized approach? The researchers addressed this question by comparing virologic responses (the effect of treatment on the viral load), changes to first-line (initial) therapy, and deaths in patients receiving HAART in South Africa (public-health approach) and in Switzerland (individualized approach).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected since 2001 from more than 2,000 patients enrolled in HAART programs in two townships (Gugulethu and Khayelitsha) in Cape Town, South Africa, and from more than 1,000 patients enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, a nationwide study of HIV-infected people. The patients in South Africa, who had a lower starting CD4 cell count and were more likely to have advanced AIDS than the patients in Switzerland, started their treatment for HIV infection with one of four first-line therapies, and about a quarter changed to a second-line therapy during the study. By contrast, 36 first-line regimens were used in Switzerland and half the patients changed to a different regimen. Despite these differences, the viral load was greatly reduced within a year in virtually all the patients and viral rebound (an increased viral load after a low measurement) developed within 2 years in a quarter of the patients in both countries. However, more patients died in South Africa than in Switzerland, particularly during the first 3 months of therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the public-health approach to HAART practiced in South Africa is as effective in terms of virologic outcomes as the individualized approach practiced in Switzerland. This is reassuring because it suggests that “antiretroviral anarchy” (the unregulated use of antiretroviral drugs, interruptions in drug supplies, and the lack of treatment monitoring), which is likely to lead to the emergence of viral resistance, is not happening in South Africa as some experts feared it might. Thus, these findings support the continued rollout of the public-health approach to HAART in resource-poor countries. Conversely, they also suggest that a more standardized approach to HAART could be taken in Switzerland (and in other industrialized countries) without compromising its effectiveness. Finally, the higher mortality in South Africa than in Switzerland, which partly reflects the many patients in South Africa in desperate need of HAART and their more advanced disease at the start of therapy, suggests that HIV-infected patients in South Africa and in other resource-limited countries would benefit from earlier initiation of therapy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050148.
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to HIV treatment (in several languages) and on its recommendations for a public-health approach to antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection
More details on the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and on the studies in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha are available
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information about antiretroviral therapy and links to treatment guidelines for various countries
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS around the world and on providing AIDS drug treatment for millions
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050148
PMCID: PMC2443185  PMID: 18613745
5.  HIV Prevalence and Sexual Risk Behavior among Non-Injection Drug Users in Tijuana, Mexico 
Global public health  2011;7(2):175-183.
Background
Prior studies estimate HIV prevalence of 4% among injection drug users (IDUs), compared with 0.8% in the general population of Tijuana, Mexico. However, data on HIV prevalence and correlates among non-injecting drug users (NIDUs) are sparse.
Methods
Individuals were recruited through street outreach for HIV testing and behavioral risk assessment interviews to estimate HIV prevalence and identify associated sexual risk behaviors among NIDUs in Tijuana. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize “low-risk” NIDUs (drug users who were not commercial sex workers or men who have sex with men).
Results
HIV prevalence was 3.7% among low-risk NIDUs. During the prior six months, 52% of NIDUs reported having ≥1 casual partner; 35% reported always using condoms with a casual partner; and 13% and 15% reported giving or receiving something in exchange for sex, respectively. Women were significantly more likely than men to have unprotected sex with an IDU (p<0.01).
Conclusions
The finding that HIV prevalence among NIDUs was similar to that of IDUs suggests that HIV transmission has occurred outside of traditional core groups in Tijuana. Broad interventions including HIV testing, condom promotion and sexual risk reduction should be offered to all drug users in Tijuana.
doi:10.1080/17441692.2010.549141
PMCID: PMC3163240  PMID: 21390967
Non-injection drug use; HIV; sexual risk behavior; methamphetamine; Mexico
6.  Drug Use and Receipt of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy among HIV-Infected Persons in Two U.S. Clinic Cohorts 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18462.
Objective
Drug use and receipt of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) were assessed in HIV-infected persons from the Comprehensive Care Center (CCC; Nashville, TN) and Johns Hopkins University HIV Clinic (JHU; Baltimore, MD) between 1999 and 2005.
Methods
Participants with and without injection drug use (IDU) history in the CCC and JHU cohorts were evaluated. Additional analysis of persons with history of IDU, non-injection drug use (NIDU), and no drug use from CCC were performed. Activity of IDU and NIDU also was assessed for the CCC cohort. HAART use and time on HAART were analyzed according to drug use category and site of care.
Results
1745 persons were included from CCC: 268 (15%) with IDU history and 796 (46%) with NIDU history. 1977 persons were included from JHU: 731 (35%) with IDU history. Overall, the cohorts differed in IDU risk factor rates, age, race, sex, and time in follow-up. In multivariate analyses, IDU was associated with decreased HAART receipt overall (OR = 0.61, 95% CI: [0.45–0.84] and OR = 0.58, 95% CI: [0.46–0.73], respectively for CCC and JHU) and less time on HAART at JHU (0.70, [0.55–0.88]), but not statistically associated with time on HAART at CCC (0.78, [0.56–1.09]). NIDU was independently associated with decreased HAART receipt (0.62, [0.47–0.81]) and less time on HAART (0.66, [0.52–0.85]) at CCC. These associations were not altered significantly whether patients at CCC were categorized according to historical drug use or drug use during the study period.
Conclusions
Persons with IDU history from both clinic populations were less likely to receive HAART and tended to have less cumulative time on HAART. Effects of NIDU were similar to IDU at CCC. NIDU without IDU is an important contributor to HAART utilization.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018462
PMCID: PMC3081810  PMID: 21541016
7.  Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation Before, During, or After Pregnancy in HIV-1-Infected Women: Maternal Virologic, Immunologic, and Clinical Response 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6961.
Background
Pregnancy has been associated with a decreased risk of HIV disease progression in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era. The effect of timing of HAART initiation relative to pregnancy on maternal virologic, immunologic and clinical outcomes has not been assessed.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective cohort study from 1997–2005 among 112 pregnant HIV-infected women who started HAART before (N = 12), during (N = 70) or after pregnancy (N = 30).
Results
Women initiating HAART before pregnancy had lower CD4+ nadir and higher baseline HIV-1 RNA. Women initiating HAART after pregnancy were more likely to receive triple-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Multivariable analyses adjusted for baseline CD4+ lymphocytes, baseline HIV-1 RNA, age, race, CD4+ lymphocyte count nadir, history of ADE, prior use of non-HAART ART, type of HAART regimen, prior pregnancies, and date of HAART start. In these models, women initiating HAART during pregnancy had better 6-month HIV-1 RNA and CD4+ changes than those initiating HAART after pregnancy (−0.35 vs. 0.10 log10 copies/mL, P = 0.03 and 183.8 vs. −70.8 cells/mm3, P = 0.03, respectively) but similar to those initiating HAART before pregnancy (−0.32 log10 copies/mL, P = 0.96 and 155.8 cells/mm3, P = 0.81, respectively). There were 3 (25%) AIDS-defining events or deaths in women initiating HAART before pregnancy, 3 (4%) in those initiating HAART during pregnancy, and 5 (17%) in those initiating after pregnancy (P = 0.01). There were no statistical differences in rates of HIV disease progression between groups.
Conclusions
HAART initiation during pregnancy was associated with better immunologic and virologic responses than initiation after pregnancy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006961
PMCID: PMC2734183  PMID: 19742315
8.  Injection drug use and patterns of highly active antiretroviral therapy use: an analysis of ALIVE, WIHS, and MACS cohorts 
Background
Sustained use of antiretroviral therapy has been consistently shown to be one of the primary predictors of long-term effectiveness. Switching and discontinuation reflect patient and provider decisions that may limit future treatment options. In this study, we utilize data reported at semi-annual study visits from three prospective cohort studies, the AIDS Link to IntraVenous Exposure (ALIVE), the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), to investigate determinants of HAART modification with a particular focus on reported injection drug use (IDU).
Methods
Longitudinal data collected between 1996 and 2004 contributed from 2,266 participants (37% with a reported history of IDU) who reported initiating their first HAART regimen during follow-up were utilized. Separate proportional-hazards models were used to identify factors measured prior to HAART-initiation associated with the time to first HAART discontinuation and first switch of components of HAART among continuous HAART users.
Results
The use of PI- vs. NNRTI-based regimens among HAART users with and without any history of IDU was similar over follow-up. The median time to a first report of discontinuation of HAART was 1.1 years for individuals with a history of IDU but 2.5 years for those without a history of IDU and multivariate analyses confirmed overall that individuals with a history of IDU were at greater risk for HAART discontinuation (adj RH = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.03–1.48). However, when restricting to data contributed after 1999, there was no longer any significant increased risk (adj RH = 1.05, 95% CI: 0.81–1.36). After adjusting for pre-HAART health status and prior ARV exposure, individuals who were ethnic/racial minorities, reported an annual income < $10,000/year, and were not employed were at significantly greater risk for HAART discontinuation. The median time to a first change in HAART regimen was approximately 1.5 years after first HAART report and was not elevated among those with a history of IDU (adj RH = 1.09, 95% CI: 0.89–1.34).
Conclusion
Our analyses demonstrate that injection drug use by itself does not appear to be an independent risk factor for HAART switching or discontinuation in more recent years. However, as continued HAART use is of paramount importance for long-term control of HIV infection, efforts to improve maintenance to therapy among disadvantaged and minority populations remain greatly needed.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-4-12
PMCID: PMC1892565  PMID: 17553140
9.  Differences in sociodemographic, drug use and health characteristics between never, former and current injecting, problematic hard-drug users in the Netherlands 
Background
Injecting drug users are at increased risk for harmful effects compared to non-injecting drug users. Some studies have focused on differences in characteristics between these two groups (e.g., housing, overall health). However, no study has investigated the specific Dutch situation which in the last years has seen a decrease in homelessness among problematic hard-drug users and an increasing focus on physical health in low-threshold addiction care. The purpose of this study was to determine differences in sociodemographic, drug use and health characteristics between never-injecting (NIDUs), former-injecting (FIDUs) and current-injecting drug users (IDUs) and describe injecting practices.
Methods
A total of 202 problematic hard-drug users (NIDU = 64; FIDU = 76; IDU = 62) were recruited from 22 low-threshold care facilities, including drug consumption rooms, methadone maintenance treatment, heroin-assisted therapy, day shelter and/or night shelter, supported housing and day activity centres. Data were collected on-site through structured face-to-face interviews.
Results
Results indicate that IDUs represented a separate group of problematic hard-drug users, with distinct sociodemographic and drug use characteristics. Overall, IDUs appeared to be the group with least favourable characteristics (unstable housing/homelessness, illegal activities, polydrug use) and NIDUs appeared to have the most favourable characteristics (stable housing, help with debts, less polydrug use). The FIDU group lies somewhere in between. The three groups did not differ significantly in terms of health. Regarding injecting practices, results showed that majority of IDUs had injected drugs for over 10 years and IDUs injected heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and/or methadone in the past 6 months. Sharing syringes was not common. A quarter reported public injecting.
Conclusions
Unstable housing and homelessness are related to (former) injecting drug use, and stable housing is related to never-injecting drug use. Our study suggests that the number of ‘new’ IDUs is low. However, public injecting among IDUs is not uncommon and is associated with unstable housing. This emphasizes the potential of housing projects as a component of harm reduction measures. Therefore, prevention of (risks associated with) injecting drug use and supported housing programmes for problematic hard-drug users deserve the continuous attention of policymakers and professionals in low-threshold addiction care.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-11-6
PMCID: PMC3926265  PMID: 24524263
Injecting drug use; Non-injecting drug use; Housing; Homelessness; Opiate use; Health; Low-threshold care
10.  CD4 Cell Count and the Risk of AIDS or Death in HIV-Infected Adults on Combination Antiretroviral Therapy with a Suppressed Viral Load: A Longitudinal Cohort Study from COHERE 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001194.
Using data from the Collaboration of Observational HIV Epidemiological Research Europe, Jim Young and colleagues show that in successfully treated patients the risk of a new AIDS event or death follows a CD4 cell count gradient in patients with viral suppression.
Background
Most adults infected with HIV achieve viral suppression within a year of starting combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). It is important to understand the risk of AIDS events or death for patients with a suppressed viral load.
Methods and Findings
Using data from the Collaboration of Observational HIV Epidemiological Research Europe (2010 merger), we assessed the risk of a new AIDS-defining event or death in successfully treated patients. We accumulated episodes of viral suppression for each patient while on cART, each episode beginning with the second of two consecutive plasma viral load measurements <50 copies/µl and ending with either a measurement >500 copies/µl, the first of two consecutive measurements between 50–500 copies/µl, cART interruption or administrative censoring. We used stratified multivariate Cox models to estimate the association between time updated CD4 cell count and a new AIDS event or death or death alone. 75,336 patients contributed 104,265 suppression episodes and were suppressed while on cART for a median 2.7 years. The mortality rate was 4.8 per 1,000 years of viral suppression. A higher CD4 cell count was always associated with a reduced risk of a new AIDS event or death; with a hazard ratio per 100 cells/µl (95% CI) of: 0.35 (0.30–0.40) for counts <200 cells/µl, 0.81 (0.71–0.92) for counts 200 to <350 cells/µl, 0.74 (0.66–0.83) for counts 350 to <500 cells/µl, and 0.96 (0.92–0.99) for counts ≥500 cells/µl. A higher CD4 cell count became even more beneficial over time for patients with CD4 cell counts <200 cells/µl.
Conclusions
Despite the low mortality rate, the risk of a new AIDS event or death follows a CD4 cell count gradient in patients with viral suppression. A higher CD4 cell count was associated with the greatest benefit for patients with a CD4 cell count <200 cells/µl but still some slight benefit for those with a CD4 cell count ≥500 cells/µl.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Currently, about 34 million people are infected with HIV and every year nearly 3 million people are newly infected with this virus, which causes AIDS. Most people do not become ill immediately after infection with HIV although some develop a short, flu-like illness (a “seroconversion” illness). The next stage of HIV infection, which may last up to 10 years, also has no major symptoms but, during this stage, HIV slowly destroys immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte). Eventually, the immune system can no longer fight off infections by other disease-causing organisms and HIV-positive people then develop one or more AIDS-defining condition(s), including severe but unusual infections, Kaposi sarcoma (a skin cancer), and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes). Many of these AIDS-defining conditions are life-threatening and, in the past, HIV-positive people died on average within 10 years of infection. Nowadays, although there is still no cure for HIV infection, combination antiretroviral therapy (cART; a cocktail of powerful antiretroviral drugs) has turned HIV/AIDS into a chronic, treatable condition, at least in developed countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most HIV-positive adults achieve viral suppression within a year of starting cART. That is, the number of copies of the virus in their blood drops to below 50 copies/ml. But what is the likely clinical outcome for patients who achieve viral suppression and what is their risk of developing a new AIDS-defining condition or of dying? For people starting cART for the first time, the number of CD4 cells in the blood when cART is initiated provides a strong indication of an individual's likely clinical outcome. Specifically, people who start cART when they have a high CD4 cell count tend to do better than people who start treatment when they have a low CD4 cell count. In this study, the researchers use data collected by the Collaboration of Observational HIV Epidemiological Research in Europe (COHERE) to estimate the association between CD4 cell count and progression to a new AIDS-defining event or death among patients who have achieved viral suppression while on cART.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified more than 75,000 patients in the COHERE database who, between them, had had more than 104,000 episodes (periods) of viral suppression while on cART and who had had their CD4 cell count determined shortly before or during their viral suppression episodes. The researchers then used stratified multivariate Cox models (a type of statistical analysis method) to estimate the association between CD4 cell counts and the occurrence of a new AIDS-defining event or death. Among the patients included in the study, the mortality (death) rate was 4.8 per 1,000 years of viral suppression. The highest rates of new AIDS-defining events or death were seen in those patients with less than 50 CD4 cells/µl blood and a higher CD4 cell count was associated with a reduced risk of a new AIDS-defining event or death. Finally, among those patients with a CD4 cell count below 200 cells/µl, the risk of progression decreased over time for those patients with higher CD4 cell counts.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, although new AIDS-defining events and death are uncommon among patients whose viral load is suppressed by cART, the risk of a new AIDS-defining event or death follows a CD4 cell count gradient with the patients with the highest CD4 cell counts having the lowest risk of a new AIDS-defining event or death. The findings also suggest that higher CD4 cell counts provide the greatest benefit for patients with a CD4 cell count below 200 cells/µl blood. These findings have two main clinical implications. First, they add to the evidence that suggests that, to facilitate immune system recovery, cART should be started when a patient's CD4 cell count is between 350 and 500 cells/µl blood, the current recommended range for cART initiation. Unfortunately, most patients in resource-limited settings only start cART when their CD4 cell count is below 200 cells/µl. Second, these findings suggest that patients with sustained viral suppression but low CD4 cell counts should be monitored regularly to ensure that any life-threatening AIDS-defining events are dealt with quickly and effectively.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001194.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV treatment and care (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization's 2010 antiretroviral therapy guidelines provide recommendations on when to initiate cART
Information about COHERE is available
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001194
PMCID: PMC3308938  PMID: 22448150
11.  The Impact of HAART on the Respiratory Complications of HIV Infection: Longitudinal Trends in the MACS and WIHS Cohorts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58812.
Objective
To review the incidence of respiratory conditions and their effect on mortality in HIV-infected and uninfected individuals prior to and during the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Design
Two large observational cohorts of HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected men (Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study [MACS]) and women (Women’s Interagency HIV Study [WIHS]), followed since 1984 and 1994, respectively.
Methods
Adjusted odds or hazards ratios for incident respiratory infections or non-infectious respiratory diagnoses, respectively, in HIV-infected compared to HIV-uninfected individuals in both the pre-HAART (MACS only) and HAART eras; and adjusted Cox proportional hazard ratios for mortality in HIV-infected persons with lung disease during the HAART era.
Results
Compared to HIV-uninfected participants, HIV-infected individuals had more incident respiratory infections both pre-HAART (MACS, odds ratio [adjusted-OR], 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2–2.7; p<0.001) and after HAART availability (MACS, adjusted-OR, 1.5; 95%CI 1.3–1.7; p<0.001; WIHS adjusted-OR, 2.2; 95%CI 1.8–2.7; p<0.001). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was more common in MACS HIV-infected vs. HIV-uninfected participants pre-HAART (hazard ratio [adjusted-HR] 2.9; 95%CI, 1.02–8.4; p = 0.046). After HAART availability, non-infectious lung diseases were not significantly more common in HIV-infected participants in either MACS or WIHS participants. HIV-infected participants in the HAART era with respiratory infections had an increased risk of death compared to those without infections (MACS adjusted-HR, 1.5; 95%CI, 1.3–1.7; p<0.001; WIHS adjusted-HR, 1.9; 95%CI, 1.5–2.4; p<0.001).
Conclusion
HIV infection remained a significant risk for infectious respiratory diseases after the introduction of HAART, and infectious respiratory diseases were associated with an increased risk of mortality.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058812
PMCID: PMC3595204  PMID: 23554932
12.  Kidney and liver organ transplantation in persons with human immunodeficiency virus 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this analysis is to determine the effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in persons with end stage organ failure (ESOF) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV+)
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Patients with end stage organ failure who have been unresponsive to other forms of treatment eventually require solid organ transplantation. Similar to persons who are HIV negative (HIV−), persons living with HIV infection (HIV+) are at risk for ESOF from viral (e.g. hepatitis B and C) and non-viral aetiologies (e.g. coronary artery disease, diabetes, hepatocellular carcinoma). Additionally, HIV+ persons also incur risks of ESOF from HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), accelerated liver damage from hepatitis C virus (HCV+), with which an estimated 30% of HIV positive (HIV+) persons are co-infected, and coronary artery disease secondary to antiretroviral therapy. Concerns that the need for post transplant immunosuppression and/or the interaction of immunosuppressive drugs with antiretroviral agents may accelerate the progression of HIV disease, as well as the risk of opportunistic infections post transplantation, have led to uncertainty regarding the overall benefit of transplantation among HIV+ patients. Moreover, the scarcity of donor organs and their use in a population where the clinical benefit of transplantation is uncertain has limited the availability of organ transplantation to persons living with ESOF and HIV.
With the development of highly active anti retroviral therapy (HAART), which has been available in Canada since 1997, there has been improved survival and health-related quality of life for persons living with HIV. HAART can suppress HIV replication, enhance immune function, and slow disease progression. HAART managed persons can now be expected to live longer than those in the pre-HAART era and as a result many will now experience ESOF well before they experience life-threatening conditions related to HIV infection. Given their improved prognosis and the burden of illness they may experience from ESOF, the benefit of solid organ transplantation for HIV+ patients needs to be reassessed.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
What are the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in HIV+ persons with ESOF?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on September 22, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1996 to September 22, 2009.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic review with or without a Meta analysis, RCT, Non-RCT with controls
HIV+ population undergoing solid organ transplantation
HIV+ population managed with HAART therapy
Controls include persons undergoing solid organ transplantation who are i) HIV− ii) HCV+ mono-infected, and iii) HIV+ persons with ESOF not transplanted.
Studies that completed and reported results of a Kaplan-Meier Survival Curve analysis.
Studies with a minimum (mean or medium) follow up of 1-year.
English language citations
Exclusion Criteria
Case reports and case series were excluded form this review.
Outcomes of Interest
i) Risk of Death after transplantation
ii) Death censored graft survival (DCGS)
iii) HIV disease progression defined as the post transplant incidence of:
- opportunistic infections or neoplasms,
- CD4+ T-cell count < 200mm3, and
- any detectable level of plasma HIV viral load.
iv) Acute graft rejection,
v) Return to dialysis,
vi) Recurrence of HCV infection
Summary of Findings
No direct evidence comparing an HIV+ cohort undergoing transplantation with the same not undergoing transplantation (wait list) was found in the literature search.
The results of this review are reported for the following comparison cohorts undergoing transplantation:
i) Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− cohort
ii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− negative cohort
iii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ HCV+ (co-infected) cohort compared with HCV+ (mono-infected) cohort
Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a pooled HIV+ cohort sample size of 285 patients across four studies, the risk of death after kidney transplantation in an HIV+ cohort does not differ to that of an HIV− cohort [hazard ratio (HR): 0.90; 95% CI: 0.36, 2.23]. The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported in one study with an HIV+ cohort sample size of 100, and was statistically significantly different (p=.03) to that in the HIV− cohort (n=36,492). However, the quality of evidence supporting this outcome was determined to be very low. There was also uncertainty in the rate of return to dialysis after kidney transplantation in both the HIV+ and HIV− groups and the effect, if any, this may have on patient survival. Because of the very low quality evidence rating, the effect of kidney transplantation on HIV-disease progression is uncertain.
The rate of acute graft rejection was determined using the data from one study. There was a nonsignificant difference between the HIV+ and HIV− cohorts (OR 0.13; 95% CI: 0.01, 2.64), although again, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in this estimate of effect.
Liver Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a combined HIV+ cohort sample size of 198 patient across five studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation in an HIV+ cohort (with at least 50% of the cohort co-infected with HCV+) is statistically significantly 64% greater compared with an HIV− cohort (HR: 1.64; 95% CI: 1.32, 2.02). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported for an HIV+ cohort in one study (n=11) however the DCGS rate of the contemporaneous control HIV− cohort was not reported. Because of sparse data the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low indicating death censored graft survival is uncertain.
Both the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant with an incidence of opportunistic infection of 20.5%. However, the quality of this evidence for these outcomes is very low indicating uncertainty in these effects. Similarly, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the rate of acute graft rejection among both the HIV+ and HIV− groups
Liver Transplantation: HIV+/HCV+ vs. HCV+
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort sample size of 156 from seven studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation is significantly greater (2.8 fold) in a co-infected cohort compared with an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (HR: 2.81; 95% CI: 1.47, 5.37). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. Death censored graft survival evidence was not available.
Regarding disease progression, based on a combined sample size of 71 persons in the co-infected cohort, the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant; however, again the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. The rate of opportunistic infection in the co-infected cohort was 7.2%. The quality of evidence supporting this estimate is very low, indicating uncertainty in these estimates of effect.
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=57) the rate of acute graft rejection does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.44, 1.76). Also based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=83), the rate of HCV+ recurrence does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.27, 1.59). In both cases, the quality of the supporting evidence was very low.
Overall, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the effect of kidney or liver transplantation in HIV+ persons with end stage organ failure compared with those not infected with HIV. Examining the economics of this issue, the cost of kidney and liver transplants in an HIV+ patient population are, on average, 56K and 147K per case, based on both Canadian and American experiences.
PMCID: PMC3377507  PMID: 23074407
13.  Antiretroviral Treatment and Prevention of Peripartum and Postnatal HIV Transmission in West Africa: Evaluation of a Two-Tiered Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e257.
Background
Highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) has only been recently recommended for HIV-infected pregnant women requiring treatment for their own health in resource-limited settings. However, there are few documented experiences from African countries. We evaluated the short-term (4 wk) and long-term (12 mo) effectiveness of a two-tiered strategy of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Africa: women meeting the eligibility criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO) received HAART, and women with less advanced HIV disease received short-course antiretroviral (scARV) PMTCT regimens.
Methods and Findings
The MTCT-Plus Initiative is a multi-country, family-centred HIV care and treatment program for pregnant and postpartum women and their families. Pregnant women enrolled in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire received either HAART for their own health or short-course antiretroviral (scARV) PMTCT regimens according to their clinical and immunological status. Plasma HIV-RNA viral load (VL) was measured to diagnose peripartum infection when infants were 4 wk of age, and HIV final status was documented either by rapid antibody testing when infants were aged ≥ 12 mo or by plasma VL earlier. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate the rate of HIV transmission and HIV-free survival. Between August 2003 and June 2005, 107 women began HAART at a median of 30 wk of gestation, 102 of them with zidovudine (ZDV), lamivudine (3TC), and nevirapine (NVP) and they continued treatment postpartum; 143 other women received scARV for PMTCT, 103 of them with sc(ZDV+3TC) with single-dose NVP during labour. Most (75%) of the infants were breast-fed for a median of 5 mo. Overall, the rate of peripartum HIV transmission was 2.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.3%–4.2%) and the cumulative rate at 12 mo was 5.7% (95% CI 2.5%–9.0%). The overall probability of infant death or infection with HIV was 4.3% (95% CI 1.7%–7.0%) at age week 4 wk and 11.7% (95% CI 7.5%–15.9%) at 12 mo.
Conclusions
This two-tiered strategy appears to be safe and highly effective for short- and long-term PMTCT in resource-constrained settings. These results indicate a further benefit of access to HAART for pregnant women who need treatment for their own health.
In an observational cohort study from Côte d'Ivoire, François Dabis and colleagues report on prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission among women receiving antiretroviral therapy according to World Health Organization recommendations.
Editors' Summary
Background
Effective treatments are available to prevent AIDS in people who are infected with HIV, but not everyone with HIV needs to take medication. Usually, anti-HIV medication is recommended only for those whose immune systems have been significantly affected by the virus, as evidenced by symptoms or by the results of a blood test, the CD4 lymphocyte (“T cell”) count. Treating HIV usually requires a combination of three or more medications. These combinations (called HAART) must be taken every day, can cause complications, and can be expensive.
Worldwide, more than half a million children became infected with HIV each year. Most of these children acquire HIV from their mothers during pregnancy or around the time of birth. If a pregnant woman with HIV takes HAART, her chances of passing HIV to the baby are greatly reduced, but the possible side effects of HAART on the baby are not known. Also, most transmission of HIV from mothers to babies occurs in poor countries where supplies of HAART are limited. For these reasons, World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend that every pregnant woman receive HAART to prevent HIV transmission to the baby, unless the woman needs HAART for her own health (for example if her T cells are low or she has severe symptoms of HIV infection). For pregnant women with HIV who do not need to take HAART for their own health, less complicated treatments, involving a short course of one or two HIV drugs, can be used to reduce the risk of passing HIV to the baby.
Why Was This Study Done?
The WHO recommendations for HAART in pregnancy are based on the best available evidence, but it is important to know how well they work in actual practice. The authors of this study were providing HIV treatment to pregnant women with HIV in West Africa through an established clinic program in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, and wanted to see how well the WHO recommendations for HAART or short-course treatments, depending on the mother's condition, were working to protect babies from HIV infection.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied 250 HIV-infected pregnant women who received HIV medications in the Abidjan program between mid-2003 and mid-2005. In accordance with WHO guidelines, 107 women began HAART for their own health during pregnancy, and 143 women did not qualify for HAART but received other short course treatments (scARV) to prevent HIV transmission to their babies. The authors monitored mothers and babies for treatment side effects and tested the babies for HIV infection up to age 1 y.
They found that HAART was relatively safe during pregnancy, although babies born to women on HAART were more likely (26.3%) to have low birth weight than babies born to women who received scARV (12.4%). Also, 7.5% of women on HAART developed side effects requiring a change in their medications. Combining the results from HAART and scART groups, the chance of HIV transmission around the time of birth was 2.2%, increasing to 5.7% at age 1 y. (Three-quarters of the infants were breast-fed; safe water for mixing formula was not reliably available.) The study found no difference in risk of HIV infection between babies whose mothers received HAART and those whose mothers received scARV according to guidelines.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results support the safety and effectiveness of the WHO two-tiered approach for preventing mother-to-child transmission. This study was not designed to compare HAART to scART directly, because the women who received HAART were the ones with more advanced HIV infection, which might have affected their babies in many ways.
Compared to earlier pregnancy studies of HAART in rich countries, this study of the WHO approach in West Africa showed similar success in protecting infants from HIV infection around the time of birth. Unfortunately, because formula feeding was not generally available in resource-limited settings, protection declined over the first year of life with breast-feeding, but some protection remained.
This study confirms that close monitoring of pregnant women on HAART is necessary, so that drugs can be changed if side effects develop. The study does not tell us whether using scARV in pregnancy might change the virus in ways that would make it more difficult to treat the same women with HAART later if they needed it. The reason for low birth weight in some babies born to mothers on HAART is unclear. It may be because the women who needed HAART had more severe health problems from their HIV, or it may be a result of the HAART itself.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040257.
World Health Organization has a page on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
“Women, Children, and HIV” is a resource site from the François Xavier Bagnoud Center and UCSF
The MTCT-Plus initiative at Columbia University supports the programs in Abidjan
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040257
PMCID: PMC1949842  PMID: 17713983
14.  What are the factors associated with HIV testing among male injecting and non-injecting drug users in Lashio, Myanmar: a cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(6):e002747.
Objectives
HIV testing is an effective intervention for reducing HIV risk and providing information on HIV status. However, uptake of HIV testing is a major challenge within the drug-using population due to the stigma and discrimination associated with their illegal drug use behaviours. This study thus aimed to identify factors associated with HIV testing among injecting drug users (IDUs) and non-injecting drug users (NIDUs) in Lashio, Myanmar.
Design
A cross-sectional study was conducted from January 2010 to February 2010.
Setting
This study was carried out in Lashio city, Northern Shan State, Myanmar.
Participants
In total, 158 male IDUs and 210 male NIDUs were recruited using a respondent-driven sampling method.
Primary outcome measures
Proportion of both drug users who were ever tested for HIV and factors associated with HIV testing.
Results
Approximately 77% of IDUs and 46% of NIDUs were ever tested for HIV. The multivariate analysis revealed that having ever received drug treatment was positively associated with HIV testing among both IDUs (adjusted OR (AOR) 13.07; 95% CI 3.38 to 50.53) and NIDUs (AOR 3.58; 95% CI 1.38 to 9.24). IDUs who were married (AOR 0.24; 95% CI 0.06 to 0.94) and who injected at least twice daily (AOR 0.30; 95% CI 0.09 to 0.97) were less likely to undergo HIV testing. Among NIDUs, those who belonged to Shan (AOR 0.30; 95% CI 0.11 to 0.84) or Kachin (AOR 0.30; 95% CI 0.10 to 0.87) ethnicities were less likely to test for HIV.
Conclusions
IDUs and NIDUs who have received drug treatment are more likely to test for HIV. Integrating HIV testing into drug treatment programmes alongside general expansion of HIV testing services may be effective in increasing HIV testing uptake among both IDUs and NIDUs in the Northern Shan State of Myanmar.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002747
PMCID: PMC3686230  PMID: 23794581
Health Services Administration & Management
15.  Risk Factors and Outcomes for Late Presentation for HIV-Positive Persons in Europe: Results from the Collaboration of Observational HIV Epidemiological Research Europe Study (COHERE) 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001510.
Amanda Mocroft and colleagues investigate risk factors and health outcomes associated with diagnosis at a late stage of infection in individuals across Europe.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Few studies have monitored late presentation (LP) of HIV infection over the European continent, including Eastern Europe. Study objectives were to explore the impact of LP on AIDS and mortality.
Methods and Findings
LP was defined in Collaboration of Observational HIV Epidemiological Research Europe (COHERE) as HIV diagnosis with a CD4 count <350/mm3 or an AIDS diagnosis within 6 months of HIV diagnosis among persons presenting for care between 1 January 2000 and 30 June 2011. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with LP and Poisson regression to explore the impact on AIDS/death. 84,524 individuals from 23 cohorts in 35 countries contributed data; 45,488 were LP (53.8%). LP was highest in heterosexual males (66.1%), Southern European countries (57.0%), and persons originating from Africa (65.1%). LP decreased from 57.3% in 2000 to 51.7% in 2010/2011 (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.96; 95% CI 0.95–0.97). LP decreased over time in both Central and Northern Europe among homosexual men, and male and female heterosexuals, but increased over time for female heterosexuals and male intravenous drug users (IDUs) from Southern Europe and in male and female IDUs from Eastern Europe. 8,187 AIDS/deaths occurred during 327,003 person-years of follow-up. In the first year after HIV diagnosis, LP was associated with over a 13-fold increased incidence of AIDS/death in Southern Europe (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR] 13.02; 95% CI 8.19–20.70) and over a 6-fold increased rate in Eastern Europe (aIRR 6.64; 95% CI 3.55–12.43).
Conclusions
LP has decreased over time across Europe, but remains a significant issue in the region in all HIV exposure groups. LP increased in male IDUs and female heterosexuals from Southern Europe and IDUs in Eastern Europe. LP was associated with an increased rate of AIDS/deaths, particularly in the first year after HIV diagnosis, with significant variation across Europe. Earlier and more widespread testing, timely referrals after testing positive, and improved retention in care strategies are required to further reduce the incidence of LP.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year about 2.5 million people become newly infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected partner, from an HIV-positive mother to her unborn baby, or through injection of drugs. Most people do not become ill immediately after infection with HIV although some develop a short influenza-like illness. The next stage of the HIV infection, which may last up to 10 years, also has no major symptoms but, during this stage, HIV slowly destroys immune system cells, including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte. Eventually, when the immune system is unable to fight off infections by other disease-causing organisms, HIV-positive people develop AIDS-defining conditions—unusual viral, bacterial, and fungal infections and unusual tumors. Progression to AIDS occurs when any severe AIDS-defining condition is diagnosed, when the CD4 count in the blood falls below 200 cells/mm3, or when CD4 cells account for fewer than 15% of lymphocytes.
Why Was This Study Done?
People need to know they are HIV positive as soon as possible after they become infected because antiretroviral therapy, which controls but does not cure HIV infection, works best if it is initiated when people still have a relatively high CD4 count. Early diagnosis also reduces the risk of onward HIV transmission. However, 40%–60% of HIV-positive individuals in developed countries are not diagnosed until they have a low CD4 count or an AIDS-defining illness. Reasons for such late presentation include fear of discrimination or stigmatization, limited knowledge about HIV risk factors, testing, and treatment together with missed opportunities to offer an HIV test. Policy makers involved in national and international HIV control programs need detailed information about patterns of late presentation before they can make informed decisions about how to reduce this problem. In this study, therefore, the researchers use data collected by the Collaboration of Observational HIV Epidemiological Research in Europe (COHERE) to analyze trends in late presentation over time across Europe and in different groups of people at risk of HIV infection and to investigate the clinical consequences of late presentation.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected from 84,524 individuals participating in more than 20 observational studies that were undertaken in 35 European countries and that investigated outcomes among HIV-positive people. Nearly 54% of the participants were late presenters—individuals who had a CD4 count of less than 350 cells/mm3 or an AIDS-defining illness within 6 months of HIV diagnosis. Late presentation was highest among heterosexual males, in Southern European countries, and among people originating in Africa. Overall, late presentation decreased from 57.3% in 2000 to 51.7% in 2010/11. However, whereas late presentation decreased over time among men having sex with men in Central and Northern Europe, for example, it increased over time among female heterosexuals in Southern Europe. Finally, among the 8,000 individuals who developed a new AIDS-defining illness or died during follow-up, compared to non-late presentation, late presentation was associated with an increased incidence of AIDS/death in all regions of Europe during the first and second year after HIV diagnosis (but not in later years); the largest increase in incidence (13-fold) occurred during the first year after diagnosis in Southern Europe.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, although late presentation with HIV infection has decreased in recent years, it remains an important issue across Europe and in all groups of people at risk of HIV infection. They also show that individuals presenting late have a worse clinical outlook, particularly in the first and second year after diagnosis compared to non-late presenters. Several aspects of the study design may affect the accuracy and usefulness of these findings, however. For example, some of the study participants recorded as late presenters may have been people who were aware of their HIV status but who chose not to seek care for HIV infection, or may have been seen in the health care system prior to HIV diagnosis without being offered an HIV test. Delayed entry into care and late presentation are likely to have different risk factors, a possibility that needs to be studied further. Despite this and other study limitations, these findings nevertheless suggest that HIV testing strategies that encourage early testing in all populations at risk, that ensure timely referrals, and that improve retention in care are required to further reduce the incidence of late presentation with HIV infection in Europe.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001510.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on the stages of HIV infection and on HIV and AIDS in Europe (in English and Spanish)
The HIV in Europe Initiative has information about strategies to improve earlier diagnosis and access to care in Europe
Information about COHERE, which was established in 2005 to conduct epidemiological research on the prognosis and outcome of HIV-infected people from across Europe, is available; more information on the consensus definition of late presentation used in this study is available through the HIV in Europe initiative
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert and through the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001510
PMCID: PMC3796947  PMID: 24137103
16.  Clinical, demographic and laboratory parameters at HAART initiation associated with decreased post-HAART survival in a U.S. military prospective HIV cohort 
Background
Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has improved HIV survival, some patients receiving therapy are still dying. This analysis was conducted to identify factors associated with increased risk of post-HAART mortality.
Methods
We evaluated baseline (prior to HAART initiation) clinical, demographic and laboratory factors (including CD4+ count and HIV RNA level) for associations with subsequent mortality in 1,600 patients who began HAART in a prospective observational cohort of HIV-infected U.S. military personnel.
Results
Cumulative mortality was 5%, 10% and 18% at 4, 8 and 12 years post-HAART. Mortality was highest (6.23 deaths/100 person-years [PY]) in those with ≤ 50 CD4+ cells/mm3 before HAART initiation, and became progressively lower as CD4+ counts increased (0.70/100 PY with ≥ 500 CD4+ cells/mm3). In multivariate analysis, factors significantly (p < 0.05) associated with post-HAART mortality included: increasing age among those ≥ 40 years (Hazard ratio [HR] = 1.32 per 5 year increase), clinical AIDS events before HAART (HR = 1.93), ≤ 50 CD4+ cells/mm3 (vs. CD4+ ≥ 500, HR = 2.97), greater HIV RNA level (HR = 1.36 per one log10 increase), hepatitis C antibody or chronic hepatitis B (HR = 1.96), and HIV diagnosis before 1996 (HR = 2.44). Baseline CD4+ = 51-200 cells (HR = 1.74, p = 0.06), and hemoglobin < 12 gm/dL for women or < 13.5 for men (HR = 1.36, p = 0.07) were borderline significant.
Conclusions
Although treatment has improved HIV survival, defining those at greatest risk for death after HAART initiation, including demographic, clinical and laboratory correlates of poorer prognoses, can help identify a subset of patients for whom more intensive monitoring, counseling, and care interventions may improve clinical outcomes and post-HAART survival.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-9-4
PMCID: PMC3320559  PMID: 22339893
Highly active antiretroviral therapy; mortality; CD4+ lymphocyte count
17.  Survival during Renal Replacement Therapy among African Americans Infected with HIV Type 1 in Urban Baltimore, Maryland 
Background
African Americans with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection and kidney disease are at increased risk of end-stage renal disease requiring renal replacement therapy (RRT), particularly in urban areas with high rates of poverty and injection drug use. It is unknown how the widespread use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has affected survival during RRT in this vulnerable population.
Methods
African American patients infected with HIV-1 who required RRT were identified from 2 cohorts that included 4509 Africans Americans infected with HIV-1 who were recruited during the period 1988–2004 in Baltimore, Maryland. Survival after initiation of RRT was compared for those who initiated treatment in the pre-HAART and the HAART eras using Kaplan-Meier curves. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was used to adjust for potential confounders.
Results
RRT was initiated in 162 patients (3.6%) during 10.6 years of follow-up (119 during the HAART era). Compared with patients who started RRT in the pre-HAART era, those in the HAART era were older (P< .001) and more likely to have CD4 cell counts of ≥200 cells/mm3 (P = .01). A total of 126 patients (78%) died during follow-up; among those who initiated RRT during the HAART era, 87 deaths occurred (73%). Median survival time in the pre-HAART era was 22.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.3–30.7); during the HAART era, it was 19.9 months (95% CI, 14.7–26.5; P = .94). In the multiple Cox regression model, factors independently associated with increased mortality included age (hazard ratio [HR], 1.30; 95% CI, 1.06–1.60; P = .01), lower serum albumin level (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.57–0.91; P< .007), lower CD4 cell count (HR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.82–0.99; P< .03), and the lack of HAART (HR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.33–0.82; P = .005).
Conclusions
Older age, lower serum albumin level, lower CD4 cell count, and the lack of HAART are independent predictors of poor survival among African Americans infected with HIV-1 undergoing RRT in a resource-limited urban area. RRT survival was similar in the pre-HAART and HAART eras, likely reflecting inadequate HIV treatment in this population.
doi:10.1086/523728
PMCID: PMC4096866  PMID: 18190325
18.  A Complex Systems Approach to Evaluate HIV Prevention in Metropolitan Areas: Preliminary Implications for Combination Intervention Strategies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44833.
Background
HIV transmission among injecting and non-injecting drug users (IDU, NIDU) is a significant public health problem. Continuing propagation in endemic settings and emerging regional outbreaks have indicated the need for comprehensive and coordinated HIV prevention. We describe the development of a conceptual framework and calibration of an agent-based model (ABM) to examine how combinations of interventions may reduce and potentially eliminate HIV transmission among drug-using populations.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A multidisciplinary team of researchers from epidemiology, sociology, geography, and mathematics developed a conceptual framework based on prior ethnographic and epidemiologic research. An ABM was constructed and calibrated through an iterative design and verification process. In the model, “agents” represent IDU, NIDU, and non-drug users who interact with each other and within risk networks, engaging in sexual and, for IDUs, injection-related risk behavior over time. Agents also interact with simulated HIV prevention interventions (e.g., syringe exchange programs, substance abuse treatment, HIV testing) and initiate antiretroviral treatment (ART) in a stochastic manner. The model was constructed to represent the New York metropolitan statistical area (MSA) population, and calibrated by comparing output trajectories for various outcomes (e.g., IDU/NIDU prevalence, HIV prevalence and incidence) against previously validated MSA-level data. The model closely approximated HIV trajectories in IDU and NIDU observed in New York City between 1992 and 2002, including a linear decrease in HIV prevalence among IDUs. Exploratory results are consistent with empirical studies demonstrating that the effectiveness of a combination of interventions, including syringe exchange expansion and ART provision, dramatically reduced HIV prevalence among IDUs during this time period.
Conclusions/Significance
Complex systems models of adaptive HIV transmission dynamics can be used to identify potential collective benefits of hypothetical combination prevention interventions. Future work will seek to inform novel strategies that may lead to more effective and equitable HIV prevention strategies for drug-using populations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044833
PMCID: PMC3441492  PMID: 23028637
19.  Determinants of Progression to AIDS and Death Following HIV Diagnosis: A Retrospective Cohort Study in Wuhan, China 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83078.
Objective
To identify determinants associated with disease progression and death following human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnosis.
Methods
Disease progression data from the diagnosis of HIV infection or acquiring immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) to February 29, 2012 were retrospectively collected from the national surveillance system databases and the national treatment database in Wuhan, China. Kaplan-Meier method, Logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards model were applied to identify the related factors of progression to AIDS or death following HIV diagnosis.
Results
By the end of February 2012, 181 of 691 HIV infectors developed to AIDS, and 129 of 470 AIDS patients died among whom 289 cases received concurrent HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Compared with men infected through homosexual behavior, injection drug users possessed sharply decreased hazard ratio (HR) for progression to AIDS following HIV diagnosis [HR = 0.31, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.18–0.54, P = 4.01×10−5]. HIV infectors at least 60 years presented 1.15-fold (HR = 2.15, 95% CI, 1.15–4.03, P = 0.017) increased risk to develop AIDS when compared with those aged 17–29 years. Similarly, AIDS patients with diagnosis ages between 50 and 59 years were at a 1.60-fold higher risk of death (HR = 2.60, 95% CI, 1.18–5.72, P = 0.017) compared to those aged 19–29 years. AIDS patients with more CD4+ T-cells within 6 months at diagnosis (cell/µL) presented lower risk of death (HR = 0.29 for 50- vs <50, 95% CI, 0.15–0.59, P = 0.001). The highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) delayed progression to AIDS from HIV diagnosis (HR = 0.15, 95% CI, 0.07–0.34, P = 6.46×10−6) and reduced the risk of death after AIDS diagnosis (HR = 0.02, 95% CI, 0.01–0.04, P = 7.25×10−25).
Conclusions
Progression to AIDS and death following HIV diagnosis differed in age at diagnosis, transmission categories, CD4+ T-cell counts and HAART. Effective interventions should target those at higher risk for morbidity or mortality, ensuring early diagnosis and timely treatment to slow down the disease progression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083078
PMCID: PMC3871665  PMID: 24376638
20.  Switching HIV Treatment in Adults Based on CD4 Count Versus Viral Load Monitoring: A Randomized, Non-Inferiority Trial in Thailand 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001494.
Using a randomized controlled trial, Marc Lallemant and colleagues ask if a CD4-based monitoring and treatment switching strategy provides a similar clinical outcome compared to the standard viral load-based strategy for adults with HIV in Thailand.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Viral load (VL) is recommended for monitoring the response to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) but is not routinely available in most low- and middle-income countries. The purpose of the study was to determine whether a CD4-based monitoring and switching strategy would provide a similar clinical outcome compared to the standard VL-based strategy in Thailand.
Methods and Findings
The Programs for HIV Prevention and Treatment (PHPT-3) non-inferiority randomized clinical trial compared a treatment switching strategy based on CD4-only (CD4) monitoring versus viral-load (VL). Consenting participants were antiretroviral-naïve HIV-infected adults (CD4 count 50–250/mm3) initiating non-nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)-based therapy. Randomization, stratified by site (21 public hospitals), was performed centrally after enrollment. Clinicians were unaware of the VL values of patients randomized to the CD4 arm. Participants switched to second-line combination with confirmed CD4 decline >30% from peak (within 200 cells from baseline) in the CD4 arm, or confirmed VL >400 copies/ml in the VL arm. Primary endpoint was clinical failure at 3 years, defined as death, new AIDS-defining event, or CD4 <50 cells/mm3. The 3-year Kaplan-Meier cumulative risks of clinical failure were compared for non-inferiority with a margin of 7.4%. In the intent to treat analysis, data were censored at the date of death or at last visit. The secondary endpoints were difference in future-drug-option (FDO) score, a measure of resistance profiles, virologic and immunologic responses, and the safety and tolerance of HAART. 716 participants were randomized, 356 to VL monitoring and 360 to CD4 monitoring. At 3 years, 319 participants (90%) in VL and 326 (91%) in CD4 were alive and on follow-up. The cumulative risk of clinical failure was 8.0% (95% CI 5.6–11.4) in VL versus 7.4% (5.1–10.7) in CD4, and the upper-limit of the one-sided 95% CI of the difference was 3.4%, meeting the pre-determined non-inferiority criterion. Probability of switch for study criteria was 5.2% (3.2–8.4) in VL versus 7.5% (5.0–11.1) in CD4 (p = 0.097). Median time from treatment initiation to switch was 11.7 months (7.7–19.4) in VL and 24.7 months (15.9–35.0) in CD4 (p = 0.001). The median duration of viremia >400 copies/ml at switch was 7.2 months (5.8–8.0) in VL versus 15.8 months (8.5–20.4) in CD4 (p = 0.002). FDO scores were not significantly different at time of switch. No adverse events related to the monitoring strategy were reported.
Conclusions
The 3-year rates of clinical failure and loss of treatment options did not differ between strategies although the longer-term consequences of CD4 monitoring would need to be investigated. These results provide reassurance to treatment programs currently based on CD4 monitoring as VL measurement becomes more affordable and feasible in resource-limited settings.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00162682
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 34 million people (most of them living in low-and middle-income countries) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV infection leads to the destruction of immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell), leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected individuals died within 10 years of infection. Then, in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—combined drugs regimens that suppress viral replication and allow restoration of the immune system—became available. For people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition but, because HAART was expensive, HIV/AIDS remained a fatal illness for people living in resource-limited countries. In 2003, the international community declared HIV/AIDS a global health emergency and, in 2006, it set the target of achieving universal global access to HAART by 2010. By the end of 2011, 8 million of the estimated 14.8 million people in need of HAART in low- and middle-income countries were receiving treatment.
Why Was This Study Done?
At the time this trial was conceived, national and international recommendations were that HIV-positive individuals should start HAART when their CD4 count fell below 200 cells/mm3 and should have their CD4 count regularly monitored to optimize HAART. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations were updated to promote expanded eligibility for HAART with a CD4 of 500 cells/mm3 or less for adults, adolescents, and older children although priority is given to individuals with CD4 count of 350 cells/mm3 or less. Because HIV often becomes resistant to first-line antiretroviral drugs, WHO also recommends that viral load—the amount of virus in the blood—should be monitored so that suspected treatment failures can be confirmed and patients switched to second-line drugs in a timely manner. This monitoring and switching strategy is widely used in resource-rich settings, but is still very difficult to implement for low- and middle-income countries where resources for monitoring are limited and access to costly second-line drugs is restricted. In this randomized non-inferiority trial, the researchers compare the performance of a CD4-based treatment monitoring and switching strategy with the standard viral load-based strategy among HIV-positive adults in Thailand. In a randomized trial, individuals are assigned different interventions by the play of chance and followed up to compare the effects of these interventions; a non-inferiority trial investigates whether one treatment is not worse than another.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned about 700 HIV-positive adults who were beginning HAART for the first time to have their CD4 count (CD4 arm) or their CD4 count and viral load (VL arm) determined every 3 months. Participants were switched to a second-line therapy if their CD4 count declined by more than 30% from their peak CD4 count (CD4 arm) or if a viral load of more than 400 copies/ml was recorded (VL arm). The 3-year cumulative risk of clinical failure (defined as death, a new AIDS-defining event, or a CD4 count of less than 50 cells/mm3) was 8% in the VL arm and 7.4% in the CD4 arm. This difference in clinical failure risk met the researchers' predefined criterion for non-inferiority. The probability of a treatment switch was similar in the two arms, but the average time from treatment initiation to treatment switch and the average duration of a high viral load after treatment switch were both longer in the CD4 arm than in the VL arm. Finally, the future-drug-option score, a measure of viral drug resistance profiles, was similar in the two arms at the time of treatment switch.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, in Thailand, a CD4 switching strategy is non-inferior in terms of clinical outcomes among HIV-positive adults 3 years after beginning HAART when compared to the recommended viral load-based switching strategy and that there is no difference between the strategies in terms of viral suppression and immune restoration after 3-years follow-up. Importantly, however, even though patients in the CD4 arm spent longer with a high viral load than patients in the VL arm, the emergence of HIV mutants resistant to antiretroviral drugs was similar in the two arms. Although these findings provide no information about the long-term outcomes of the two monitoring strategies and may not be generalizable to routine care settings, they nevertheless provide reassurance that using CD4 counts alone to monitor HAART in HIV treatment programs in resource-limited settings is an appropriate strategy to use as viral load measurement becomes more affordable and feasible in these settings.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001494.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS (in several languages); its 2010 recommendations for antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in adults and adolescents are available as well as the June 2013 Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection: recommendations for a public health approach
The 2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, on HIV and AIDS in Thailand, on universal access to AIDS treatment, and on starting, monitoring and switching HIV treatment (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about HIV and AIDS
More information about this trial (the PHPT-3 trial) is available
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about HIV treatment
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001494
PMCID: PMC3735458  PMID: 23940461
21.  The Relationships between Injection and Non-injection Drug Use and HIV Disease Progression 
Background
Injection drug use is associated with poor HIV outcomes even among persons receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), but there are limited data on the relationship between non-injection drug use and HIV disease progression.
Methods
We conducted an observational study of HIV-infected persons entering care between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2004, with follow-up through December 31, 2005.
Results
There were 1,712 persons in the study cohort: 262 with a history of injection drug use (IDU), 785 with a history of non-injection drug use, and 665 with no history of drug use; 56% were white, and 24% were females. Median follow-up was 2.1 years, 33% had HAART prior to first visit, 40% initiated first HAART during the study period, and 306 (17.9%) had an AIDS-defining event or died. Adjusting for sex, age, race, prior antiretroviral use, CD4 cell count, and HIV-1 RNA, patients with a history of injection drug use were more likely to advance to AIDS or death than non-users (adjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 1.97, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.43-2.70, P<0.01). There was no statistically significant difference of disease progression between non-injection drug users and non-users (HR=1.19, 95% CI 0.92-1.56, P=0.19). An analysis among the subgroup who initiated their first HAART during the study period (n=687) showed a similar pattern (IDUs: 1.83, 1.09-3.06, P=0.02; non-IDUs: 1.21, 0.81-1.80, P=0.35). Seventy-four patients had active IDU during the study period, 768 active non-IDU, and 870 no substance use. Analyses based on active drug use during the study period did not substantially differ from those based on history of drug use.
Conclusions
This study shows no relationship between non-injection drug use and HIV disease progression. This study is limited by using history drug use and lumping together different types of drugs. Further studies ascertaining specific type and extent of non-injection drug use in a prospective way, and with longer follow-up, are needed.
doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2011.01.007
PMCID: PMC3110534  PMID: 21349679
Injection drug use; non-injection drug use; CD4 cell count; HIV viral load; HIV disease progression; antiretroviral therapy
22.  Gender Differences in Survival among Adult Patients Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa: A Multicentre Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001304.
Morna Cornell and colleagues investigate differences in mortality for HIV-positive men and women on antiretroviral therapy in South Africa.
Background
Increased mortality among men on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been documented but remains poorly understood. We examined the magnitude of and risk factors for gender differences in mortality on ART.
Methods and Findings
Analyses included 46,201 ART-naïve adults starting ART between January 2002 and December 2009 in eight ART programmes across South Africa (SA). Patients were followed from initiation of ART to outcome or analysis closure. The primary outcome was mortality; secondary outcomes were loss to follow-up (LTF), virologic suppression, and CD4+ cell count responses. Survival analyses were used to examine the hazard of death on ART by gender. Sensitivity analyses were limited to patients who were virologically suppressed and patients whose CD4+ cell count reached >200 cells/µl. We compared gender differences in mortality among HIV+ patients on ART with mortality in an age-standardised HIV-negative population.
Among 46,201 adults (65% female, median age 35 years), during 77,578 person-years of follow-up, men had lower median CD4+ cell counts than women (85 versus 110 cells/µl, p<0.001), were more likely to be classified WHO stage III/IV (86 versus 77%, p<0.001), and had higher mortality in crude (8.5 versus 5.7 deaths/100 person-years, p<0.001) and adjusted analyses (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 1.31, 95% CI 1.22–1.41). After 36 months on ART, men were more likely than women to be truly LTF (AHR 1.20, 95% CI 1.12–1.28) but not to die after LTF (AHR 1.04, 95% CI 0.86–1.25). Findings were consistent across all eight programmes. Virologic suppression was similar by gender; women had slightly better immunologic responses than men. Notably, the observed gender differences in mortality on ART were smaller than gender differences in age-standardised death rates in the HIV-negative South African population. Over time, non-HIV mortality appeared to account for an increasing proportion of observed mortality. The analysis was limited by missing data on baseline HIV disease characteristics, and we did not observe directly mortality in HIV-negative populations where the participating cohorts were located.
Conclusions
HIV-infected men have higher mortality on ART than women in South African programmes, but these differences are only partly explained by more advanced HIV disease at the time of ART initiation, differential LTF and subsequent mortality, and differences in responses to treatment. The observed differences in mortality on ART may be best explained by background differences in mortality between men and women in the South African population unrelated to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
About 34 million people (most living in low- and middle-income countries) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected people died within 10 years of becoming infected. Then, in 1996, antiretroviral therapy (ART)—cocktails of drugs that keep HIV in check—became available. For people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition. However, ART was expensive and, for people living in poorer countries, HIV/AIDS remained a fatal illness. In 2003, this situation was declared a global emergency, and governments and international agencies began to implement plans to increase ART coverage in resource-limited countries. Since then, ART programs in these countries have grown rapidly. In South Africa, for example, about 52% of the 3.14 million adults in need of ART were receiving an ART regimen recommended by the World Health Organization by the end of 2010.
Why Was This Study Done?
The outcomes of ART programs in resource-limited countries need to be evaluated thoroughly so that these programs can be optimized. One area of concern to ART providers is that of gender differences in survival among patients receiving treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, men are more likely to die than women while receiving ART. This gender difference in mortality may arise because men initiating ART in many African ART programs have more advanced HIV disease than women (early ART initiation is associated with better outcomes than late initiation) or because men are more likely to be lost to follow-up than women (failure to continue treatment is associated with death). Other possible explanations for gender differentials in mortality on ART include gender differences in immunologic and virologic responses to treatment (increased numbers of immune system cells and reduced amounts of virus in the blood, respectively). In this multicenter cohort study, the researchers examine the size of, and risk factors for, gender differences in mortality on ART in South Africa by examining data collected from adults starting ART at International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS South Africa (IeDEA-SA) collaboration sites.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected from 46,201 ART-naïve adults who started ART between 2002 and 2009 in eight IeDEA-SA ART programs. At ART initiation, men had a lower CD4 count on average and were more likely to have advanced HIV disease than women. During the study, after allowing for factors likely to affect mortality such as HIV disease stage at initiation, men on ART had a 31% higher risk of dying than women. Men were more likely to be lost to follow-up than women, but men and women who were lost to follow-up were equally likely to die. Women had a slightly better immunological response to ART than men but virologic suppression was similar in both genders. Importantly, in analyses of mortality limited to individuals who were virologically suppressed at 12 months and to patients who had a good immunological response to ART, men still had a higher risk of death than women. However, the gender differences in mortality on ART were smaller than the gender differences in age-standardized mortality in the HIV-negative South African population.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These analyses show that among South African patients initiating ART between 2002 and 2009, men were more likely to die than women but that this gender difference in mortality on ART cannot be completely explained by gender differences in baseline characteristics, loss to follow-up, or virologic and/or immunologic responses. Instead, the observed gender differences in mortality can best be explained by background gender differences in mortality in the whole South African population. Because substantial amounts of data were missing in this study (for example, HIV disease stage was not available for all the patients), these findings need to be interpreted cautiously. Moreover, similar studies need to be done in other settings to investigate whether they are generalizable to the South African national ART program and to other countries. If confirmed, however, these findings suggest that the root causes of gender differences in mortality on ART may be unrelated to HIV/AIDS or to the characteristics of ART programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001304.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
Information on the treatment of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is available from the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV/AIDS treatment and care, and on HIV/AIDS in South Africa (in English and Spanish)
WHO provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment (in several languages); its 2010 ART guidelines can be downloaded
Information about the IeDEA-SA collaboration is available
The Treatment Action Campaign provides information on antiretroviral therapy and South African HIV statistics
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about taking anti-HIV drugs and the challenges of anti-HIV drugs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001304
PMCID: PMC3433409  PMID: 22973181
23.  Pretreatment CD4 Cell Slope and Progression to AIDS or Death in HIV-Infected Patients Initiating Antiretroviral Therapy—The CASCADE Collaboration: A Collaboration of 23 Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000239.
Analyzing data from several thousand cohort study participants, Marcel Wolbers and colleagues find that the rate of CD4 T cell decline is not useful in deciding when to start HIV treatment.
Background
CD4 cell count is a strong predictor of the subsequent risk of AIDS or death in HIV-infected patients initiating combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). It is not known whether the rate of CD4 cell decline prior to therapy is related to prognosis and should, therefore, influence the decision on when to initiate cART.
Methods and Findings
We carried out survival analyses of patients from the 23 cohorts of the CASCADE (Concerted Action on SeroConversion to AIDS and Death in Europe) collaboration with a known date of HIV seroconversion and with at least two CD4 measurements prior to initiating cART. For each patient, a pre-cART CD4 slope was estimated using a linear mixed effects model. Our primary outcome was time from initiating cART to a first new AIDS event or death. We included 2,820 treatment-naïve patients initiating cART with a median (interquartile range) pre-cART CD4 cell decline of 61 (46–81) cells/µl per year; 255 patients subsequently experienced a new AIDS event or death and 125 patients died. In an analysis adjusted for established risk factors, the hazard ratio for AIDS or death was 1.01 (95% confidence interval 0.97–1.04) for each 10 cells/µl per year reduction in pre-cART CD4 cell decline. There was also no association between pre-cART CD4 cell slope and survival. Alternative estimates of CD4 cell slope gave similar results. In 1,731 AIDS-free patients with >350 CD4 cells/µl from the pre-cART era, the rate of CD4 cell decline was also not significantly associated with progression to AIDS or death (hazard ratio 0.99, 95% confidence interval 0.94–1.03, for each 10 cells/µl per year reduction in CD4 cell decline).
Conclusions
The CD4 cell slope does not improve the prediction of clinical outcome in patients with a CD4 cell count above 350 cells/µl. Knowledge of the current CD4 cell count is sufficient when deciding whether to initiate cART in asymptomatic patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
More than 30 million people are currently infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Most people who become infected with HIV do not become ill immediately although some develop a short flu-like illness shortly after infection. This illness is called “seroconversion” illness because it coincides with the appearance of antibodies to HIV in the blood. The next stage of HIV infection has no major symptoms and may last up to 10 years. During this time, HIV slowly destroys immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte). Without treatment, the immune system loses the ability to fight off infections by other disease-causing organisms and HIV-positive people then develop so-called opportunistic infections, Kaposi sarcoma (a skin cancer), or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes) that determine the diagnosis of AIDS. Although HIV-positive people used to die within 10 years of infection on average, the development in 1996 of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART; cocktails of powerful antiretroviral drugs) means that, at least for people living in developed countries, HIV/AIDS is now a chronic, treatable condition.
Why Was This Study Done?
The number of CD4 cells in the blood is a strong predictor of the likelihood of AIDS or death in untreated HIV-positive individuals and in people starting cART. Current guidelines recommend, therefore, that cART is started in HIV-positive patients without symptoms when their CD4 cell count drops below a specified cutoff level (typically 350 cells/µl.) In addition, several guidelines suggest that clinicians should also consider cART in symptom-free HIV-positive patients with a CD4 cell count above the cutoff level if their CD4 cell count has rapidly declined. However, it is not actually known whether the rate of CD4 cell decline (so-called “CD4 slope”) before initiating cART is related to a patient's outcome, so should clinicians consider this measurement when deciding whether to initiate cART? In this study, the researchers use data from CASCADE (Concerted Action on SeroConversion to AIDS and Death in Europe), a large collaborative study of 23 groups of HIV-positive individuals whose approximate date of HIV infection is known, to answer this question.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers undertook survival analyses of patients in the CASCADE collaboration for whom at least two CD4 cell counts had been recorded before starting cART. They calculated a pre-cART CD4 cell count slope from these counts and used statistical methods to investigate whether there was an association between the rate of decline in CD4 cell count and the time from initiating cART to the primary outcome—a first new AIDS-defining event or death. 2820 HIV-positive patients initiating cART were included in the study; the average pre-cART CD4 cell decline among them was 61 cells/µl/year. 255 of the patients experienced a new AIDS-related event or died after starting cART but the researchers found no evidence for an association between the primary outcome and the pre-cART CD4 slope or between survival and this slope. In addition, the rate of CD4 cell count decline was not significantly associated with progression to AIDS or death among 1731 HIV-positive, symptom-free patients with CD4 cell counts above 350 cells/µl who were studied before cART was developed.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that knowledge of the rate of CD4 cell count decline will not improve the prediction of clinical outcome in HIV-positive patients with a CD4 cell count above 350 cells/µl. Indeed, the findings show that the rate of CD4 cell decline in individual patients is highly variable over time. Consequently, a rate measured at one time cannot be used to reliably predict a patient's future CD4 cell count. Because this was an observational study, patients with the greatest rate of decline in their CD4 cell count might have received better care than other patients, a possibility that would lessen the effect of the rate of CD4 cell count decline on outcomes. Nevertheless, the findings of this study strongly suggest that knowledge of the current CD4 cell count and an assessment of other established risk factors for progression to AIDS are sufficient when deciding whether to initiate cART in symptom-free HIV-positive patients.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000239.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on treatments and treatment guidelines
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on treatments for HIV and AIDS, when to start treatment, and the stages of HIV infection (in English and Spanish)
Information on CASCADE is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000239
PMCID: PMC2826377  PMID: 20186270
24.  Role of sexual transmission of HIV among young non-injection and injection opiate users: A respondent driven sampling study 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2011;38(12):1161-1166.
Background
Little research has investigated sexual transmissibility of HIV among young drug users in China. The objective of this study was to examine the role of sexual transmission on HIV infection among injection drug users (IDUs) and non-injection drug users (NIDUs).
Methods
Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) was used to recruit 426 young heroin/opium drug users in Yunnan, China. Logistic regression modeling was performed to examine interrelationships among risky sexual behaviors, drug-use modes, and drug-use practices.
Results
Substantial proportions of NIDUs and IDUs reported engagement in risky sexual behaviors including: (1) multiple sexual partners (42% of NIDUs vs. 37% of IDUs); (2) concurrent sexual partnerships (48% vs. 46%); (3) commercial sex partners (23% vs. 24%) and sex partners who were NIDUs (14% vs. 17 %). Both NIDUs and IDUs reported low levels of condom use with non-regular partners (48% vs. 42%) and regular partner (24% vs. 27%), and having a history of recent methamphetamine use (21% vs. 18%). Compared to IDUs, NIDUs reported having had fewer sex partners who were IDUs, fewer IDU network peers, more NIDU network peers, and having lower levels of HIV knowledge and self-perceived HIV risk.
Conclusions
Generalization of the HIV epidemic from high-risk groups to the general population may be driven by risky sexual behavior among drug users. Reducing sexual transmission of HIV among both IDUs and NIDUs is the next major challenge for HIV intervention among drug users in China.
doi:10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3182315772
PMCID: PMC3229029  PMID: 22082729
HIV; Injection drug use; Non-Injection drug use; Sexual behavior; China
25.  PRE-EXISTING ALBUMINURIA PREDICTS AIDS AND NON-AIDS MORTALITY IN WOMEN INITIATING ANTIRETROVIRAL THERAPY 
Antiviral therapy  2011;16(4):591-596.
Background
We previously reported an increased risk of all-cause and AIDS mortality among HIV-infected women with albuminuria (proteinuria or microalbuminuria) enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) prior to the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Methods
The current analysis includes 1,073 WIHS participants who subsequently initiated HAART. Urinalysis for proteinuria and semi-quantitative testing for microalbuminuria from two consecutive study visits prior to HAART initiation were categorized as follows: confirmed proteinuria (both specimens positive for protein), confirmed microalbuminuria (both specimens positive with at least one microalbuminuria), unconfirmed albuminuria (one specimen positive for proteinuria or microalbuminuria), or negative (both specimens negative). Time from HAART initiation to death was modeled using proportional hazards analysis.
Results
Compared to the reference group of women with two negative specimens, the hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality was significantly elevated for women with confirmed microalbuminuria (HR 1.9; 95% CI 1.2–2.9). Confirmed microalbuminuria was also independently associated with AIDS death (HR 2.3; 95% CI 1.3–4.3), while women with confirmed proteinuria were at increased risk for non-AIDS death (HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.2–4.6).
Conclusions
In women initiating HAART, pre-existing microalbuminuria independently predicted increased AIDS mortality, while pre-existing proteinuria predicted increased risk of non-AIDS death. Urine testing may identify HIV-infected individuals at increased risk for mortality even after the initiation of HAART. Future studies should consider whether these widely available tests can identify individuals who would benefit from more aggressive management of HIV infection and comorbid conditions associated with mortality in this population.
doi:10.3851/IMP1766
PMCID: PMC3119869  PMID: 21685547
HIV; microalbuminuria; proteinuria; mortality; non-AIDS death

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