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1.  Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men Who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e452.
Street-based heroin injectors represent an especially vulnerable population group subject to negative health outcomes and social stigma. Effective clinical treatment and public health intervention for this population requires an understanding of their cultural environment and experiences. Social science theory and methods offer tools to understand the reasons for economic and ethnic disparities that cause individual suffering and stress at the institutional level.
Methods and Findings
We used a cross-methodological approach that incorporated quantitative, clinical, and ethnographic data collected by two contemporaneous long-term San Francisco studies, one epidemiological and one ethnographic, to explore the impact of ethnicity on street-based heroin-injecting men 45 years of age or older who were self-identified as either African American or white. We triangulated our ethnographic findings by statistically examining 14 relevant epidemiological variables stratified by median age and ethnicity. We observed significant differences in social practices between self-identified African Americans and whites in our ethnographic social network sample with respect to patterns of (1) drug consumption; (2) income generation; (3) social and institutional relationships; and (4) personal health and hygiene. African Americans and whites tended to experience different structural relationships to their shared condition of addiction and poverty. Specifically, this generation of San Francisco injectors grew up as the children of poor rural to urban immigrants in an era (the late 1960s through 1970s) when industrial jobs disappeared and heroin became fashionable. This was also when violent segregated inner city youth gangs proliferated and the federal government initiated its “War on Drugs.” African Americans had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families. Most of the whites were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime. These historical-structural conditions generated distinct presentations of self. Whites styled themselves as outcasts, defeated by addiction. They professed to be injecting heroin to stave off “dopesickness” rather than to seek pleasure. African Americans, in contrast, cast their physical addiction as an oppositional pursuit of autonomy and pleasure. They considered themselves to be professional outlaws and rejected any appearance of abjection. Many, but not all, of these ethnographic findings were corroborated by our epidemiological data, highlighting the variability of behaviors within ethnic categories.
Bringing quantitative and qualitative methodologies and perspectives into a collaborative dialog among cross-disciplinary researchers highlights the fact that clinical practice must go beyond simple racial or cultural categories. A clinical social science approach provides insights into how sociocultural processes are mediated by historically rooted and institutionally enforced power relations. Recognizing the logical underpinnings of ethnically specific behavioral patterns of street-based injectors is the foundation for cultural competence and for successful clinical relationships. It reduces the risk of suboptimal medical care for an exceptionally vulnerable and challenging patient population. Social science approaches can also help explain larger-scale patterns of health disparities; inform new approaches to structural and institutional-level public health initiatives; and enable clinicians to take more leadership in changing public policies that have negative health consequences.
Bourgois and colleagues found that the African American and white men in their study had a different pattern of drug use and risk behaviors, adopted different strategies for survival, and had different personal histories.
Editors' Summary
There are stark differences in the health of different ethnic groups in America. For example, the life expectancy for white men is 75.4 years, but it is only 69.2 years for African-American men. The reasons behind these disparities are unclear, though there are several possible explanations. Perhaps, for example, different ethnic groups are treated differently by health professionals (with some groups receiving poorer quality health care). Or maybe the health disparities are due to differences across ethnic groups in income level (we know that richer people are healthier). These disparities are likely to persist unless we gain a better understanding of how they arise.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to study the health of a very vulnerable community of people: heroin users living on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health status of this community is extremely poor, and its members are highly stigmatized—including by health professionals themselves. The researchers wanted to know whether African American men and white men who live on the streets have a different pattern of drug use, whether they adopt varying strategies for survival, and whether they have different personal histories. Knowledge of such differences would help the health community to provide more tailored and culturally appropriate interventions. Physicians, nurses, and social workers often treat street-based drug users, especially in emergency rooms and free clinics. These health professionals regularly report that their interactions with street-based drug users are frustrating and confrontational. The researchers hoped that their study would help these professionals to have a better understanding of the cultural backgrounds and motivations of their drug-using patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Over the course of six years, the researchers directly observed about 70 men living on the streets who injected heroin as they went about their usual lives (this type of research is called “participant observation”). The researchers specifically looked to see whether there were differences between the white and African American men. All the men gave their consent to be studied in this way and to be photographed. The researchers also studied a database of interviews with almost 7,000 injection drug users conducted over five years, drawing out the data on differences between white and African men. The researchers found that the white men were more likely to supplement their heroin use with inexpensive fortified wine, while African American men were more likely to supplement heroin with crack. Most of the white men were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime, and these men tended to consider themselves as destitute outcasts. African American men had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families, and these men tended to consider themselves as professional outlaws. The white men persevered less in attempting to find a vein in which to inject heroin, and so were more likely to inject the drug directly under the skin—this meant that they were more likely to suffer from skin abscesses. The white men generated most of their income from panhandling (begging for money), while the African American men generated most of their income through petty crime and/or through offering services such as washing car windows at gas stations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Among street-based heroin users, there are important differences between white men and African American men in the type of drugs used, the method of drug use, their social backgrounds, the way in which they identify themselves, and the health risks that they take. By understanding these differences, health professionals should be better placed to provide tailored and appropriate care when these men present to clinics and emergency rooms. As the researchers say, “understanding of different ethnic populations of drug injectors may reduce difficult clinical interactions and resultant physician frustration while improving patient access and adherence to care.” One limitation of this study is that the researchers studied one specific community in one particular area of the US—so we should not assume that their findings would apply to street-based heroin users elsewhere.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a web page on HIV prevention among injection drug users
The World Health Organization has collected documents on reducing the risk of HIV in injection drug users and on harm reduction approaches
The International Harm Reduction Association has information relevant to a global audience on reducing drug-related harm among individuals and communities
US-focused information on harm reduction is available via the websites of the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Chicago Recovery Alliance
Canada-focused information can be found at the Street Works Web site
The Harm Reduction Journal publishes open-access articles
The CDC has a web page on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities
The Drug Policy Alliance has a web page on drug policy in the United States
PMCID: PMC1621100  PMID: 17076569
2.  A Model for Interprofessional Health Disparities Education: Student-Led Curriculum on Chronic Hepatitis B Infection 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2010;25(Suppl 2):140-145.
Although health disparities are commonly addressed in preclinical didactic curricula, direct patient care activities with affected communities are more limited.
To address this problem, health professional students designed a preclinical service-learning curriculum on hepatitis B viral (HBV) infection, a major health disparity affecting the Asian/Pacific Islander (API) population, integrating lectures, skills training, and direct patient care at student-run clinics.
An urban health professions campus.
Medical and other health professional students at University of California, San Francisco, organized a preclinical didactic and experiential elective, and established two monthly clinics offering HBV screening, vaccination, and education to the community.
Between 2004 and 2009, 477 students enrolled in the student-led HBV curriculum. Since the clinics’ inception in 2007, 804 patients have been screened for chronic HBV; 87% were API immigrants, 63% had limited English proficiency, and 46% were uninsured. Serologically, 10% were found to be chronic HBV carriers, 44% were susceptible to HBV, and 46% were immune.
Our student-led didactic and experiential elective can serve as an interprofessional curricular model for learning about specific health disparities while providing important services to the local community.
PMCID: PMC2847097  PMID: 20352509
medical education-undergraduate; underserved populations; medical education-curriculum development/evaluation; disparities; community based interventions; student-run clinic
3.  Gateway to Care campaign: a public health initiative to reduce the burden of hepatitis B in Haimen City, China 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):754.
An estimated one million people worldwide die each year from complications of chronic hepatitis B infection (CHB), including liver cancer. A disproportionate number of infections and deaths occur in China. The incidence and mortality of liver cancer in Haimen City is among the highest in China, and in the world. A multi-year citywide campaign was aimed at eliminating hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and significantly reducing the number of liver cancer deaths due to CHB in Haimen City, China.
Strategies included a public health information campaign targeting the 1.03 million city residents; specialized health education for leaders and providers to increase adoption of evidence-based HBV management protocols; establishment of health care infrastructure and management systems; and increased prevention and care delivery to key subpopulations (especially pregnant women).
The project developed and deployed broad-reaching public awareness and health education tools and modules to 280,000 households and at community-based events. More than 90% of targeted healthcare providers and 80% of the community leaders/government officials attended educational seminars during the project period (1,441 health care providers; 1,883 local government officials). A centralized registration and management system for pregnant women was developed and instituted, 100% of pregnant women were enrolled (5,407 women over one year), and all infants born to HBV-infected mothers received one dose of HBIG and the first dose of HBV vaccine by 24 hours of birth.
Lessons from the implementation phase of the project include the importance of: gaining early and ongoing support from the local government and health bureau for success in reaching the targeted populations; and having project management by a local, experienced, and trusted health expert to navigate implementation and relationships, and help develop culturally and linguistically appropriate materials.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-754) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4124160  PMID: 25064309
Chronic hepatitis B infection; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Perinatal hepatitis B; Prevention; Health education campaign; Hepatitis B screening; Hepatitis B vaccination; Haimen City, China
4.  Clean Indoor Air in El Paso, Texas: A Case Study 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2004;2(1):A22.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is an important preventable cause of illness and death. A Smoke-Free Paso del Norte Coalition in El Paso, Texas, led a drive to introduce an ordinance to protect nonsmoking persons from the health effects of secondhand smoke in public places. The ordinance was introduced in April 2001 and was passed on June 26, 2001.
El Paso is the fifth largest city in Texas and the largest border city in the United States. It is the 10th poorest city in the United States; 37% of its residents do not have health insurance. Seventy-eight percent of El Paso's residents are Hispanic/Latino. A large percentage of El Paso's restaurant and bar workers are recent immigrants from Mexico.
Campaign activities included a letter-writing campaign to the El Paso Times, petition gathering, community outreach education, meetings with city council members, print and television advertising, a proactive media advocacy campaign, and a youth rally.
One month after the ordinance went into effect, an opinion poll found solid support for the new ordinance. Another survey conducted in December 2002 also found a 22% decline in adult smoking, from 22.1% in 1996 to 17.3% at the time of the survey.
The El Paso campaign is an example of a successful grassroots campaign. El Paso's campaign relied on direct organizing to identify, recruit, and mobilize supporters, and involved relatively little paid media or paid advocacy efforts. These lessons are transferable to other communities, and the El Paso coalition serves as a model for developing a diverse, representative coalition in a predominantly Mexican American community.
PMCID: PMC1323325  PMID: 15670475
5.  Survival following non-small cell lung cancer among Asian/Pacific Islander, Latina, and non-Hispanic White women who have never smoked 
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among US Asian/Pacific Islander (API) and Latina women, despite low smoking prevalence. This study examined survival patterns following non-small cell lung cancer in a population-based sample of lung cancer cases from the San Francisco Bay Area Lung Cancer Study (SFBALCS).
Women diagnosed with lung cancer from 1998–2003 and 2005–2008 and identified through the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry were telephone-screened for eligibility for the SFBALCS. The screener data were linked to the cancer registry data to determine follow-up. This analysis included 187 non-Hispanic White, 23 US-born Latina, 32 foreign-born Latina, 30 US-born API, and 190 foreign-born API never smokers diagnosed with lung cancer and followed through 2008.
All-cause survival was poorer among APIs (hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.7 (1.0–2.8) among US-born APIs; 1.2 (0.9–1.5) among foreign-born APIs), and Latinas (HR (95% CI) = 2.1 (1.2–3.6) among US-born Latinas; 1.4 (0.9–2.3) among foreign-born Latinas), relative to non-Hispanic Whites. These survival differences were not explained by differences in selected sociodemographic or clinical factors.
Further research should focus on factors such as cultural behaviors, access to or attitudes toward health care, and genetic variations, as possible explanations for these striking racial/ethnic differences.
Latina and API female never smokers diagnosed with lung cancer were up to two-times more likely to die than non-Hispanic Whites, highlighting the need for additional research to identify the underlying reasons for the disparities, as well as heightened clinical awareness.
PMCID: PMC3070404  PMID: 21239685
lung cancer survival; Asian; Latina; Hispanic; never smokers; nativity
6.  A Comprehensive Screening And Treatment Model For Reducing Disparities In Hepatitis B 
Health Affairs (Project Hope)  2011;30(10):1974-1983.
Chronic hepatitis B affects Asian Americans at a much higher rate than the general US population. Appropriate care can limit morbidity and mortality from hepatitis B. However, access to care for many Asian Americans and other immigrant groups is limited by their lack of knowledge about the disease, as well as cultural, linguistic, and financial challenges. This article describes the results of BfreeNYC, a New York City pilot program that, from 2004 to 2008, provided hepatitis B community education and awareness, free screening and vaccinations, and free or low-cost treatment primarily to immigrants from Asia, but also to residents from other racial and ethnic minority groups. The program was the largest citywide screening program in the United States, reaching nearly 9,000 people, and the only one providing comprehensive care to those who were infected. During the program, new hepatitis B cases reported annually from predominantly Asian neighborhoods in the city increased 34 percent. More than two thousand people were vaccinated; 57 percent of the 1,162 patients who tested positive for hepatitis B and were evaluated by program clinical services were still in care at the end of the program. Our analysis found that the program was effective in reaching the target population and providing care. Although follow-up care data will be needed to demonstrate long-term costeffectiveness, the program may serve as a useful prototype for addressing hepatitis B disparities in communities across the United States.
PMCID: PMC3333793  PMID: 21976342
7.  Successful Promotion of Hepatitis B Vaccinations Among Vietnamese-American Children Ages 3 to 18: Results of a Controlled Trial 
Pediatrics  2003;111(6 Pt 1):1278-1288.
Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus is endemic in Southeast Asian populations, including Vietnamese. Previous research has documented low rates of hepatitis B vaccine coverage among Vietnamese-American children and adolescents ages 3 to 18. To address this problem, we designed and tested in a controlled trial 2 public health outreach “catch-up” campaigns for this population.
In the Houston, Texas metropolitan area, we mounted a media-led information and education campaign, and in the Dallas metropolitan area, we organized a community mobilization strategy. We evaluated the success of these interventions in a controlled trial, using the Washington, DC metropolitan area as a control site. To do so, we conducted computer-assisted telephone interviews with random samples of ~500 Vietnamese-American households in each of the 3 study sites both before and after the interventions. We assessed respondents’ awareness and knowledge of hepatitis B and asked for hepatitis B vaccination dates for a randomly selected child in each household. When possible, we validated vaccination dates through direct contact with each child’s providers.
Awareness of hepatitis B increased significantly between the pre- and postintervention surveys in all 3 areas, and the increase in the media education area (+21.5 percentage points) was significantly larger than in the control area (+9.0 percentage points). At postintervention, significantly more parents knew that free vaccines were available for children in the media education (+31.9 percentage points) and community mobilization (+16.7 percentage points) areas than in the control area (+4.7 percentage points). An increase in knowledge of sexual transmission of hepatitis B virus was significant in the media education area (+14.0 percentage points) and community mobilization (+13.6 percentage points) areas compared with the control area (+5.2 percentage points). Parent- or provider-reported data (n = 783 for pre- and n = 784 for postintervention surveys) suggest that receipt of 3 hepatitis B vaccinations increased significantly in the community mobilization area (from 26.6% at pre- to 38.8% at postintervention) and in the media intervention area (28.5% at pre- and 39.4% at postintervention), but declined slightly in the control community (37.8% at pre- and 33.5% at postintervention). Multiple logistic regression analyses estimated that the odds of receiving 3 hepatitis B vaccine doses were significantly greater for both community mobilization (odds ratio 2.15, 95% confidence interval 1.16–3.97) and media campaign (odds ratio 3.02, 95% confidence interval 1.62–5.64) interventions compared with the control area. The odds of being vaccinated were significantly greater for children who had had at least 1 diphtheria-tetanuspertussis shot, and whose parents were married, knew someone with liver disease, had heard of hepatitis B, and had greater knowledge about hepatitis B. The odds of being vaccinated were significantly lower for older children.
Both community mobilization and media campaigns significantly increased the knowledge of Vietnamese-American parents about hepatitis B vaccination, and the receipt of “catch-up” vaccinations among their children.
PMCID: PMC1592334  PMID: 12777542
hepatitis B vaccination; catch-up; Vietnamese-Americans; HBV, hepatitis B virus; HepB, hepatitis B vaccine; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; DTP, diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and pertussis; VFC, Vaccines for Children; EDCC, East Dallas Counseling Center; OR, odds ratio; CI, confidence interval
8.  Violent Deaths of Iraqi Civilians, 2003–2008: Analysis by Perpetrator, Weapon, Time, and Location 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1000415.
Madelyn Hsiao-Rei Hicks and colleagues provide a detailed analysis of Iraqi civilian violent deaths during 2003-2008 of the Iraq war and show that of 92,614 deaths, unknown perpetrators caused 74% of deaths, Coalition forces 12%, and Anti-Coalition forces 11%.
Armed violence is a major public health and humanitarian problem in Iraq. In this descriptive statistical analysis we aimed to describe for the first time Iraqi civilian deaths caused by perpetrators of armed violence during the first 5 years of the Iraq war: over time; by weapon used; by region (governorate); and by victim demographics.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed the Iraq Body Count database of 92,614 Iraqi civilian direct deaths from armed violence occurring from March 20, 2003 through March 19, 2008, of which Unknown perpetrators caused 74% of deaths (n = 68,396), Coalition forces 12% (n = 11,516), and Anti-Coalition forces 11% (n = 9,954). We analyzed the subset of 60,481 civilian deaths from 14,196 short-duration events of lethal violence to link individual civilian deaths to events involving perpetrators and their methods. One-third of civilian violent death was from extrajudicial executions by Unknown perpetrators; quadratic regression shows these deaths progressively and disproportionately increased as deaths from other forms of violence increased across Iraq's governorates. The highest average number of civilians killed per event in which a civilian died were in Unknown perpetrator suicide bombings targeting civilians (19 per lethal event) and Coalition aerial bombings (17 per lethal event). In temporal analysis, numbers of civilian deaths from Coalition air attacks, and woman and child deaths from Coalition forces, peaked during the invasion. We applied a Woman and Child “Dirty War Index” (DWI), measuring the proportion of women and children among civilian deaths of known demographic status, to the 22,066 civilian victims identified as men, women, or children to indicate relatively indiscriminate perpetrator effects. DWI findings suggest the most indiscriminate effects on women and children were from Unknown perpetrators using mortar fire (DWI  = 79) and nonsuicide vehicle bombs (DWI  = 54) and from Coalition air attacks (DWI  = 69). Coalition forces had higher Woman and Child DWIs than Anti-Coalition forces, with no evidence of decrease over 2003–2008, for all weapons combined and for small arms gunfire, specifically.
Most Iraqi civilian violent deaths during 2003–2008 of the Iraq war were inflicted by Unknown perpetrators, primarily through extrajudicial executions that disproportionately increased in regions with greater numbers of violent deaths. Unknown perpetrators using suicide bombs, vehicle bombs, and mortars had highly lethal and indiscriminate effects on the Iraqi civilians they targeted. Deaths caused by Coalition forces of Iraqi civilians, women, and children peaked during the invasion period, with relatively indiscriminate effects from aerial weapons.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Civilian deaths through armed violence is a public health and humanitarian problem in all wars, despite internationally agreed humanitarian standards regarding the treatment of civilians during wars—so-called laws of war such as the Geneva Conventions. Since the Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, when a multilateral force led by US and UK troops invaded Iraq, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians (women, children, noncombatants, and police carrying out nonparamilitary duties) have died because of armed violence, according to the Iraq Body Count (IBC), a nongovernmental project that collates media reports of deaths of individual Iraqi civilians and cross-checks these reports with data from hospitals, morgues, nongovernmental organizations, and official figures. Indeed, according to a recent assessment of the global burden of armed violence, in 2006, people living in Iraq had the highest risk of dying violently in conflict. In that year, there were 91 violent deaths per 100,000 people in the country.
Why Was This Study Done?
Detailed analysis of civilian deaths during wars is important because it can improve the understanding of the impact of these deaths on general public health and on vulnerable subgroups in the population. In addition, data collected on the nature and effects of violence can guide the development of preventative policies. For example, an analysis that reveals that air attacks by invading troops cause a high proportion of civilian deaths might encourage policy changes that prohibit air attacks on populated areas. Finally, by linking violent deaths to perpetrators, analyses of civilian deaths can provide an indicator of combatants' compliance with the laws of war, which require the protection of civilians from targeted or indiscriminate harm. Here, IBC researchers provide a descriptive statistical analysis of Iraqi civilian deaths directly caused by perpetrators of armed violence during the first 5 years of the Iraq war.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
According to data from the Iraq Body Count, more than 92,000 Iraqi civilians died because of armed violence during this period. Coalition forces (identified by uniforms) caused 12% of these deaths, anti-coalition forces (un-uniformed combatants identified by attacks on coalition targets) caused 11% of the deaths; and unknown perpetrators, who targeted civilians and were indistinguishable from their victims (for example, a suicide bomber in a market), were responsible for three-quarters of civilian deaths. To link individual deaths with perpetrators and their methods, the researchers analyzed the 60,481 civilian deaths caused by short-duration events of lethal violence (events that lasted less than 24 hours and that occurred in a specific location; for example, overnight air strikes). Extrajudicial executions by unknown perpetrators were responsible for one-third of these deaths and disproportionately increased as deaths from other forms of violence increased across Iraq. Unknown perpetrator suicide bombings that targeted civilians and coalition aerial bombings killed most civilians per lethal event (19 and 17 deaths per lethal event on average, respectively). Finally, the researchers calculated the proportion of women and children among civilian deaths. Because men are the main targets of armed violence, this proportion—the “Dirty War Index” (DWI)—indicates the scale of indiscriminate killing in a conflict. The most indiscriminate effects on women and children in Iraq were from unknown perpetrators firing mortars (DWI  = 79) and nonsuicide vehicle bombs (DWI  = 54), and from coalition air attacks (DWI  = 69). Coalition forces had a higher DWI than anti-coalition forces for all weapons combined, with no decrease over the study period.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that during the first 5 years of the Iraq war, civilian deaths varied over time and location and in terms of victim characteristics and targeting of civilians. Although limited to direct deaths and possibly subject to some media bias, these findings show that most civilian deaths were inflicted by unknown perpetrators, and that unknown perpetrators had particularly lethal and indiscriminate effects on Iraqi civilians. However, they also show that Coalition forces had indiscriminate lethal effects on civilian populations. In part, this may be because Coalition forces had a high risk of killing civilians accidentally because they could not easily recognize anti-coalition combatants fighting without uniforms among civilians. Nevertheless, the relatively indiscriminate effects of Coalition aerial weapons highlight the need to change policies relating to the use of air power in future armed conflicts.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Robert Muggah
The International Committee of the Red Cross provides information about war and International humanitarian law (in several languages)
The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development Web site provides information on the global burden of armed violence
More details on the Iraq Body Count are available
The Human Security Report Project tracks global and regional trends in organized violence, their causes, and consequences
Every Casualty supports and is a resource for the documentation of individual casualties of armed conflict
PMCID: PMC3039690  PMID: 21358813
9.  Epidemiology of the Viral Hepatitis-HIV Syndemic in San Francisco: A Collaborative Surveillance Approach 
Public Health Reports  2014;129(Suppl 1):95-101.
To describe the epidemiology of people coinfected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV in San Francisco, the San Francisco Department of Public Health's Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Section and the HIV Epidemiology Section collaborated to link their registries.
In San Francisco, hepatitis reporting is primarily through passive laboratory-based surveillance, and HIV/AIDS reporting is primarily through laboratory-initiated active surveillance. We conducted the registry linkage in 2010 using a sequential algorithm.
The registry match included 31,997 HBV-infected people who were reported starting in 1984; 10,121 HCV-infected people who were reported starting in 2001; and 34,551 HIV/AIDS cases reported beginning in 1981. Of the HBV and HCV cases, 6.3% and 12.6% were coinfected with HIV, respectively. The majority of cases were white males; however, black people were disproportionately affected. For more than 90% of the HBV/HIV cases, male-to-male sexual contact (men who have sex with men [MSM]) was the risk factor for HIV infection. Injection drug use was the most frequent risk factor for HIV infection among the HCV/HIV cases; however, 35.6% of the HCV/HIV coinfected males were MSM but not injection drug users.
By linking the two registries, we found new ways to foster collaborative work and expand our programmatic flexibility. This analysis identified particular populations at risk for coinfection, which can be used by viral hepatitis and HIV screening, prevention, and treatment programs to integrate, enhance, target, and prioritize prevention services and clinical care within the community to maximize health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3862995  PMID: 24385655
10.  The Asian American Hepatitis B Program: Building a Coalition to Address Hepatitis B Health Disparities 
Community coalitions are increasingly recognized as important strategies for addressing health disparities. By providing the opportunity to pool resources, they provide a means to develop and sustain innovative approaches to affect community health.
This article describes the challenges and lessons learned in building the Asian American Hepatitis B Program (AAHBP) coalition to conduct a community-based participatory research (CBPR) initiative to address hepatitis B (HBV) among New York City Asian-American communities.
Using the stages of coalition development as a framework, a comprehensive assessment of the process of developing and implementing the AAHBP coalition is presented.
Lessons Learned
Findings highlight the importance of developing a sound infrastructure and set of processes to foster a greater sense of ownership, shared vision, and investment in the program.
Grassroots community organizing and campus–community partnerships can be successfully leveraged to address and prevent a significant health disparity in an underserved and diverse community.
PMCID: PMC3369315  PMID: 22080774
Asian Americans; community-based participatory research; community health services; healthcare disparities; hepatitis B
11.  Impact Monitoring of the National Scale Up of Zinc Treatment for Childhood Diarrhea in Bangladesh: Repeat Ecologic Surveys 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000175.
Charles Larson and colleagues find that 23 months into a national campaign to scale up zinc treatment for diarrhea in children under age 5 years, only 10% of children with diarrhea in rural areas and 20%–25% in urban/municipal areas were getting the treatment.
Zinc treatment of childhood diarrhea has the potential to save 400,000 under-five lives per year in lesser developed countries. In 2004 the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF revised their clinical management of childhood diarrhea guidelines to include zinc. The aim of this study was to monitor the impact of the first national campaign to scale up zinc treatment of childhood diarrhea in Bangladesh.
Between September 2006 to October 2008 seven repeated ecologic surveys were carried out in four representative population strata: mega-city urban slum and urban nonslum, municipal, and rural. Households of approximately 3,200 children with an active or recent case of diarrhea were enrolled in each survey round. Caretaker awareness of zinc as a treatment for childhood diarrhea by 10 mo following the mass media launch was attained in 90%, 74%, 66%, and 50% of urban nonslum, municipal, urban slum, and rural populations, respectively. By 23 mo into the campaign, approximately 25% of urban nonslum, 20% of municipal and urban slum, and 10% of rural under-five children were receiving zinc for the treatment of diarrhea. The scale-up campaign had no adverse effect on the use of oral rehydration salt (ORS).
Long-term monitoring of scale-up programs identifies important gaps in coverage and provides the information necessary to document that intended outcomes are being attained and unintended consequences avoided. The scale-up of zinc treatment of childhood diarrhea rapidly attained widespread awareness, but actual use has lagged behind. Disparities in zinc coverage favoring higher income, urban households were identified, but these were gradually diminished over the two years of follow-up monitoring. The scale up campaign has not had any adverse effect on the use of ORS.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Diarrheal disease is a significant global health problem with approximately 4 billion cases and 2.5 million deaths annually. The overwhelming majority of cases are in developing countries where there is a particularly high death rate among children under five years of age. Diarrhea is caused by bacterial, parasitic, or viral pathogens, which often spread in contaminated water. Poor hygiene and sanitation, malnutrition, and lack of medical care all contribute to the burden of this disease. Replacing lost fluids and salts is a cheap and effective method to rehydrate people following dehydration caused by diarrhea. Clinical trials show that zinc, as part of a treatment for childhood diarrhea, not only helps to reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea but also reduces the likelihood of a repeat episode in the future. Zinc is now included in the guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF for treatment of childhood diarrhea.
Why Was This Study Done?
Zinc treatment together with traditional oral rehydration salts therapy following episodes of diarrhea could potentially benefit millions of children in areas where diarrheal disease is prevalent. The “Scaling Up of Zinc for Young Children” (SUZY) project was established in 2003 to provide zinc treatment for diarrhea in all children under five years of age in Bangladesh. The project was supported by a partnership of public, private, nongovernmental organization, and multinational sector agencies during its scale up to a national campaign across Bangladesh. The partners helped to develop the scale-up campaign, produce and distribute zinc tablets, train health professionals to provide zinc treatment, and create media campaigns (such as advertisements in TV, radio, and newspapers) to raise awareness and promote the use of zinc for diarrhea. The researchers wanted to monitor how effective and successful the national campaign was at promoting zinc treatment for childhood diarrhea. Also, they wanted to highlight any potential problems during the implementation of health care initiatives in areas with deprived health systems.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers set up survey sites to monitor results from the first two years of the SUZY campaign. Four areas, each representing different segments of the population across Bangladesh were surveyed; urban slums, urban nonslums, municipal (small city), and rural. There are approximately 1.5 million children under the age of five across these sites. Households in each survey site were selected at random, and seven surveys were conducted at each site between September 2006 and October 2008—about 3,200 children with diarrhea for each survey. Over 90% of parents used private sector providers of drug treatment so the campaign focused on distribution of zinc tablets in the private sector. They were also available free of charge in the public health sector. TV and radio campaigns for zinc treatment rapidly raised awareness across Bangladesh. Awareness was less than 10% in all communities prelaunch and peaked 10 months later at 90%, 74%, 66%, and 50% in urban nonslum, municipal, urban slum, and rural sites, respectively. However, after 23 months only 25% of urban nonslum, 20% of municipal and urban slum, and 10% of rural children under five years of age were actually using zinc for childhood diarrhea. Use of zinc was shown to be safe, with few side-effects, and did not affect the use of traditional treatments for diarrhea. Researchers also found that many children were not given the correct ten-day course of treatment; 50% of parents were sold seven or fewer zinc tablets.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the first national campaign promoting zinc treatment for childhood diarrhea in Bangladesh has had some success. Addition of zinc tablets for diarrhea treatment did not interfere with existing therapies. Mass media campaigns, using TV and radio, were useful for promoting health care initiatives nationwide alongside the education of health care providers and care-givers. The study also identified areas where more work is needed. Surveys in more remote, hard to reach sites in Bangladesh would provide better representation of the country as a whole. High awareness of zinc did not translate into high use. Repeated surveying in the same subdistricts may have overestimated actual awareness levels. Furthermore, mass media messages must link with messages from health care providers to help to reinforce and promote understanding of the use of zinc. A change in focus of media messages from awareness to promoting household decision-making may aid the adoption of zinc treatment for childhood diarrhea and improve adherence.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh Web site has information about the study
The World Health Organisation provides information on diarrhea
The study was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
PMCID: PMC2765636  PMID: 19888335
12.  Hepatitis B in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area: an integrated programme to respond to a diverse local epidemic 
Journal of Viral Hepatitis  2011;18(4):e40-e51.
Although chronic hepatitis B (CHB) affects approximately 2 million United States residents, there is no systematic screening of at-risk individuals, and most remain unaware of their hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Unmonitored and untreated, CHB results in a 25–30% risk of death from liver cancer and/or cirrhosis, inflicting an increasing healthcare burden in high-prevalence regions. Despite high prevalence in immigrant Asians and Pacific Islanders, among whom CHB is a leading cause of death, community and healthcare provider awareness remains low. Because safe and effective vaccines and effective antiviral treatments exist, there is an urgent need for integrated programmes that identify, follow and treat people with existing CHB, while vaccinating the susceptible. We describe an extant San Francisco programme that integrates culturally targeted, population-based, HBV screening, vaccination or reassurance, management and research. After screening over 3000 at-risk individuals, we here review our operational and practical experience and describe a simple, rationally designed model that could be successfully used to greatly improve the current approach to hepatitis B while ultimately reducing the related healthcare costs, especially in the high-risk populations, which are currently underserved.
PMCID: PMC3084996  PMID: 21143342
Asians and Pacific Islanders; at-risk populations; cancer surveillance; chronic hepatitis B; culturally targeted screening; disease surveillance; hepatitis B virus; hepatocellular carcinoma; high-risk populations; screening; vaccination
13.  The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition: four years of progress. 
Public Health Reports  1986;101(2):147-156.
The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition is a cooperative venture of 80 national voluntary, health professional, and governmental organizations committed to improving maternal and infant health through education. In the 4 years since its creation, the Coalition has grown in scope and size, established an Executive Secretariat, and begun activities directed at breastfeeding, substance use, injury prevention, genetics, oral health, adolescent pregnancy, and motivation of low-income women. National Coalition educational materials on these subjects are produced by representatives of the national organization members contributing time and their organization's resources. In addition, member organizations sponsor the publication of a quarterly newsletter and other coalition-building materials including an exhibit, slide-tape show, television production kit, and a community organization guide. Combined with State and community enthusiasm for the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies concept, technical assistance from national members has led to the formation of coalitions in many States--more than 40 States have designated contacts with the national coalition. The State coalitions have undertaken a variety of campaigns; the achievements in 12 States are outlined. Of high priority during the next year will be support of these developing State coalitions through co-sponsorship of regional conferences. The national Coalition will also continue to recognize innovative programs through annual national achievement awards. The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition is dedicated to continued development and promotion of educational programs for pregnant women, those planning a pregnancy, and their caregivers until 1990, in support of the health Objectives for the nation.
PMCID: PMC1477792  PMID: 3083469
14.  The Global Spread of Hepatitis C Virus 1a and 1b: A Phylodynamic and Phylogeographic Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000198.
Using phylodynamic and phylogeographic methods, Angelos Hatzakis and colleagues find that the global spread of Hepatitis C virus coincided with widespread use of transfused blood and with the expansion of intravenous drug use.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is estimated to affect 130–180 million people worldwide. Although its origin is unknown, patterns of viral diversity suggest that HCV genotype 1 probably originated from West Africa. Previous attempts to estimate the spatiotemporal parameters of the virus, both globally and regionally, have suggested that epidemic HCV transmission began in 1900 and grew steadily until the late 1980s. However, epidemiological data suggest that the expansion of HCV may have occurred after the Second World War. The aim of our study was to elucidate the timescale and route of the global spread of HCV.
Methods and Findings
We show that the rarely sequenced HCV region (E2P7NS2) is more informative for molecular epidemiology studies than the more commonly used NS5B region. We applied phylodynamic methods to a substantial set of new E2P7NS2 and NS5B sequences, together with all available global HCV sequences with information in both of these genomic regions, in order to estimate the timescale and nature of the global expansion of the most prevalent HCV subtypes, 1a and 1b. We showed that transmission of subtypes 1a and 1b “exploded” between 1940 and 1980, with the spread of 1b preceding that of 1a by at least 16 y (95% confidence interval 15–17). Phylogeographic analysis of all available NS5B sequences suggests that HCV subtypes 1a and 1b disseminated from the developed world to the developing countries.
The evolutionary rate of HCV appears faster than previously suggested. The global spread of HCV coincided with the widespread use of transfused blood and blood products and with the expansion of intravenous drug use but slowed prior to the wide implementation of anti-HCV screening. Differences in the transmission routes associated with subtypes 1a and 1b provide an explanation of the relatively earlier expansion of 1b. Our data show that the most plausible route of the HCV dispersal was from developed countries to the developing world.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
About 150 million people (3% of the world's population) harbor long-term (chronic) infections with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and about 3–4 million people become infected with this virus every year. HCV—a leading cause of chronic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)—is spread through contact with infected blood. Transmission routes include medical procedures (for example, transfusions with unscreened blood) and needle-sharing among intravenous drug users. This second transmission route is the most common one in developed countries where blood is now routinely screened before being used in transfusions. HCV infection can cause a short-lived illness characterized by tiredness and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), but most newly infected people progress to a symptom-free, chronic infection that can eventually cause liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. HCV infections can be treated with a combination of two expensive drugs called interferon and ribavirin, but these drugs are ineffective in many patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Noone knows for sure where HCV originated although there is some evidence that it appeared first in West Africa or Southeast Asia. It is also unclear when the current HCV epidemic began. In this study, the researchers try to elucidate both the timescale and route of the global spread of the HCV epidemic by analyzing the genome sequence of HCV samples collected at different times and places. HCV is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus. That is, it stores the information it needs to replicate itself—its genome—as a series of “ribonucleotides.” Like other RNA viruses, the HCV genome continually accumulates small changes (mutations) and, over time, HCV has evolved into several different “genotypes,” each of which has several distinct subtypes. Furthermore, the viruses within a single subtype have subtly different genomes. By analyzing this viral diversity using complex “phylodynamic” and “phylogeographic” methods, scientists can build up a picture of how HCV has evolved in populations and how it has spread to reach its current geographical distribution.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By examining the genomes of HCV samples collected between 1994 and 2006 at the Athens University Medical School (Greece), the researchers first defined a variable region of HCV called E2P7NS2 that is more informative for phylodynamic studies than the NS5B region that has been used in previous studies. They then retrieved the sequences of both regions for subtype 1a and 1b samples collected over the past 20–30 years in the Los Alamos HCV sequence database; HCV subtypes 1a and 1b cause 60% of global HCV infections. The researchers' phylodynamic analyses of these globally representative sequences (collected in the USA, Germany, Switzerland, and Greece) indicate that the transmission of HCV subtype 1a occurred at a low rate from 1906 until the 1960s, at which time there was an explosive increase in its transmission rate. Similarly, subtype 1b transmission occurred at a low rate from 1922 until the late 1940s but then increased exponentially. From 1980 onwards, the prevalence of both subtypes stabilized at a high level. The researchers' phylogeographic analyses (which considered 1a and1b NS5B sequences collected in 21 and 29 countries, respectively) suggest that HCV subtypes 1a and 1b may have spread from the developed to the developing world.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the epidemic of HCV subtype 1b began in the 1940s when the use of transfused blood and blood products became widespread whereas the start of the subtype 1a epidemic coincided with the expansion of injected drug use that occurred in the 1960s. The findings also suggest that the transmission rates of both subtypes may have slowed before the widespread implementation of HCV screening in the early 1990s, possibly because the medical community was aware by then of the general risks associated with blood contamination. Finally, these findings provide new insights into how the HCV epidemic spread around the world and suggest that HCV may be evolving faster than previously thought. However, because this study relied on a small number of samples collected over a short time period, its findings need to be confirmed in larger studies.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about hepatitis C and HCV
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on hepatitis C for the public and for health professionals (information is also available in Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides basic information on hepatitis C (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on hepatitis C
The Los Alamos HCV database is available
The US National Center for Biotechnology Information provides a science primer on how scientists reconstruct evolutionary pathways from sequence information
PMCID: PMC2795363  PMID: 20041120
15.  A Qualitative Study of Provider Thoughts on Implementing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in Clinical Settings to Prevent HIV Infection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40603.
A recent clinical trial demonstrated that a daily dose tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabrine (TDF-FTC) can reduce HIV acquisition among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender (TG) women by 44%, and up to 90% if taken daily. We explored how medical and service providers understand research results and plan to develop clinical protocols to prescribe, support and monitor adherence for patients on PrEP in the United States.
Using referrals from our community collaborators and snowball sampling, we recruited 22 healthcare providers in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles for in-depth interviews from May-December 2011. The providers included primary care physicians seeing high numbers of MSM and TG women, HIV specialists, community health clinic providers, and public health officials. We analyzed interviews thematically to produce recommendations for setting policy around implementing PrEP. Interview topics included: assessing clinician impressions of PrEP and CDC guidance, considerations of cost, office capacity, dosing schedules, and following patients over time.
Little or no demand for PrEP from patients was reported at the time of the interviews. Providers did not agree on the most appropriate patients for PrEP and believed that current models of care, which do not involve routine frequent office visits, were not well suited for prescribing PrEP. Providers detailed the need to build capacity and were concerned about monitoring side effects and adherence. PrEP was seen as potentially having impact on the epidemic but providers also noted that community education campaigns needed to be tailored to effectively reach specific vulnerable populations.
While PrEP may be a novel and clinically compelling prevention intervention for MSM and TG women, it raises a number of important implementation challenges that would need to be addressed. Nonetheless, most providers expressed optimism that they eventually could prescribe and monitor PrEP in their practice.
PMCID: PMC3394704  PMID: 22792384
16.  Hepatitis A vaccination during an outbreak among gay men in Montréal, Canada, 1995-1997 
STUDY OBJECTIVE—To evaluate an intervention designed to curtail an outbreak of hepatitis A among gay men, especially the young and sexually active, by promoting their free vaccination.
DESIGN—The study analysed routine passive surveillance data, carried out questionnaire and serological surveys of vaccinees, and surveys among the target population in non-clinical venues.
SETTING AND INTERVENTION—15 000 free doses of hepatitis A vaccine were made available through clinics with large gay clienteles, or at gay events, and advertised by various means, in Montréal, Canada, from August 1996 to November 1997. Simultaneous vaccination against hepatitis B (always free for gay men) was also encouraged.
PARTICIPANTS—Information was obtained from persons with the disease during the epidemic period, a sample of men requesting vaccination, and five community samples of gay men.
MAIN RESULTS—The outbreak involved 376 gay men and the vaccine was distributed to approximately 10 000. Vaccinees were older than cases, but had many sex partners and comprised more food handlers. Special vaccination clinics at gay events were well attended but did not reach more high risk men than regular medical venues. A self reported vaccine coverage of 49% was achieved, but 26% of vaccinees already had anti-HAV antibodies. Disease incidence declined rapidly during the campaign.
CONCLUSIONS—The intervention nearly tripled self reported hepatitis A vaccine coverage but its late start precludes proving that it caused the subsequent drop in incidence. However, it also increased hepatitis B vaccination and it is believed it improved links between gay men, public health, clinicians and community groups.

Keywords: hepatitis A; immunisation; homosexuality
PMCID: PMC1731875  PMID: 11238580
17.  From Program to Policy: Expanding the Role of Community Coalitions 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2007;4(4):A103.
Diabetes mortality at the United States–Mexico border is twice the national average. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is increasingly diagnosed among children and adolescents. Fragmented services and scarce resources further restrict access to health care. Increased awareness of the incidence of disease and poor health outcomes became a catalyst for creating community-based coalitions and partnerships with the University of Arizona that focused on diabetes.
Five partnerships between the communities and the University of Arizona were formed to address these health issues. They began with health promotion as their goal and were challenged to add policy and environmental change to their objectives. Understanding the meaning of policy in the community context is the first step in the transition from program to policy. Policy participation brings different groups together, strengthening ties and building trust among community members and community organizations.
Data on progress and outcomes were collected from multiple sources. We used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) 2010 Community Change Model as the capacity-building and analytic framework for supporting and documenting the transition of coalitions from program to policy.
Over 5 years, the coalitions made the transition, in varying degrees, from a programmatic focus to a policy planning and advocacy focus. The coalitions raised community awareness, built community capacity, encouraged a process of "change in change agents," and advocated for community environmental and policy shifts to improve health behaviors.
The five coalitions made environmental and policy impacts by engaging in policy advocacy. These outcomes indicate the successful, if not consistently sustained, transition from program to policy. Whether and how these "changes in change agents" are transferable to the larger community over the long term remains to be seen.
PMCID: PMC2099268  PMID: 17875247
18.  The African American Wellness Village in Portland, Ore 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2006;3(3):A104.
More than 80% of African Americans in Oregon reside in the Portland metropolitan area; African Americans comprise 1.7% of the state's population. Although relatively small, the African American population in the state experiences substantial health disparities. The African American Health Coalition, Inc was developed to implement initiatives that would reduce these disparities and to promote increased communication and trust between the African American community and local institutions and organizations. One of these initiatives is an annual Wellness Week featuring an African American Wellness Village. The Wellness Village uses a model of cultural sensitivity to provide access to free health screenings, links between health care organizations and African American community members, and health education and information.
The African American Health Coalition, Inc obtained a Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) 2010 grant to sustain this programming. The Wellness Village is supported by five major sponsors; annual attendance has ranged from 700 to 900 participants. The African American Health Coalition's evaluation of the event indicates that more than 50% of respondents identify the Wellness Village as the only place that they receive health screenings. Participants with access to screenings elsewhere report that a culturally sensitive environment that inspires trust is the reason they prefer the screenings offered at the Wellness Village.
Culturally sensitive health fairs such as the Wellness Village may play an important role in bringing preventive health screenings to African American communities. Collaboration between black and white health care providers is critical in this effort. Partnerships must be built at multiple levels, including institutions to provide financial resources and in-kind donations, community members to assist with outreach and recruitment, and health care professionals to conduct screenings and services.
PMCID: PMC1637792  PMID: 16776865
19.  Costs and Consequences of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Recommendations for Opt-Out HIV Testing 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(6):e194.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended opt-out HIV testing (testing without the need for risk assessment and counseling) in all health care encounters in the US for persons 13–64 years old. However, the overall costs and consequences of these recommendations have not been estimated before. In this paper, I estimate the costs and public health impact of opt-out HIV testing relative to testing accompanied by client-centered counseling, and relative to a more targeted counseling and testing strategy.
Methods and Findings
Basic methods of scenario and cost-effectiveness analysis were used, from a payer's perspective over a one-year time horizon. I found that for the same programmatic cost of US$864,207,288, targeted counseling and testing services (at a 1% HIV seropositivity rate) would be preferred to opt-out testing: targeted services would newly diagnose more HIV infections (188,170 versus 56,940), prevent more HIV infections (14,553 versus 3,644), and do so at a lower gross cost per infection averted (US$59,383 versus US$237,149). While the study is limited by uncertainty in some input parameter values, the findings were robust across a variety of assumptions about these parameter values (including the estimated HIV seropositivity rate in the targeted counseling and testing scenario).
While opt-out testing may be able to newly diagnose over 56,000 persons living with HIV in one year, abandoning client-centered counseling has real public health consequences in terms of HIV infections that could have been averted. Further, my analyses indicate that even when HIV seropositivity rates are as low as 0.3%, targeted counseling and testing performs better than opt-out testing on several key outcome variables. These analytic findings should be kept in mind as HIV counseling and testing policies are debated in the US.
Scenario and cost-effectiveness analyses found that for the same programmatic cost, targeted counseling and testing would diagnose more people living with HIV and prevent more HIV infections than opt-out testing.
Editors' Summary
About a quarter of a million people in the United States do not realize they are infected with HIV. Because they are unaware of their infection, they don't get the medicines they need to stay healthy, and they may also be transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to others unwittingly. How can public health professionals best reach such people to offer them an HIV test? There are a number of different schools of thought, the two most common of which are studied in this paper.
The first is that the best way to reach them is by simply offering every single patient in every health care setting an HIV test, but giving them the option to decline. This approach is known as “opt-out testing” (because everyone gets tested unless they choose to opt out); it has recently been recommended by the leading US government agency responsible for promoting the US public's health, an agency called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says that there is no need for patients to give specific written permission for the HIV test to be done and that there is no need for health professionals to offer counseling of what the consequences of a positive test might mean for them before the test.
The second school of thought is that public health professionals should instead target their efforts towards those who are at increased risk of being HIV positive, such as those who inject drugs or who have had high-risk sex. Persons at risk of infection or transmission are offered counseling before the test, to assess their actual risk of HIV and to discuss what would happen in the event that the HIV test comes back positive. During counseling, people are also given advice on steps they can take to stay HIV negative if their test comes back negative, and to prevent infecting others if their test comes back positive. This approach to HIV testing is called “targeted counseling and testing.” While targeting can be done according to levels of risk behavior, counseling and testing services can also be targeted by focusing on geographic areas (e.g., cities) with high levels of HIV infection, or focusing on different types of clinics that serve persons at high risk of HIV infection and/or with little routine access to health care (such as sexually transmitted disease or drug treatment clinics, emergency rooms, or medical clinics in prison settings).
Why Was This Study Done?
The researcher, David Holtgrave, wanted to know which of these two different approaches would be better at reaching people with undiagnosed HIV infection over the course of a one-year period. He also wanted to know the costs of each approach, and which might be better at curbing the spread of HIV.
What Did the Researcher Do and Find?
He used two research techniques. One is called “scenario analysis,” which involves trying to forecast the consequences of several different possible scenarios. The other is called “cost-effectiveness analysis,” which involves comparing the costs and effects of two or more different courses of action.
According to Dr. Holtgrave's analysis, opt-out testing might reach 23% of those people who are currently unaware that they are HIV positive. The program might also prevent 9% of the 40,000 new HIV infections that occur each year in the US. The cost of averting one new infection would be US$237,149. In contrast, targeted counseling and testing might identify about 75% of people in the US now unaware they are living with HIV infection, and prevent about 36% of the new HIV infections. The cost of averting one new infection would be US$59,383. Even when the author changed several assumptions in his analysis (e.g., assumptions about levels of HIV infection or the effectiveness of counseling), he found that targeted counseling and testing still performed better (so the results are “robust” across a variety of such assumptions).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that targeted counseling and testing would be better than opt-out testing for reaching people with undiagnosed HIV infection and for helping to stop the spread of the virus. Opt-out testing, says the author, might even make some people increase their risky behavior. For example, if someone is injecting drugs, is given an opt-out HIV test, but is never questioned about substance use or counseled, and gets an HIV-negative result, they could easily conclude that their drug injecting is not putting them at risk of becoming HIV positive.
However, it is important to note that this study has a major limitation in that it tried to predict what might happen in the future—it did not study the actual impact of the two different types of testing on a group of people. Studies such as this one, which try to predict the future, are always based on a number of assumptions and these assumptions may turn out not to be true. So we should always be cautious in interpreting the results of a “scenario analysis.” In addition, because of the assumptions made in this study, these results are only directly applicable to the US population and hence the implications for other countries are not clear.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
In a related Perspective on this article, Ronald Valdiserri discusses the public health implications of the study
The CDC has a Web site with information on national HIV testing resources
In addition, the CDC has published its “Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings,” which lay out its proposal for opt-out testing
The international AIDS charity AVERT has a comprehensive page on HIV testing, including information on the reasons to have a test and what the test involves
Johns Hopkins University is host to a site that provides extensive information on HIV care and treatment
The University of California at San Francisco maintains HIV InSite, an authoritative Web site covering topics such as HIV prevention, care, and policy
PMCID: PMC1891318  PMID: 17564488
20.  Yellow Fever in Africa: Estimating the Burden of Disease and Impact of Mass Vaccination from Outbreak and Serological Data 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001638.
Neil Ferguson and colleagues estimate the disease burden of yellow fever in Africa, as well as the impact of mass vaccination campaigns.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Yellow fever is a vector-borne disease affecting humans and non-human primates in tropical areas of Africa and South America. While eradication is not feasible due to the wildlife reservoir, large scale vaccination activities in Africa during the 1940s to 1960s reduced yellow fever incidence for several decades. However, after a period of low vaccination coverage, yellow fever has resurged in the continent. Since 2006 there has been substantial funding for large preventive mass vaccination campaigns in the most affected countries in Africa to curb the rising burden of disease and control future outbreaks. Contemporary estimates of the yellow fever disease burden are lacking, and the present study aimed to update the previous estimates on the basis of more recent yellow fever occurrence data and improved estimation methods.
Methods and Findings
Generalised linear regression models were fitted to a dataset of the locations of yellow fever outbreaks within the last 25 years to estimate the probability of outbreak reports across the endemic zone. Environmental variables and indicators for the surveillance quality in the affected countries were used as covariates. By comparing probabilities of outbreak reports estimated in the regression with the force of infection estimated for a limited set of locations for which serological surveys were available, the detection probability per case and the force of infection were estimated across the endemic zone.
The yellow fever burden in Africa was estimated for the year 2013 as 130,000 (95% CI 51,000–380,000) cases with fever and jaundice or haemorrhage including 78,000 (95% CI 19,000–180,000) deaths, taking into account the current level of vaccination coverage. The impact of the recent mass vaccination campaigns was assessed by evaluating the difference between the estimates obtained for the current vaccination coverage and for a hypothetical scenario excluding these vaccination campaigns. Vaccination campaigns were estimated to have reduced the number of cases and deaths by 27% (95% CI 22%–31%) across the region, achieving up to an 82% reduction in countries targeted by these campaigns. A limitation of our study is the high level of uncertainty in our estimates arising from the sparseness of data available from both surveillance and serological surveys.
With the estimation method presented here, spatial estimates of transmission intensity can be combined with vaccination coverage levels to evaluate the impact of past or proposed vaccination campaigns, thereby helping to allocate resources efficiently for yellow fever control. This method has been used by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI Alliance) to estimate the potential impact of future vaccination campaigns.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Yellow fever is a flavivirus infection that is transmitted to people and to non-human primates through the bites of infected mosquitoes. This serious viral disease affects people living in and visiting tropical regions of Africa and Central and South America. In rural areas next to forests, the virus typically causes sporadic cases or even small-scale epidemics (outbreaks) but, if it is introduced into urban areas, it can cause large explosive epidemics that are hard to control. Although many people who contract yellow fever do not develop any symptoms, some have mild flu-like symptoms, and others develop a high fever with jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) or hemorrhaging (bleeding) from the mouth, nose, eyes, or stomach. Half of patients who develop these severe symptoms die. Because of this wide spectrum of symptoms, which overlap with those of other tropical diseases, it is hard to diagnose yellow fever from symptoms alone. However, serological tests that detect antibodies to the virus in the blood can help in diagnosis. There is no specific antiviral treatment for yellow fever but its symptoms can be treated.
Why Was This Study Done?
Eradication of yellow fever is not feasible because of the wildlife reservoir for the virus but there is a safe, affordable, and highly effective vaccine against the disease. Large-scale vaccination efforts during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s reduced the yellow fever burden for several decades but, after a period of low vaccination coverage, the number of cases rebounded. In 2005, the Yellow Fever Initiative—a collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI Alliance)—was launched to create a vaccine stockpile for use in epidemics and to implement preventive mass vaccination campaigns in the 12 most affected countries in West Africa. Campaigns have now been implemented in all these countries except Nigeria. However, without an estimate of the current yellow fever burden, it is hard to determine the impact of these campaigns. Here, the researchers use recent yellow fever occurrence data, serological survey data, and improved estimation methods to update estimates of the yellow fever burden and to determine the impact of mass vaccination on this burden.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a generalized linear statistical model and used data on the locations where yellow fever was reported between 1987 and 2011 in Africa, force of infection estimates for a limited set of locations where serological surveys were available (the force of infection is the rate at which susceptible individuals acquire a disease), data on vaccination coverage, and demographic and environmental data for their calculations. They estimate that about 130,000 yellow fever cases with fever and jaundice or hemorrhage occurred in Africa in 2013 and that about 78,000 people died from the disease. By evaluating the difference between this estimate, which takes into account the current vaccination coverage, and a hypothetical scenario that excluded the mass vaccination campaigns, the researchers estimate that these campaigns have reduced the burden of disease by 27% across Africa and by up to 82% in the countries targeted by the campaigns (an overall reduction of 57% in the 12 targeted countries).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide a contemporary estimate of the burden of yellow fever in Africa. This estimate is broadly similar to the historic estimate of 200,000 cases and 30,000 deaths annually, which was based on serological survey data obtained from children in Nigeria between 1945 and 1971. Notably, both disease burden estimates are several hundred-fold higher than the average number of yellow fever cases reported annually to WHO, which reflects the difficulties associated with the diagnosis of yellow fever. Importantly, these findings also provide an estimate of the impact of recent mass vaccination campaigns. All these findings have a high level of uncertainty, however, because of the lack of data from both surveillance and serological surveys. Other assumptions incorporated in the researchers' model may also affect the accuracy of these findings. Nevertheless, the framework for burden estimation developed here provides essential new information about the yellow fever burden and the impact of vaccination campaigns and should help the partners of the Yellow Fever Initiative estimate the potential impact of future vaccination campaigns and ensure the efficient allocation of resources for yellow fever control.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about yellow fever (in several languages), including photo stories about vaccination campaigns in the Sudan and Mali; it also provides information about the Yellow Fever Initiative (in English and French)
The GAVI Alliance website includes detailed of its support for yellow fever vaccination
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about yellow fever for the public, travelers, and health care providers
The UK National Health Service Choices website also has information about yellow fever
Wikipedia has a page on yellow fever that includes information about the history of the disease (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC4011853  PMID: 24800812
21.  The Influence of Health Systems on Hypertension Awareness, Treatment, and Control: A Systematic Literature Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001490.
Will Maimaris and colleagues systematically review the evidence that national or regional health systems, including place of care and medication co-pays, influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Hypertension (HT) affects an estimated one billion people worldwide, nearly three-quarters of whom live in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). In both developed and developing countries, only a minority of individuals with HT are adequately treated. The reasons are many but, as with other chronic diseases, they include weaknesses in health systems. We conducted a systematic review of the influence of national or regional health systems on HT awareness, treatment, and control.
Methods and Findings
Eligible studies were those that analyzed the impact of health systems arrangements at the regional or national level on HT awareness, treatment, control, or antihypertensive medication adherence. The following databases were searched on 13th May 2013: Medline, Embase, Global Health, LILACS, Africa-Wide Information, IMSEAR, IMEMR, and WPRIM. There were no date or language restrictions. Two authors independently assessed papers for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. A narrative synthesis of the findings was conducted. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to substantial methodological heterogeneity in included studies. 53 studies were included, 11 of which were carried out in LMICs. Most studies evaluated health system financing and only four evaluated the effect of either human, physical, social, or intellectual resources on HT outcomes. Reduced medication co-payments were associated with improved HT control and treatment adherence, mainly evaluated in US settings. On balance, health insurance coverage was associated with improved outcomes of HT care in US settings. Having a routine place of care or physician was associated with improved HT care.
This review supports the minimization of medication co-payments in health insurance plans, and although studies were largely conducted in the US, the principle is likely to apply more generally. Studies that identify and analyze complexities and links between health systems arrangements and their effects on HT management are required, particularly in LMICs.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2008, one billion people, three-quarters of whom were living in low- and middle-income countries, had high blood pressure (hypertension). Worldwide, hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, leads to about 7.5 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, and kidney disease. Hypertension, selected by the World Health Organization as the theme for World Health Day 2013, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure, the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is contracts to pump blood out (systolic blood pressure) and lowest when the heart relaxes and refills (diastolic blood pressure). Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mmHg (a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg). A blood pressure reading of more than 140/90 mmHg indicates hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure, but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty foods are at high risk of developing hypertension.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most individuals can achieve good hypertension control, which reduces death and disability from cardiovascular and kidney disease, by making lifestyle changes (mild hypertension) and/or by taking antihypertensive drugs. Yet, in both developed and developing countries, many people with hypertension are not aware of their condition and are not adequately treated. As with other chronic diseases, weaknesses in health care systems probably contribute to the inadequate treatment of hypertension. A health care system comprises all the organizations, institutions, and resources whose primary purpose is to improve health. Weaknesses in health care systems can exist at the national, regional, district, community, and household level. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers investigate how national and regional health care system arrangements influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control. Actions that might influence hypertension care at this level of health care systems include providing treatment for hypertension at no or reduced cost, the introduction of financial incentives to healthcare practitioners for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, and enhanced insurance coverage in countries such as the US where people pay for health care through insurance policies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 53 studies that analyzed whether regional or national health care systems arrangements were associated with patient awareness of hypertension, treatment of hypertension, adherence to antihypertensive medication treatment, and control of hypertension. The researchers used an established conceptual framework for health care systems and an approach called narrative synthesis to analyze the results of these studies, most of which were conducted in the US (36 studies) and other high-income countries (eight studies). Nearly all the studies evaluated the effects of health system financing on hypertension outcomes, although several looked at the effects of delivery and governance of health systems on these outcomes. The researchers' analysis revealed an association between reduced medication co-payments (drug costs that are not covered by health insurance and that are paid by patients in countries without universal free healthcare) and improved hypertension control and treatment adherence, mainly in US settings. In addition, in US settings, health insurance coverage was associated with improved hypertension outcomes, as was having a routine physician or place of care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that minimizing co-payments for health care and expansion of health insurance coverage in countries without universal free health care may improve the awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension. Although these findings are based mainly on US studies, they are likely to apply more generally but, importantly, these findings indicate that additional, high-quality studies are needed to unravel the impact of health systems arrangements on the management of hypertension. In particular, they reveal few studies in low- and middle-income countries where most of the global burden of hypertension lies and where weaknesses in health systems often result in deficiencies in the care of chronic diseases. Moreover, they highlight a need for studies that evaluate how aspects of health care systems other than financing (for example, delivery and governance mechanisms) and interactions between health care system arrangements affect hypertension outcomes. Without the results of such studies, governments and national and international organizations will not know the best ways to deal effectively with the global public-health crisis posed by hypertension.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure (in several languages) and personal stories about dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension and a personal story about hypertension
The World Health Organization provides information on controlling blood pressure and on health systems (in several languages); its "A Global Brief on Hypertension" was published on World Health Day 2013
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3728036  PMID: 23935461
22.  The Impact of Cancer Coalitions on the Dissemination of Colorectal Cancer Materials to Community Organizations in Rural Appalachia 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2006;3(2):A55.
The incidence of colorectal cancer in portions of rural Appalachia is higher than in much of the United States. To reduce this disparity, cancer-control strategies could be adapted to and implemented in rural Appalachian communities. The objectives of this pilot study were to develop and test community-based participatory research methods to examine whether cancer coalitions in Appalachia could effectively disseminate print materials from a national media campaign intended to promote colorectal cancer awareness to their rural communities.
This pilot study used a two-arm intervention design with random selection of 450 community organizations from nine counties with cancer coalitions (the coalition arm) and 450 organizations from nine matched counties without a cancer coalition (the noncoalition arm) in northern Appalachia. The primary outcome measures were participation by and interest of community organizations in dissemination of materials from Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign, a national campaign to promote colorectal cancer education and screening. The data were collected with prestudy and poststudy surveys.
One-hundred thirty (29%) organizations participated in the coalition arm, and 38 (8%) participated in the noncoalition arm (P < .001). Within the coalition arm, 86 of the 119 (66%) organizations that responded to the question about influence reported being influenced to participate by the local coalition. Initial interest in dissemination was high in each of the study arms but remained higher throughout the study in the coalition arm than the noncoalition arm.
Community cancer coalitions can increase the local dissemination of material from a national media campaign in rural Appalachia. Continued development and study of methods for coalitions to translate and implement cancer-control strategies at a local level in Appalachia is warranted.
PMCID: PMC1563978  PMID: 16539796
23.  Identifying Telemedicine Services to Improve Access to Specialty Care for the Underserved in the San Francisco Safety Net 
Safety-net settings across the country have grappled with providing adequate access to specialty care services. San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, serving as the city's primary safety-net hospital, has also had to struggle with the same issue. With Healthy San Francisco, the City and County of San Francisco's Universal Healthcare mandate, the increased demand for specialty care services has placed a further strain on the system. With the recent passage of California Proposition 1D, infrastructural funds are now set aside to assist in connecting major hospitals with primary care clinics in remote areas all over the state of California, using telemedicine. Based on a selected sample of key informant interviews with local staff physicians, this study provides further insight into the current process of e-referral which uses electronic communication for making referrals to specialty care. It also identifies key services for telemedicine in primary and specialty care settings within the San Francisco public health system. This study concludes with proposals for a framework that seek to increase collaboration between the referring primary care physician and specialist, to prioritize institution of these key services for telemedicine.
PMCID: PMC3236479  PMID: 22187550
24.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
25.  Tobacco industry strategies to undermine the 8th World Conference on Tobacco or Health 
Tobacco Control  2003;12(2):195-202.
Objective: To demonstrate that Philip Morris and British American Tobacco Company attempted to initiate a wide ranging campaign to undermine the success of the 8th World Conference on Tobacco or Health held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1992.
Data sources: Publicly available tobacco industry documents housed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Guilford, UK; on-line document websites; and telephone interviews with informed parties.
Study selection: Those documents determined to be relevant to the companies' campaigns against the 8th World Conference on Tobacco or Health.
Data extraction: Revision of chapter VIII of the July 2000 WHO report by a committee of experts, entitled: Tobacco company strategies to undermine tobacco control activities at the World Health Organization: report of the committee of experts on tobacco industry documents.
Data synthesis: Internal documents describe proposed media and science orientated campaigns developed by BAT, Philip Morris, and their consultants to divert attention away from the conference.
Results and conclusion: This work shows that the tobacco industry has the resources and vested interest to combat perceived threats in its regional operating markets, in this case its Latin American market. It is important for the worldwide public heath community to become aware of the numerous ways in which the tobacco industry and its front groups can work against international tobacco control meetings, even including the manipulation of or working with other public health groups to oppose tobacco control efforts. Future world conference planners and participants should be aware that the tobacco industry is likely to continue to employ such methodology. There is no reason to think that the industry is paying less attention to such conferences in the present or future. Rather, it is likely the industry will adopt and expand strategies that were successful while abandoning those that were not effective. Required disclosure of financial support by all participants at all tobacco scientific conferences is recommended. For the tobacco control community, we also recommend careful coalition building and networking with other public health groups on the ways tobacco is implicated in other public health issues.
PMCID: PMC1747698  PMID: 12773731

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