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1.  Gender Differences in Survival among Adult Patients Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa: A Multicentre Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001304.
Morna Cornell and colleagues investigate differences in mortality for HIV-positive men and women on antiretroviral therapy in South Africa.
Background
Increased mortality among men on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been documented but remains poorly understood. We examined the magnitude of and risk factors for gender differences in mortality on ART.
Methods and Findings
Analyses included 46,201 ART-naïve adults starting ART between January 2002 and December 2009 in eight ART programmes across South Africa (SA). Patients were followed from initiation of ART to outcome or analysis closure. The primary outcome was mortality; secondary outcomes were loss to follow-up (LTF), virologic suppression, and CD4+ cell count responses. Survival analyses were used to examine the hazard of death on ART by gender. Sensitivity analyses were limited to patients who were virologically suppressed and patients whose CD4+ cell count reached >200 cells/µl. We compared gender differences in mortality among HIV+ patients on ART with mortality in an age-standardised HIV-negative population.
Among 46,201 adults (65% female, median age 35 years), during 77,578 person-years of follow-up, men had lower median CD4+ cell counts than women (85 versus 110 cells/µl, p<0.001), were more likely to be classified WHO stage III/IV (86 versus 77%, p<0.001), and had higher mortality in crude (8.5 versus 5.7 deaths/100 person-years, p<0.001) and adjusted analyses (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 1.31, 95% CI 1.22–1.41). After 36 months on ART, men were more likely than women to be truly LTF (AHR 1.20, 95% CI 1.12–1.28) but not to die after LTF (AHR 1.04, 95% CI 0.86–1.25). Findings were consistent across all eight programmes. Virologic suppression was similar by gender; women had slightly better immunologic responses than men. Notably, the observed gender differences in mortality on ART were smaller than gender differences in age-standardised death rates in the HIV-negative South African population. Over time, non-HIV mortality appeared to account for an increasing proportion of observed mortality. The analysis was limited by missing data on baseline HIV disease characteristics, and we did not observe directly mortality in HIV-negative populations where the participating cohorts were located.
Conclusions
HIV-infected men have higher mortality on ART than women in South African programmes, but these differences are only partly explained by more advanced HIV disease at the time of ART initiation, differential LTF and subsequent mortality, and differences in responses to treatment. The observed differences in mortality on ART may be best explained by background differences in mortality between men and women in the South African population unrelated to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
About 34 million people (most living in low- and middle-income countries) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected people died within 10 years of becoming infected. Then, in 1996, antiretroviral therapy (ART)—cocktails of drugs that keep HIV in check—became available. For people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition. However, ART was expensive and, for people living in poorer countries, HIV/AIDS remained a fatal illness. In 2003, this situation was declared a global emergency, and governments and international agencies began to implement plans to increase ART coverage in resource-limited countries. Since then, ART programs in these countries have grown rapidly. In South Africa, for example, about 52% of the 3.14 million adults in need of ART were receiving an ART regimen recommended by the World Health Organization by the end of 2010.
Why Was This Study Done?
The outcomes of ART programs in resource-limited countries need to be evaluated thoroughly so that these programs can be optimized. One area of concern to ART providers is that of gender differences in survival among patients receiving treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, men are more likely to die than women while receiving ART. This gender difference in mortality may arise because men initiating ART in many African ART programs have more advanced HIV disease than women (early ART initiation is associated with better outcomes than late initiation) or because men are more likely to be lost to follow-up than women (failure to continue treatment is associated with death). Other possible explanations for gender differentials in mortality on ART include gender differences in immunologic and virologic responses to treatment (increased numbers of immune system cells and reduced amounts of virus in the blood, respectively). In this multicenter cohort study, the researchers examine the size of, and risk factors for, gender differences in mortality on ART in South Africa by examining data collected from adults starting ART at International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS South Africa (IeDEA-SA) collaboration sites.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected from 46,201 ART-naïve adults who started ART between 2002 and 2009 in eight IeDEA-SA ART programs. At ART initiation, men had a lower CD4 count on average and were more likely to have advanced HIV disease than women. During the study, after allowing for factors likely to affect mortality such as HIV disease stage at initiation, men on ART had a 31% higher risk of dying than women. Men were more likely to be lost to follow-up than women, but men and women who were lost to follow-up were equally likely to die. Women had a slightly better immunological response to ART than men but virologic suppression was similar in both genders. Importantly, in analyses of mortality limited to individuals who were virologically suppressed at 12 months and to patients who had a good immunological response to ART, men still had a higher risk of death than women. However, the gender differences in mortality on ART were smaller than the gender differences in age-standardized mortality in the HIV-negative South African population.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These analyses show that among South African patients initiating ART between 2002 and 2009, men were more likely to die than women but that this gender difference in mortality on ART cannot be completely explained by gender differences in baseline characteristics, loss to follow-up, or virologic and/or immunologic responses. Instead, the observed gender differences in mortality can best be explained by background gender differences in mortality in the whole South African population. Because substantial amounts of data were missing in this study (for example, HIV disease stage was not available for all the patients), these findings need to be interpreted cautiously. Moreover, similar studies need to be done in other settings to investigate whether they are generalizable to the South African national ART program and to other countries. If confirmed, however, these findings suggest that the root causes of gender differences in mortality on ART may be unrelated to HIV/AIDS or to the characteristics of ART programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001304.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
Information on the treatment of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is available from the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV/AIDS treatment and care, and on HIV/AIDS in South Africa (in English and Spanish)
WHO provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment (in several languages); its 2010 ART guidelines can be downloaded
Information about the IeDEA-SA collaboration is available
The Treatment Action Campaign provides information on antiretroviral therapy and South African HIV statistics
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about taking anti-HIV drugs and the challenges of anti-HIV drugs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001304
PMCID: PMC3433409  PMID: 22973181
2.  Sex-Specific Differences in Hemodialysis Prevalence and Practices and the Male-to-Female Mortality Rate: The Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS) 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001750.
In this study, Port and colleagues describe hemodialysis prevalence and patient characteristics by sex, compare men-to-women mortality rate with data from the general population, and evaluate sex interactions with mortality. The results show that women's survival advantage was markedly diminished in hemodialysis patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
A comprehensive analysis of sex-specific differences in the characteristics, treatment, and outcomes of individuals with end-stage renal disease undergoing dialysis might reveal treatment inequalities and targets to improve sex-specific patient care. Here we describe hemodialysis prevalence and patient characteristics by sex, compare the adult male-to-female mortality rate with data from the general population, and evaluate sex interactions with mortality.
Methods and Findings
We assessed the Human Mortality Database and 206,374 patients receiving hemodialysis from 12 countries (Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the US) participating in the international, prospective Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS) between June 1996 and March 2012. Among 35,964 sampled DOPPS patients with full data collection, we studied patient characteristics (descriptively) and mortality (via Cox regression) by sex. In all age groups, more men than women were on hemodialysis (59% versus 41% overall), with large differences observed between countries. The average estimated glomerular filtration rate at hemodialysis initiation was higher in men than women. The male-to-female mortality rate ratio in the general population varied from 1.5 to 2.6 for age groups <75 y, but in hemodialysis patients was close to one. Compared to women, men were younger (mean = 61.9±standard deviation 14.6 versus 63.1±14.5 y), were less frequently obese, were more frequently married and recipients of a kidney transplant, more frequently had coronary artery disease, and were less frequently depressed. Interaction analyses showed that the mortality risk associated with several comorbidities and hemodialysis catheter use was lower for men (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.11) than women (HR = 1.33, interaction p<0.001). This study is limited by its inability to establish causality for the observed sex-specific differences and does not provide information about patients not treated with dialysis or dying prior to a planned start of dialysis.
Conclusions
Women's survival advantage was markedly diminished in hemodialysis patients. The finding that fewer women than men were being treated with dialysis for end-stage renal disease merits detailed further study, as the large discrepancies in sex-specific hemodialysis prevalence by country and age group are likely explained by factors beyond biology. Modifiable variables, such as catheter use, showing significant sex interactions suggest interventional targeting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Throughout life, the kidneys filter waste products (from the normal breakdown of tissues and from food) and excess water from the blood to make urine. Chronic kidney disease—an increasingly common condition globally—gradually destroys the kidney's filtration units (the nephrons). As the nephrons stop working, the rate at which the blood is filtered (the glomerular filtration rate) decreases, and waste products build up in the blood, eventually leading to life-threatening end-stage kidney (renal) disease. Symptoms of chronic kidney disease, which rarely occur until the disease is advanced, include tiredness, swollen feet and ankles, and frequent urination, particularly at night. Chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, but its progression can be slowed by controlling diabetes and other conditions that contribute to its development. End-stage kidney disease is treated by regular hemodialysis (a process in which blood is cleaned by passing it through a filtration machine) or by kidney transplantation.
Why Was This Study Done?
Like many other long-term conditions, the prevalence (the proportion of the population that has a specific disease) of chronic kidney disease and of end-stage renal disease, and treatment outcomes for these conditions, may differ between men and women. Some of these sex-specific differences may arise because of sex-specific differences in normal biological functions. Other sex-specific differences may be related to sex-specific differences in patient care or in patient awareness of chronic kidney disease. A comprehensive analysis of sex-specific differences among individuals with end-stage renal disease might identify both treatment inequalities and ways to improve sex-specific care. Here, in the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS), the researchers investigate sex-specific differences in the prevalence and practices of hemodialysis and in the characteristics of patients undergoing hemodialysis, and investigate the adult male-to-female mortality (death) rate among patients undergoing hemodialysis. The DOPPS is a prospective cohort study that is investigating the characteristics, treatment, and outcomes of adult patients undergoing hemodialysis in representative facilities in 19 countries (12 countries were available for analysis at the time of the current study).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To investigate sex-specific differences in hemodialysis prevalence, the researchers compared data from the Human Mortality Database, which provides detailed population and mortality data for 37 countries, with data collected by the DOPPS. Forty-one percent of DOPPS patients were women, compared to 52% of the general population in 12 of the DOPPS countries. Next, the researchers used data collected from a randomly selected subgroup of patients to examine sex-specific differences in patient characteristics and mortality. The average estimated glomerular filtration rate at hemodialysis initiation was higher in men than women. Moreover, men were more frequently recipients of a kidney transplant than women. Notably, although in the general population in a given age group women were less likely to die than men, among hemodialysis patients, women were as likely to die as men. Finally, the researchers investigated which patient characteristics were associated with the largest sex-specific differences in mortality risk. The use of a hemodialysis catheter (a tube that is inserted into a patient's vein to transfer their blood into the hemodialysis machine) was associated with a lower mortality risk in men than in women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among patients treated with hemodialysis for end-stage renal disease, women differ from men in many ways. Although some of these sex-specific differences may be related to biology, others may be related to patient care and to patient awareness of chronic kidney disease. Because this is an observational study, these findings cannot prove that the reported differences in hemodialysis prevalence, treatment, and mortality are actually caused by being a man or a woman. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that hemodialysis may abolish the survival advantage that women have over men in the general population and that fewer women than men are being treated for end-stage-renal disease, even though chronic kidney disease is more common in women than in men. Finally, the finding that the use of hemodialysis catheters for access to veins is associated with a higher mortality risk among women than among men suggests that, where possible, women should be offered a surgical process called arteriovenous fistula placement, which is recommended for access to veins during long-term hemodialysis but which may, in the past, have been underused in women.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001750.
More information about the DOPPS program is available
The US National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse provides information about all aspects of kidney disease; the US National Kidney Disease Education Program provides resources to help improve the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients on chronic kidney disease and about hemodialysis, including some personal stories
The US National Kidney Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about chronic kidney disease and about hemodialysis (in English and Spanish)
The not-for-profit UK National Kidney Federation provides support and information for patients with kidney disease and for their carers, including information and personal stories about hemodialysis
World Kidney Day, a joint initiative between the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations, aims to raise awareness about kidneys and kidney disease
MedlinePlus has pages about chronic kidney disease and about hemodialysis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001750
PMCID: PMC4211675  PMID: 25350533
3.  The Safety of Adult Male Circumcision in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Men in Rakai, Uganda 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(6):e116.
Background
The objective of the study was to compare rates of adverse events (AEs) related to male circumcision (MC) in HIV-positive and HIV-negative men in order to provide guidance for MC programs that may provide services to HIV-infected and uninfected men.
Methods and Findings
A total of 2,326 HIV-negative and 420 HIV-positive men (World Health Organization [WHO] stage I or II and CD4 counts > 350 cells/mm3) were circumcised in two separate but procedurally identical trials of MC for HIV and/or sexually transmitted infection prevention in rural Rakai, Uganda. Participants were followed at 1–2 d and 5–9 d, and at 4–6 wk, to assess surgery-related AEs, wound healing, and resumption of intercourse. AE risks and wound healing were compared in HIV-positive and HIV-negative men. Adjusted odds ratios (AdjORs) were estimated by multiple logistic regression, adjusting for baseline characteristics and postoperative resumption of sex. At enrollment, HIV-positive men were older, more likely to be married, reported more sexual partners, less condom use, and higher rates of sexually transmitted disease symptoms than HIV-negative men. Risks of moderate or severe AEs were 3.1/100 and 3.5/100 in HIV-positive and HIV-negative participants, respectively (AdjOR 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.47–1.74). Infections were the most common AEs (2.6/100 in HIV-positive versus 3.0/100 in HIV-negative men). Risks of other complications were similar in the two groups. The proportion with completed healing by 6 wk postsurgery was 92.7% in HIV-positive men and 95.8% in HIV-negative men (p = 0.007). AEs were more common in men who resumed intercourse before wound healing compared to those who waited (AdjOR 1.56, 95% CI 1.05–2.33).
Conclusions
Overall, the safety of MC was comparable in asymptomatic HIV-positive and HIV-negative men, although healing was somewhat slower among the HIV infected. All men should be strongly counseled to refrain from intercourse until full wound healing is achieved.
Trial registration: http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov; for HIV-negative men, #NCT00047073 and for HIV-positive men, #NCT00047073.
Ron Gray and colleagues report on complications of circumcision in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected men from two related trials in Uganda, finding increased risk with intercourse before wound healing.
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide over 33 million people are thought to be living with HIV, and in the absence of a vaccine, preventing its spread is a major health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimate that 68% of 2.5 million new infections worldwide in 2007 took place in sub-Saharan Africa, where 76% of 2.1 million AIDS-related deaths also took place.
One of the principal means of person-to-person transmission of HIV is through sex without the protection of a condom. In parts of Africa, male circumcision is performed in infancy or childhood for religious or cultural reasons or is a traditional rite of passage that marks the transition from child to man. Three trials, in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda, each found that circumcised men were around half as likely as uncircumcised men to contract HIV from HIV-positive female partners. After reviewing the results, WHO and UNAIDS issued joint advice that male circumcision should be promoted for preventing HIV infection in heterosexual men. As male circumcision does not provide complete protection against HIV infection, they advised that it should be promoted in addition to existing strategies of promoting condom use, abstinence, and a reduction in the number of sexual partners.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although earlier studies had shown that adult male circumcision, when performed in Africa under optimal conditions, is a safe procedure for HIV-negative men, it was not known whether it would also be a safe procedure for HIV-positive men. WHO guidelines recommend that HIV-positive men who request the procedure or have a medical need and no contraindications for it should be circumcised. Also, exclusion of HIV-positive men from circumcision programs may result in stigmatization of these men, and discourage participation by men who do not wish to be tested for HIV. Therefore, it is important to know whether the procedure is safe for HIV-positive men.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors compared results from two separate clinical trials carried out with identical procedures in rural Rakai, Uganda. The first, which compared the effect of circumcision with no circumcision in HIV-negative men, was one of the three trials that persuaded the WHO and UNAIDS to promote male circumcision as an HIV prevention strategy. The second Rakai trial did the same comparison but in men who were HIV positive and without symptoms. In this present study, the authors used data from both trials to compare the likelihood of surgery-related complications following circumcision for HIV-negative and HIV-positive men.
The trials recruited men aged 15–49, who were randomly assigned to be circumcised either on enrollment or two years later and were followed up to monitor complications related to the procedure, such as infections, as well as wound healing and when the participant first had sex after the operation. Condom use was recorded at enrollment and six months after enrollment.
The researchers found that most complications were infrequent, mild, and comparable in both groups, with moderate-to-severe complications occurring in only 3%–4% of men in each group. However, delayed wound healing was more frequent in HIV-positive men. Complications were more likely among men who had sex before healing was complete; such men were more likely to be HIV-positive and/or married. Similarly, moderate or severe complications were more likely where men had symptoms of sexually transmitted disease at enrollment, although these were treated before surgery, and these men were more likely to be HIV-positive. Six months after enrollment, similar proportions of HIV-positive and HIV-negative men used condoms consistently, but HIV-positive men were more likely to report using condoms inconsistently than HIV-negative men. However, consistent use of a condom increased among the HIV-positive men compared to when they enrolled.
What Do these Findings Mean?
Circumcision in HIV-positive men without symptoms of AIDS has a low rate of complications, although healing is slower than in HIV-negative men. Because of the greater risk of complications if sex is resumed before full healing, both men and their women partners should be advised to have no sex for at least six weeks after the operation. A separately reported analysis from one of these studies found that women partners are more likely to become HIV infected by HIV-positive men who resume sex prior to complete wound healing. Therefore, for protection of both men and their female partners, it is essential to refrain from intercourse after circumcision until the wound has completely healed.
Because the study found no increased risk of surgical complications in HIV-positive men who undergo circumcision, it should not be necessary to screen men with no symptoms of HIV in future circumcision programs. This should reduce the complexity of implementing such programs and reduce any stigma resulting from exclusion, making it likely that more men will be willing to be circumcised. The rise in consistent condom use among HIV-positive men suggests that messages of safe sex are reaching an important target group and changing their behavior, and that circumcision does not make men less likely to use a condom.
The authors also noted that the rates of complications they observed were low compared with those following traditional circumcision procedures. Others have found that circumcision carried out under unsafe conditions has a high rate of complications. The authors of this study comment that the resources and standards of surgery during the trial represented best practice and that to attain similarly low rates of complications—and the confidence of men in the safety of the procedure—there is a need to ensure sufficient resources and high standards of training.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050116.
WHO and the UNAIDS issued a joint report recommending male circumcision for HIV prevention and another on the HIV epidemic worldwide in December 2007
An information pack here on male circumcision and HIV prevention has also been developed jointly by WHO/UNAIDS, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Bank
The University of California San Francisco's HIV InSite provides information on HIV prevention, treatment, and policy
AEGIS is the world's largest searchable database on HIV and AIDS
The National AIDS Trust provides information on HIV prevention
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050116
PMCID: PMC2408615  PMID: 18532873
4.  Is Food Insecurity Associated with HIV Risk? Cross-Sectional Evidence from Sexually Active Women in Brazil 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001203.
Alexander Tsai and colleagues show that in sexually active women in Brazil severe food insecurity with hunger was positively associated with symptoms potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection and with reduced odds of condom use.
Background
Understanding how food insecurity among women gives rise to differential patterning in HIV risks is critical for policy and programming in resource-limited settings. This is particularly the case in Brazil, which has undergone successive changes in the gender and socio-geographic composition of its complex epidemic over the past three decades. We used data from a national survey of Brazilian women to estimate the relationship between food insecurity and HIV risk.
Methods and Findings
We used data on 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. Self-reported outcomes were (a) consistent condom use, defined as using a condom at each occasion of sexual intercourse in the previous 12 mo; (b) recent condom use, less stringently defined as using a condom with the most recent sexual partner; and (c) itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 d, possibly indicating presence of a sexually transmitted infection. The primary explanatory variable of interest was food insecurity, measured using the culturally adapted and validated Escala Brasiliera de Segurança Alimentar. In multivariable logistic regression models, severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with a reduced odds of consistent condom use in the past 12 mo (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.48–0.92) and condom use at last sexual intercourse (AOR = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.57–0.98). Self-reported itchy vaginal discharge was associated with all categories of food insecurity (with AORs ranging from 1.46 to 1.94). In absolute terms, the effect sizes were large in magnitude across all outcomes. Underweight and/or lack of control in sexual relations did not appear to mediate the observed associations.
Conclusions
Severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with reduced odds of condom use and increased odds of itchy vaginal discharge, which is potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection, among sexually active women in Brazil. Interventions targeting food insecurity may have beneficial implications for HIV prevention in resource-limited settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but currently half of all HIV-positive adults are women. Most women become infected with HIV through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected male partner. Biologically, women are twice as likely to become infected through unprotected heterosexual intercourse as men. Moreover, women are often unable to negotiate condom use because of unequal gender relations—men can insist on unprotected sexual intercourse in many relationships. Another factor often related to unequal gender relations that may shape women's risk of exposure to HIV is food insecurity—limited or uncertain access to enough nutritionally adequate and safe food for an active, healthy life. Recent studies done in sub-Saharan Africa suggest that food insecurity can affect women's engagement in risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex, transactional sex (sexual relationships that involve the giving of goods or services such as free lodgings), and commercial sex work.
Why Was This Study Done?
Policymakers planning HIV prevention strategies in resource-limited settings need to know whether food insecurity affects sexual risk taking among women. If it increases risk taking, then interventions that target food insecurity should improve the effectiveness of HIV prevention strategies. However, little is known about food insecurity and sexual risk taking outside sub-Saharan Africa. In this cross-sectional study (a study that characterizes a population at a single point in time), the researchers investigate whether food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior among sexually active women in Brazil, a country where the number of new heterosexually transmitted HIV infections among women is increasing. Condom promotion is the mainstay of Brazil's HIV prevention strategy, but less than half of the population reports the use of a condom whenever sexual intercourse occurs (consistent condom use) or at last sexual intercourse (recent condom use), and a greater proportion of men than women report condom use, possibly because of unequal power relations between men and women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on consistent condom use, recent condom use, and self-reported itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 days (used here as an indication that a woman may have a sexually transmitted infection) for 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. They then used multivariable logistic regression (a statistical method) to investigate the association between these outcomes and food insecurity, which was measured using the Escala Brasiliera de Insegurança Alimentar, an 18-item questionnaire that asks people to recall information about the quantity and quality of food available to them over the previous three months. Severe food insecurity with hunger (the most extreme category of food insecurity) was associated with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for consistent condom use of 0.67. That is, women who reported severe food insecurity were two-thirds as likely to use a condom whenever they had sexual intercourse as women who were food secure, after adjustment for other factors that might have affected condom use. The probability of consistent condom use was 15% among women who were food secure but only 10.5% among women who had the worst food security. Severe food insecurity with hunger was also associated with a reduced odds of recent condom use (AOR = 0.75), whereas all categories of food insecurity increased the odds of a recent itchy vaginal discharge.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that severe food insecurity with hunger is associated with reduced condom use and with increased occurrence of symptoms that may indicate sexually transmitted disease among sexually active women in Brazil. Because the study looked at women at only a single time point, these findings do not show that food insecurity causes risky sexual behavior. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other settings, and they do not distinguish between regular condom use with a regular partner and regular condom use with casual partners. Also, although the researchers investigated two hypothesized explanations—lack of control in sexual relations and chronic energy deficiency—neither of these factors could explain why food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that interventions that target sexual risk reduction behaviors are unlikely to be optimally effective if food insecurity is not taken into account, and, thus, the researchers conclude, HIV prevention strategies in Brazil should include interventions that target food insecurity.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV and AIDS prevention, women, HIV, and AIDS, and HIV and AIDS in Brazil (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available
HIV InSite provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS from the University of California at San Francisco
Additional patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through the charity website Healthtalkonline
A primer on food security from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is available
Information about the 2006–2007 Brazilian national survey on health in women and children is available in Portuguese; a profile of food security in Brazil is also available (some information in English but mainly in Portuguese)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203
PMCID: PMC3323512  PMID: 22505852
5.  Gender Differences in Alcohol Treatment: An Analysis of Outcome from the COMBINE Study 
Background
Relatively few studies have examined gender differences in the effectiveness of specific behavioral or pharmacologic treatment of alcohol dependence. The aim of this study is to assess whether there were gender differences in treatment outcomes for specific behavioral and medication treatments singly or in combination by conducting a secondary analysis of public access data from the national, multi-site NIAAA-sponsored COMBINE study.
Methods
The COMBINE study investigated alcohol treatment among eight groups of patients (378 women, 848 men) who received Medical Management with 16 weeks of placebo, naltrexone (100mg/day), acamprosate (3 grams/day), or their combination with or without a specialist-delivered Combined Behavioral Intervention. We examined efficacy measures separately for men and women, followed by an overall analysis that included gender and its interaction with treatment condition in the analyses. These analyses were done to confirm whether the findings reported in the parent trial were also relevant to women, and to more closely examine secondary outcome variables that were not analyzed previously for gender effects.
Results
Compared to men, women reported a later age of onset of alcohol dependence by approximately 3 years, were significantly less likely to have had previous alcohol treatment; and drank fewer drinks per drinking day. Otherwise, there were no baseline gender differences in drinking measures. Outcome analyses of two primary (percent days abstinent and time to first heavy drinking day) and two secondary (good clinical response and percent heavy drinking days) drinking measures yielded the same overall pattern in each gender as that observed in the parent COMBINE study report. That is, only the naltrexone by behavioral intervention interaction reached or approached significance in women as well as in men. There was a naltrexone main effect that was significant in both men and women in reduction in alcohol craving scores with naltrexone-treated subjects reporting lower craving than placebo- treated subjects,
Conclusions
This gender-focused analysis found that alcohol-dependent women responded to naltrexone with COMBINE’s Medical Management, similar to the alcohol-dependent men, on a wide range of outcome measures. These results suggest that clinicians should feel comfortable prescribing naltrexone for alcohol dependence in both men and women. In this study, it is also notable that fewer women than men reported receiving any alcohol treatment prior to entry into the COMBINE study. Of note, women tend to go to primary health care more frequently than to specialty substance abuse programs for treatment, and so the benefit we confirm for women of the naltrexone and medical management combination has practical implications for treating alcohol-dependent women.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01267.x
PMCID: PMC3048309  PMID: 20645934
6.  Is the difference in outcome between men and women treated by primary percutaneous coronary intervention age dependent? Gender difference in STEMI stratified on age 
Aim:
Poorer outcomes in women with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) are often attributed to gender differences in baseline characteristics. However, these may be age dependent. We examined the importance of gender in separate age groups of patients with STEMI undergoing primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI).
Methods and results:
Data of 6746 consecutive patients with STEMI admitted for PPCI between 1998 and 2008 in our hospital were evaluated. Age was stratified into two groups, <65 years (young group) and ≥65 years (elderly). Endpoints were enzymic infarct size as well as 30-day and 1 year mortality. We studied a total of 4991 (74.0%) men and 1755 (26.0%) women; 40% of women were <65 years and 60% of men were <65 years of age. In the elderly group (≥65 years), women had more frequently diabetes and hypertension while they smoked less frequently than men. Younger women smoked more often than similarly aged men and had more hypertension. At angiography, single-vessel disease and TIMI 3 flow before PPCI was more present in younger women than men, whereas these differences were not found in the older age group. Patient delay before admission was shorter in men at all ages, while women had lower creatine kinase levels. Younger women had a higher mortality after 30 days (HR 2.1, 95% CI 1.3−3.4) and at 1 year (HR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2−2.6), whereas in the older age group women mortality rates were higher at 30 days (HR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1−2.0) but not at 1 year (HR 1.2, 95% CI 0.9−1.5). After multivariate analysis, 1-year mortality remained significantly higher in women at younger age (HR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1−2.5). Patient delay before admission was shorter in men in both age groups. Creatine kinase levels were in both age groups higher in men.
Conclusions:
Differences in mortality between men and women with STEMI treated with PPCI are age dependent. Although young women have less obstructive coronary artery disease and more often TIMI 3 flow before PCI (suggesting a lower risk), survival was worse compared to similarly aged men. Women had a longer patient delay compared to men, but this was not related to gender-specific mortality.
doi:10.1177/2048872612475270
PMCID: PMC3821825  PMID: 24338292
Acute coronary syndrome; age; gender; STEMI; women
7.  The Role of HIV-Related Stigma in Utilization of Skilled Childbirth Services in Rural Kenya: A Prospective Mixed-Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001295.
Janet Turan and colleagues examined the role of the perception of women in rural Kenya of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy on their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Background
Childbirth with a skilled attendant is crucial for preventing maternal mortality and is an important opportunity for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma Study (MAMAS Study) is a prospective mixed-methods investigation conducted in a high HIV prevalence area in rural Kenya, in which we examined the role of women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy in their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Methods and Findings
From 2007–2009, 1,777 pregnant women with unknown HIV status completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire assessing their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal care visit. After the visit, a sub-sample of women was selected for follow-up (all women who tested HIV-positive or were not tested for HIV, and a random sample of HIV-negative women, n = 598); 411 (69%) were located and completed another questionnaire postpartum. Additional qualitative in-depth interviews with community health workers, childbearing women, and family members (n = 48) aided our interpretation of the quantitative findings and highlighted ways in which HIV-related stigma may influence birth decisions. Qualitative data revealed that health facility birth is commonly viewed as most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications, such as HIV. Thus, women delivering at health facilities face the risk of being labeled as HIV-positive in the community. Our quantitative data revealed that women with higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma (specifically those who held negative attitudes about persons living with HIV) at baseline were subsequently less likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant, even after adjusting for other known predictors of health facility delivery (adjusted odds ratio = 0.44, 95% CI 0.22–0.88).
Conclusions
Our findings point to the urgent need for interventions to reduce HIV-related stigma, not only for improving quality of life among persons living with HIV, but also for better health outcomes among all childbearing women and their families.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, nearly 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Almost all these “maternal” deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 500 whereas in industrialized countries it is only 12. Most maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding after childbirth), post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, and blood pressure disorders during pregnancy. All these conditions can be prevented if women have access to adequate reproductive health services and if trained health care workers are present during delivery. Notably, in sub-Saharan Africa, infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) is an increasingly important contributor to maternal mortality. HIV infection causes maternal mortality directly by increasing the occurrence of pregnancy complications and indirectly by increasing the susceptibility of pregnant women to malaria, tuberculosis, and other “opportunistic” infections—HIV-positive individuals are highly susceptible to other infections because HIV destroys the immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although skilled delivery attendants reduce maternal mortality, there are many barriers to their use in developing countries including cost and the need to travel long distances to health facilities. Fears and experiences of HIV-related stigma and discrimination (prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV) may also be a barrier to the use of skilled childbirth service. Maternity services are prime locations for HIV testing and for the provision of interventions for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, so pregnant women know that they will have to “deal with” the issue of HIV when visiting these services. In this prospective mixed-methods study, the researchers examine the role of pregnant women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma in their subsequent use of maternity services in Nyanza Province, Kenya, a region where 16% women aged 15–49 are HIV-positive and where only 44.2% of mothers give birth in a health facility. A mixed-methods study combines qualitative data—how people feel about an issue—with quantitative data—numerical data about outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma (MAMAS) study, pregnant women with unknown HIV status living in rural regions of Nyanza Province answered questions about their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal clinic visit. After delivery, the researchers asked the women who tested HIV positive or were not tested for HIV and a sample of HIV-negative women where they had delivered their baby. They also gathered qualitative information about barriers to maternity and HIV service use by interviewing childbearing women, family members, and community health workers. The qualitative data indicate that labor in a health facility is commonly viewed as being most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications such as HIV infection. Thus, women delivering at health facilities risk being labeled as HIV positive, a label that the community associates with promiscuity. The quantitative data indicate that women with more negative attitudes about HIV-positive people (higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma) at baseline were about half as likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant as women with more positive attitudes about people living with HIV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that HIV-related stigma is associated with the low rate of delivery by skilled attendants in rural areas of Nyanza Province and possibly in other rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Community mobilization efforts aimed at increasing the use of PMTCT services may be partly responsible for the strong perception that delivery in a health facility is most appropriate for women with HIV and other pregnancy complications and may have inadvertently strengthened the perception that women who give birth in such facilities are likely to be HIV positive. The researchers suggest, therefore, that health messages should stress that delivery in a health facility is recommended for all women, not just HIV-positive women or those with pregnancy complications, and that interventions should be introduced to reduce HIV-related stigma. This combined strategy has the potential to increase the use of maternity services by all women and the use of HIV and PMTCT services, thereby reducing some of the most pressing health problems facing women and their children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001295.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal mortality, including the WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA/World Bank 2008 country estimates of maternal mortality; a UNICEF special report tells the stories of seven mothers living with HIV in Lesotho
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality (in several languages); the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, are designed to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015
Immpact is a global research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper published by the independent humanitarian medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in March 2012
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on women, HIV and AIDS, on HIV and pregnancy, on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination, and on HIV in Kenya (in English and Spanish); Avert also has personal stories from women living with HIV
The Stigma Action Network (SAN) is a collaborative endeavor that aims to comprehensively coordinate efforts to develop and expand program, research, and advocacy strategies for reducing HIV stigma worldwide, including mobilizing stakeholders, delivering program and policy solutions, and maximizing investments in HIV programs and services globally
The People Living with Stigma Index aims to address stigma relating to HIV and advocate on key barriers and issues perpetuating stigma; it has recently published Piecing it together for women and girls, the gender dimensions of HIV-related stigma
The Health Policy Project http://www.healthpolicyproject.com has prepared a review of the academic and programmatic literature on stigma and discrimination as barriers to achievement of global goals for maternal health and the elimination of new child HIV infections (see under Resources)
More information on the MAMAS study is available from the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001295
PMCID: PMC3424253  PMID: 22927800
8.  First Diagnosis and Management of Incontinence in Older People with and without Dementia in Primary Care: A Cohort Study Using The Health Improvement Network Primary Care Database 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001505.
Robert Grant and colleagues used the British THIN primary care database to determine rates of first diagnosis of urinary and faecal incontinence among people aged 60–89 with dementia compared with those without dementia, and the use of medication or indwelling catheters for urinary incontinence in those with and without dementia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Dementia is one of the most disabling and burdensome diseases. Incontinence in people with dementia is distressing, adds to carer burden, and influences decisions to relocate people to care homes. Successful and safe management of incontinence in people with dementia presents additional challenges. The aim of this study was to investigate the rates of first diagnosis in primary care of urinary and faecal incontinence among people aged 60–89 with dementia, and the use of medication or indwelling catheters for urinary incontinence.
Methods and Findings
We extracted data on 54,816 people aged 60–89 with dementia and an age-gender stratified sample of 205,795 people without dementia from 2001 to 2010 from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a United Kingdom primary care database. THIN includes data on patients and primary care consultations but does not identify care home residents. Rate ratios were adjusted for age, sex, and co-morbidity using multilevel Poisson regression.
The rates of first diagnosis per 1,000 person-years at risk (95% confidence interval) for urinary incontinence in the dementia cohort, among men and women, respectively, were 42.3 (40.9–43.8) and 33.5 (32.6–34.5). In the non-dementia cohort, the rates were 19.8 (19.4–20.3) and 18.6 (18.2–18.9). The rates of first diagnosis for faecal incontinence in the dementia cohort were 11.1 (10.4–11.9) and 10.1 (9.6–10.6). In the non-dementia cohort, the rates were 3.1 (2.9–3.3) and 3.6 (3.5–3.8).
The adjusted rate ratio for first diagnosis of urinary incontinence was 3.2 (2.7–3.7) in men and 2.7 (2.3–3.2) in women, and for faecal incontinence was 6.0 (5.1–7.0) in men and 4.5 (3.8–5.2) in women. The adjusted rate ratio for pharmacological treatment of urinary incontinence was 2.2 (1.4–3.7) for both genders, and for indwelling urinary catheters was 1.6 (1.3–1.9) in men and 2.3 (1.9–2.8) in women.
Conclusions
Compared with those without a dementia diagnosis, those with a dementia diagnosis have approximately three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence, and more than four times the rate of faecal incontinence, in UK primary care. The clinical management of urinary incontinence in people with dementia with medication and particularly the increased use of catheters is concerning and requires further investigation.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Globally, more than 35 million people have dementia, brain disorders that are characterized by an irreversible decline in cognitive functions such as language and memory. Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia mainly affect older people and, because people are living longer than ever, experts estimate that by 2050 more than 115 million people will have dementia. The earliest sign of dementia is usually increasing forgetfulness but, as the disease progresses, people gradually lose their ability to deal with normal daily activities such as dressing, they may become anxious or aggressive, and they may lose control of their bladder (urinary incontinence), bowels (bowel or fecal incontinence), and other physical functions. As a result, people with dementia require increasing amounts of care as the disease progresses. Relatives and other unpaid carers provide much of this care—two-thirds of people with dementia are cared for at home. However, many people with dementia end their days in a care or nursing home.
Why Was This Study Done?
Incontinence in people with dementia is distressing for the person with dementia and for their carers and often influences decisions to move individuals into care homes. However, little is known about the diagnosis and treatment of urinary and/or fecal incontinence among people with dementia living at home. This information is needed to help policymakers commission the services required for this section of society and insurers recognize the needs such patients have, as well as helping to raise clinicians' awareness of the issue. In this cohort study (an investigation that compares outcomes in groups of people with different characteristics), the researchers use data routinely collected from general practices (primary care) in the UK to determine the rate of first diagnosis of urinary and fecal incontinence in elderly patients with and without dementia and to find out whether a diagnosis of dementia affects the rate of use of drugs or of indwelling urinary catheters (tubes inserted into the bladder to drain urine from the body) for the treatment of urinary incontinence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted data collected between 2001 and 2010 on incontinence for nearly 55,000 people aged 60–89 with a diagnosis of dementia (the dementia cohort) and for more than 200,000 individuals without a diagnosis of dementia (the non-dementia cohort) from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) primary care database, which includes anonymized consultation records from nearly 500 UK general practices. In the dementia cohort, the rates of first diagnosis of urinary incontinence were 42.3 and 33.5 per 1,000 person-years at risk among men and women, respectively. In the non-dementia cohort, the corresponding rates were 19.8 and 18.6. The rates of first diagnosis of fecal incontinence were 11.1 and 10.1 in the dementia cohort, and 3.1 and 3.6 in the non-dementia cohort among men and women, respectively. After adjusting for age, sex and other diseases, the adjusted rate ratio for the first diagnosis of urinary incontinence in people with dementia compared to people without dementia was 3.2 in men and 2.7 in women; for fecal incontinence, it was 6.0 in men and 4.5 in women; the adjusted rate ratio was 2.2 for both men and women for drug treatment of urinary incontinence and 1.6 in men and 2.3 in women for use of indwelling urinary catheters.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in primary care in the UK, dementia is associated with a three-fold higher rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence and a greater than four-fold higher rate of diagnosis of fecal incontinence. Moreover, the authors suggest that some aspects of clinical management of urinary continence vary between people with and without dementia. In particular, the use of indwelling urinary catheters appears to be more common among people with dementia than among people without dementia, increasing the risk of infection. Thus, health care practitioners providing care for people with dementia may be prioritizing ease of management over risk avoidance, a possibility that requires further investigation. Although the accuracy of these findings is limited by certain aspects of the study design (for example, the THIN database does not identify which patients are living in care homes), they nevertheless suggest that policymakers and insurers involved in planning and providing services for people with dementia living at home need to provide high levels of help with incontinence, including the provision of advice and support for carers.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001505.
The UK not-for-profit organization Alzheimers Society provides information for patients and carers about dementia, including information on coping with incontinence and personal stories about living with dementia
The US not-for-profit organization Alzheimers Association also provides information for patients and carers about dementia and about incontinence, and personal stories about dementia
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about dementia, urinary incontinence, and bowel incontinence
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about dementia, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence (in English and Spanish)
The International Continence Society and the International Consultation on Urological Diseases provide independent advice on products to manage incontinence
More information about the THIN database is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001505
PMCID: PMC3754889  PMID: 24015113
9.  Impact of Antiretroviral Therapy on Incidence of Pregnancy among HIV-Infected Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000229.
A multicountry cohort study in sub-Saharan Africa by Landon Myer and colleagues reveals higher pregnancy rates in HIV-infected women on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Background
With the rapid expansion of antiretroviral therapy (ART) services in sub-Saharan Africa there is growing recognition of the importance of fertility and childbearing among HIV-infected women. However there are few data on whether ART initiation influences pregnancy rates.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed data from the Mother-to-Child Transmission-Plus (MTCT-Plus) Initiative, a multicountry HIV care and treatment program for women, children, and families. From 11 programs in seven African countries, women were enrolled into care regardless of HIV disease stage and followed at regular intervals; ART was initiated according to national guidelines on the basis of immunological and/or clinical criteria. Standardized forms were used to collect sociodemographic and clinical data, including incident pregnancies. Overall 589 incident pregnancies were observed among the 4,531 women included in this analysis (pregnancy incidence, 7.8/100 person-years [PY]). The rate of new pregnancies was significantly higher among women receiving ART (9.0/100 PY) compared to women not on ART (6.5/100 PY) (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.74; 95% confidence interval, 1.19–2.54). Other factors independently associated with increased risk of incident pregnancy included younger age, lower educational attainment, being married or cohabiting, having a male partner enrolled into the program, failure to use nonbarrier contraception, and higher CD4 cell counts.
Conclusions
ART use is associated with significantly higher pregnancy rates among HIV-infected women in sub-Saharan Africa. While the possible behavioral or biomedical mechanisms that may underlie this association require further investigation, these data highlight the importance of pregnancy planning and management as a critical but neglected component of HIV care and treatment services.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is a major global cause of disease and death. More than 33 million people around the world are infected with HIV, with nearly 5,500 dying daily from HIV and AIDS-related complications. HIV/AIDS is especially problematic in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the leading cause of death. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but medicines known as “antiretroviral therapy” (ART) can prolong life and reduce complications in patients infected with HIV. 97% of patients with HIV/AIDS live in low- and middle-income countries. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 10 million of these patients need ART. As patients' access to treatment is often hindered by the high cost and low availability of ART, global health efforts have focused on promoting ART use in resource-limited nations. Such efforts also increase awareness of how HIV is spread (contact with blood or semen, in sexual intercourse, sharing needles, or from mother to child during childbirth). ART reduces, but does not remove, the chance of a mother's passing HIV to her child during birth.
Why Was This Study Done?
By the end of 2007, 3 million HIV-infected patients in poor countries were receiving ART. Many of those treated with ART are young women of child-bearing age. Childbirth is an important means of spreading HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, where 60% of all HIV patients are women. This study questions whether the improved health and life expectancy that results from treatment with ART affects pregnancy rates of HIV-infected patients. The study explores this question in seven African countries, by examining the rates of pregnancy in HIV-infected women before and after they started ART.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors looked at the records of 4,531 HIV-infected women enrolled in the Mother-to-Child-Transmission-Plus (MTCT-Plus) Initiative in seven African countries. MTCT -Plus, begun in 2002, is a family-centered treatment program that offers regular checkups, blood tests, counseling, and ART treatment (if appropriate) to women and their families. At each checkup, women's CD4+ cell counts and World Health Organization guidelines were used to determine their eligibility for starting ART. Over a 4-year period, nearly a third of the women starting ART experienced a pregnancy: 244 pregnancies occurred in the “pre-ART” group (women not receiving ART) compared to 345 pregnancies in the “on-ART” group (women receiving ART). The chance of pregnancy increased over time in the on-ART group to almost 80% greater than the pre-ART group, while remaining relatively low and constant in the pre-ART group. The authors noted that, as expected, other factors also increased the chances of pregnancy, including younger age, lower educational status, and use of nonbarrier contraception such as injectable hormones.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study suggests that starting ART is associated with higher pregnancy rates in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly doubling the chances of a woman becoming pregnant. The reasons for this link are unclear. One possible explanation is behavioral: women receiving ART may feel more motivated to have children as their health and quality of life improve. However, the study did not examine how pregnancy desires and sexual activity of women changed while on ART, and cannot discern why ART is linked to increased pregnancy. By using pregnancy data gathered from patient questionnaires rather than laboratory tests, the study is limited by the possibility of inaccurate patient reporting. Understanding how pregnancy rates vary in HIV-infected women receiving ART helps support the formation of responsive, effective HIV programs. Female HIV patients of child-bearing age, who form the majority of patients receiving ART in sub-Saharan Africa, would benefit from programs that combine starting HIV treatment with ART with education and contraception counseling and pregnancy-related care.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000229.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including a list of articles and other sources of information about the primary care of adolescents with HIV
A UNAIDS 2008 report is available on the global AIDS epidemic
The International Planned Parenthood Foundation provides information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV
The International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public health provides information to assist HIV care and treatment programs in resource-limited settings
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000229
PMCID: PMC2817715  PMID: 20161723
10.  The Double Burden of Obesity and Malnutrition in a Protracted Emergency Setting: A Cross-Sectional Study of Western Sahara Refugees 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001320.
Surveying women and children from refugee camps in Algeria, Carlos Grijalva-Eternod and colleagues find high rates of obesity among women as well as many undernourished children, and that almost a quarter of households are affected by both undernutrition and obesity.
Background
Households from vulnerable groups experiencing epidemiological transitions are known to be affected concomitantly by under-nutrition and obesity. Yet, it is unknown to what extent this double burden affects refugee populations dependent on food assistance. We assessed the double burden of malnutrition among Western Sahara refugees living in a protracted emergency.
Methods and Findings
We implemented a stratified nutrition survey in October–November 2010 in the four Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria. We sampled 2,005 households, collecting anthropometric measurements (weight, height, and waist circumference) in 1,608 children (6–59 mo) and 1,781 women (15–49 y). We estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM), stunting, underweight, and overweight in children; and stunting, underweight, overweight, and central obesity in women. To assess the burden of malnutrition within households, households were first classified according to the presence of each type of malnutrition. Households were then classified as undernourished, overweight, or affected by the double burden if they presented members with under-nutrition, overweight, or both, respectively.
The prevalence of GAM in children was 9.1%, 29.1% were stunted, 18.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight; among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight or obese, and 71.4% had central obesity. Central obesity (47.2%) and overweight (38.8%) in women affected a higher proportion of households than did GAM (7.0%), stunting (19.5%), or underweight (13.3%) in children. Overall, households classified as overweight (31.5%) were most common, followed by undernourished (25.8%), and then double burden–affected (24.7%).
Conclusions
The double burden of obesity and under-nutrition is highly prevalent in households among Western Sahara refugees. The results highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in this population and balance obesity prevention and management with interventions to tackle under-nutrition.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Good nutrition is essential for human health and survival. Insufficient food intake causes under-nutrition, which increases susceptibility to infections; intake of too much or inappropriate food, in particular in interaction with sedentary behaviour, can lead to obesity, which increases the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. During the past 30 years, the prevalence (the proportion of a population affected by a condition) of obesity has greatly increased, initially among adults in industrialized countries, but more recently among children and in less-affluent populations. Now, worldwide, overweight people outnumber under-nourished people. Furthermore, some populations are affected by both under-nutrition and obesity, forms of malnutrition that occur when the diet is suboptimal for health. So, for example, a child can be both stunted (short for his or her age, an indicator of long-term under-nutrition) and overweight (too heavy for his or her age). The emergence of this double burden of malnutrition has been attributed to the nutrition transition—the rapid move because of migration or urbanization to a lifestyle characterized by low levels of physical activity and high consumption of refined, energy-dense foods—without complete elimination of under-nutrition.
Why Was This Study Done?
Refugees are one group of people in whom under-nutrition and obesity sometimes coexist. Worldwide, in 2010, 15.4 million refugees were dependent on host governments and international humanitarian agencies for their food security and well-being. It is essential that these governments and organizations provide appropriate food assistance programs to refugees—policies that are appropriate during acute emergencies may not be appropriate in protracted emergencies and may contribute to the emergence of the double burden of malnutrition among refugees. Unfortunately, the extent to which the double burden of malnutrition affects refugees in protracted emergencies is unknown. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that looks at the characteristics of a population at a single time), the researchers assessed the double burden of malnutrition among people from Western Sahara who have been living in four refugee camps near Tindouf city, Algeria, since 1975.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from a 2010 survey that measured the height and weight of children and the height, weight, and waist circumference of women living in 2,005 households in the Algerian refugee camps. For the children, they estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (which includes thin, “wasted” children, as indicated by a low weight for height based on the World Health Organization growth standards, and those with nutritional oedema), stunting, and underweight and overweight (low and high weight for age and gender, respectively). For the women, they estimated the prevalence of stunting, underweight (body mass index less than 18.5 kg/m2), overweight (body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2), and central obesity (a waist circumference of more than 80 cm). Among the children, 9.1% had global acute malnutrition, 29.1% were stunted, 8.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight. Among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight, and 71.4% had central obesity. Notably, central obesity and overweight in women affected more households than global acute malnutrition, stunting, and underweight in children. Finally, based on whether a household included members with under-nutrition or overweight, alone or in combination, the researchers classified a third of households as overweight, a quarter as undernourished, and a quarter as affected by the double burden of malnutrition.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that there is a high prevalence of the double burden of malnutrition among households in Western Saharan refugee camps in Algeria. Although this study provides no information on men and does not investigate whether the obesity seen in these camps leads to an increased risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, these findings have several important implications for the provision of food assistance and care for protracted humanitarian emergencies. For example, they highlight the need to promote long-term food security and to improve nutrition adequacy and food diversity in protracted emergencies. In addition, they suggest that current food assistance programs that are suitable for acute emergencies may not be suitable for extended emergencies. They also highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in refugee camps and to develop innovative ways to provide obesity prevention and management in these settings. However, as the researchers stress, careful policy and advocacy work is essential to ensure that efforts to deal with the threat of obesity among refugees do not jeopardize support for life-saving food assistance programs for refugees.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001320.
Wikipedia provides background information about the Western Sahara refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of nutrition and obesity (in several languages)
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides detailed information about hunger and information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria, including personal stories and photographs of food distribution
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the United Nations body mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide; its website provides detailed information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria
Oxfam also provides detailed information about its work in the Algerian refugee camps, a description of the camps, and personal stories from people living in the camps
An article published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations explains the double burden of malnutrition
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001320
PMCID: PMC3462761  PMID: 23055833
11.  An Intervention to Reduce HIV Risk Behavior of Substance-Using Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Two-Group Randomized Trial with a Nonrandomized Third Group 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(8):e1000329.
In a randomized trial of a behavioral intervention among substance-using men who have sex with men, aimed at reducing sexual risk behavior, Mansergh and colleagues fail to find evidence of a reduction in risk from the intervention.
Background
Substance use during sex is associated with sexual risk behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM), and MSM continue to be the group at highest risk for incident HIV in the United States. The objective of this study is to test the efficacy of a group-based, cognitive-behavioral intervention to reduce risk behavior of substance-using MSM, compared to a randomized attention-control group and a nonrandomized standard HIV-testing group.
Methods and Findings
Participants (n = 1,686) were enrolled in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco and randomized to a cognitive-behavioral intervention or attention-control comparison. The nonrandomized group received standard HIV counseling and testing. Intervention group participants received six 2-h group sessions focused on reducing substance use and sexual risk behavior. Attention-control group participants received six 2-h group sessions of videos and discussion of MSM community issues unrelated to substance use, sexual risk, and HIV/AIDS. All three groups received HIV counseling and testing at baseline. The sample reported high-risk behavior during the past 3 mo prior to their baseline visit: 67% reported unprotected anal sex, and 77% reported substance use during their most recent anal sex encounter with a nonprimary partner. The three groups significantly (p<0.05) reduced risk behavior (e.g., unprotected anal sex reduced by 32% at 12-mo follow-up), but were not different (p>0.05) from each other at 3-, 6-, and 12-mo follow-up. Outcomes for the 2-arm comparisons were not significantly different at 12-mo follow-up (e.g., unprotected anal sex, odds ratio = 1.14, confidence interval = 0.86–1.51), nor at earlier time points. Similar results were found for each outcome variable in both 2- and 3-arm comparisons.
Conclusions
These results for reducing sexual risk behavior of substance-using MSM are consistent with results of intervention trials for other populations, which collectively suggest critical challenges for the field of HIV behavioral interventions. Several mechanisms may contribute to statistically indistinguishable reductions in risk outcomes by trial group. More explicit debate is needed in the behavioral intervention field about appropriate scientific designs and methods. As HIV prevention increasingly competes for behavior-change attention alongside other “chronic” diseases and mental health issues, new approaches may better resonate with at-risk groups.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00153361
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s among gay men living in the US. As the disease spread around the world, it became clear that AIDS also affects heterosexual men and women. Now, three decades on, more than 30 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread by having unprotected sex with an infected partner and, globally, most sexual transmission of HIV now occurs during heterosexual sex. However, 5%–10% of all new HIV infections still occur in men who have sex with men (MSM, a term that encompasses gay, bisexual, transgendered, and heterosexual men who sometimes have sex with men) and, in several high-income countries, male-to-male sexual contact remains the most important HIV transmission route. In the US, for example, more than half of the approximately 50,000 people who become infected with HIV every year do so through male-to-male sexual contact.
Why Was This Study Done?
In countries where MSM are the group at highest risk of HIV infection, any intervention that reduces HIV transmission in MSM should have a major effect on the overall HIV infection rate. Among MSM, sexual behaviors that increase the risk of HIV infection (for example, not using a condom, having anal sex, having sex with a partner of unknown HIV status, and having sex with many partners) are associated with the use of alcohol and noninjection drugs (for example, inhaled amyl nitrite or poppers) during or shortly before sexual encounters. In this study (Project MIX), the researchers investigate whether a group-based behavioral intervention reduces sexual risk behavior in substance-using MSM.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited substance-using MSM from four US cities who had had risky sex at least once in the past 6 months. Participants were randomized to a cognitive-behavioral intervention or to an attention-control group; a third, nonrandomized group of MSM formed a standard HIV counseling and testing only group. All the groups had HIV counseling and testing at the start of the study and completed a questionnaire about their substance use and sexual risk behavior during their most recent anal sex encounter. The cognitive-behavior group then received six weekly 2-hour group sessions focused on reducing substance use and sexual risk behavior by helping the men change their thinking (cognition) and behavior regarding sexual risk taking. The attention-control group received six group sessions about general MSM issues such as relationships, excluding discussion of substance use, and sexual risk behavior. The participants in both of these groups completed the questionnaire about their substance use and sexual risk behavior again at 3, 6, and 12 months after the group sessions; the participants in the standard HIV counseling and testing group completed the questionnaire again about 5 months after completing the first questionnaire (to control for the time taken by the other two groups to complete the intervention). At baseline, about 67% of the participants reported unprotected anal sex and 77% reported substance use during their most recent anal sex encounter with a nonprimary partner. At the 3-month follow-up, the incidence of sexual risk behavior had fallen to about 43% in all three groups; the incidence of substance use during sex had fallen to about 50%. Risk taking and substance use remained at these levels in the intervention and attention-control groups at the later follow-up time points.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that this cognitive-behavioral intervention is no better at reducing sexual risk taking among substance-using MSM than is an unrelated video-discussion group or standard HIV counseling and testing. One explanation for this negative result might be that brief counseling is especially effective with people who are ready for a change such as MSM willing to enroll in an intervention trial of this type. Alternatively, just being in the trial might have encouraged all the participants to self-report reduced risk behavior. Thus, alternative scientific designs and methods might be needed to find behavioral interventions that can effectively reduce HIV transmission among substance-using MSM and other people at high risk of HIV infection. Importantly, however, these findings raise the question of whether more extensive, multilevel interventions or broader lifestyle and positive health approaches (rather than single-level or single-subject behavioral interventions) might be needed to reduce sexual risk behavior among substance-using MSM.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000329.
Information is available from the US Department of Health and Human Services on HIV prevention programs, research, and policy
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV transmission and transmission in gay men and other MSM, on substance abuse and HIV/AIDS, and on safer sex
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS nonprofit, on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV, AIDS, and men who have sex with men and on drink, drugs, and sex (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have information for the public and for professionals about HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse has information on HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, including a resource aimed at educating teenagers about the link between drug abuse and the spread of HIV in the US (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000329
PMCID: PMC2927550  PMID: 20811491
12.  HIV, Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, and Sex Work: A Qualitative Study of Intersectional Stigma Experienced by HIV-Positive Women in Ontario, Canada 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001124.
Mona Loutfy and colleagues used focus groups to examine experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada.
Background
HIV infection rates are increasing among marginalized women in Ontario, Canada. HIV-related stigma, a principal factor contributing to the global HIV epidemic, interacts with structural inequities such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. The study objective was to explore experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a community-based qualitative investigation using focus groups to understand experiences of stigma and discrimination and coping methods among HIV-positive women from marginalized communities. We conducted 15 focus groups with HIV-positive women in five cities across Ontario, Canada. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis to enhance understanding of the lived experiences of diverse HIV-positive women. Focus group participants (n = 104; mean age = 38 years; 69% ethnic minority; 23% lesbian/bisexual; 22% transgender) described stigma/discrimination and coping across micro (intra/interpersonal), meso (social/community), and macro (organizational/political) realms. Participants across focus groups attributed experiences of stigma and discrimination to: HIV-related stigma, sexism and gender discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work. Coping strategies included resilience (micro), social networks and support groups (meso), and challenging stigma (macro).
Conclusions
HIV-positive women described interdependent and mutually constitutive relationships between marginalized social identities and inequities such as HIV-related stigma, sexism, racism, and homo/transphobia. These overlapping, multilevel forms of stigma and discrimination are representative of an intersectional model of stigma and discrimination. The present findings also suggest that micro, meso, and macro level factors simultaneously present barriers to health and well being—as well as opportunities for coping—in HIV-positive women's lives. Understanding the deleterious effects of stigma and discrimination on HIV risk, mental health, and access to care among HIV-positive women can inform health care provision, stigma reduction interventions, and public health policy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
HIV-related stigma and discrimination—prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV—is a major factor contributing to the global HIV epidemic. HIV-related stigma, which devalues and stereotypes people living with HIV, increases vulnerability to HIV infection by reducing access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and support. At the personal (micro) level, HIV-related stigma can make it hard for people to take tests to determine their HIV status or to tell other people that they are HIV positive. At the social/community (meso) level, it can mean that HIV-positive people are ostracized from their communities. At the organizational/political (macro) level, it can mean that health-care workers treat HIV-positive people differently and that governments are deterred from taking fast, effective action against the HIV epidemic. In addition, HIV-related stigma is negatively associated with well-being among people living with HIV. Thus, among HIV-positive people, those who have experienced HIV-related stigma have higher levels of mental and physical illness.
Why Was This Study Done?
Racism (oppression and inequity founded on ethno-racial differences), sexism and gender discrimination (oppression and inequity based on gender bias in attitudes), and homophobia and transphobia (discrimination, fear, hostility, and violence towards nonheterosexual and transgender people, respectively) can also affect access to HIV services. However, little is known about how these different forms of stigma and discrimination interact (intersect). A better understanding of the effect of intersecting stigmas on people living with HIV could help in the development of stigma reduction interventions and HIV prevention, treatment and care programs, and could help to control global HIV infection rates. In this qualitative study (an analysis of people's attitudes and experiences rather than numerical data), the researchers investigate the intersection of HIV-related stigma, racism, sexism and gender discrimination, homophobia and transphobia among marginalized HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada. As elsewhere in the world, HIV infection rates are increasing among women in Canada. Nearly 25% of people living with HIV in Canada are women and about a quarter of all new infections are in women. Moreover, there is a disproportionately high infection rate among marginalized women in Canada such as sex workers and lesbian, bisexual, and queer women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers held 15 focus groups with 104 marginalized HIV-positive women who were recruited by word-of-mouth and through flyers circulated in community agencies serving women of diverse ethno-cultural origins. Each focus group explored topics that included challenges in daily life, medical issues and needs, and issues that were silenced within the participants' communities. The researchers analyzed the data from these focus groups using thematic analysis, an approach that identifies, analyzes, and reports themes in qualitative data. They found that women living with HIV in Ontario experienced multiple types of stigma at different levels. So, for example, women experienced HIV-related stigma at the micro (“If you're HIV-positive, you feel shameful”), meso (“The thing I hate most for people that test positive for HIV is that society ostracizes them”), and macro (“A lot of women are not getting employed because they have to disclose their status”) levels. The women also attributed their experiences of stigma and discrimination to sexism and gender discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work at all three levels and described coping strategies at the micro (resilience; “I always live with hope”), meso (participation in social networks), and macro (challenging stigma) levels.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that marginalized HIV-positive women living in Ontario experience overlapping forms of stigma and discrimination and that these forms of stigma operate over micro, meso, and macro levels, as do the coping strategies adopted by the women. Together, these results support an intersectional model of stigma and discrimination that should help to inform discussions about the complexity of stigma and coping strategies. However, because only a small sample of nonrandomly selected women was involved in this study, these findings need to be confirmed in other groups of HIV-positive women. If confirmed, the complex system of interplay of different forms of stigma revealed here should help to inform health-care provision, stigma reduction interventions, and public-health policy, and could, ultimately, help to bring the global HIV epidemic under control.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment; its publication HIV and stigma deals with HIV-related stigma in the UK
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on women, HIV, and AIDS, on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination, and on HIV/AIDS statistics for Canada (in English and Spanish)
The People Living with Stigma Index to address stigma relating to HIV and advocate on key barriers and issues perpetuating stigma; it has recently published Piecing it together for women and girls, the gender dimensions of HIV-related stigma; its website will soon include a selection of individual stories about HIV-related stigma
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124
PMCID: PMC3222645  PMID: 22131907
13.  Mixing it Up: Integrating Men and Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Prevention Groups 
Aims
The current study was conducted to examine the impact of mixing genders in HIV prevention intervention groups targeted toward HIV positive men and women.
Methods
Men (N=310) and women (N=126) participated in a randomized clinical trial testing a behavioral risk reduction/ medication adherence intervention versus a general health control condition administered to small mixed gender groups. Gender composition of groups was examined in relation to participant group attendance and group satisfaction measures through correlations and logistic regression.
Results
Significant regression models were found for men in the risk reduction condition and for women in the general health condition, however, regression models were not significant for women in the risk reduction condition and men in the general health condition.
Discussion
The findings indicate that mixing genders in risk reduction interventions for men and women living with HIV/AIDS has no negative impact on women’s group satisfaction and may positively impact men’s group satisfaction. This calls into question the assumption that gender sensitive material will always make individuals uncomfortable within mixed gender groups.
Implications for practice and policy
In practice, mixed gender intervention groups can be a helpful option for delivering programs to diverse populations especially when resources are limited within community-based services providers and AIDS service organizations.
Conclusion
Although more thorough investigation is needed about the consequences and possible benefits of mixing genders within HIV prevention intervention groups, this study supports the idea that mixing genders may be a viable option, in practice, without sacrificing the integrity of the intervention.
doi:10.1080/15381501.2013.790751
PMCID: PMC4267877  PMID: 25525414
HIV/AIDS; risk reduction; medication adherence
14.  The Potential Impact of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention among Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transwomen in Lima, Peru: A Mathematical Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001323.
Gabriela Gomez and colleagues developed a mathematical model of the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men and transwomen in Lima, Peru to explore whether HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis could be a cost-effective addition to existing HIV prevention strategies.
Background
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the use of antiretroviral drugs by uninfected individuals to prevent HIV infection, has demonstrated effectiveness in preventing acquisition in a high-risk population of men who have sex with men (MSM). Consequently, there is a need to understand if and how PrEP can be used cost-effectively to prevent HIV infection in such populations.
Methods and Findings
We developed a mathematical model representing the HIV epidemic among MSM and transwomen (male-to-female transgender individuals) in Lima, Peru, as a test case. PrEP effectiveness in the model is assumed to result from the combination of a “conditional efficacy” parameter and an adherence parameter. Annual operating costs from a health provider perspective were based on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interim guidelines for PrEP use. The model was used to investigate the population-level impact, cost, and cost-effectiveness of PrEP under a range of implementation scenarios. The epidemiological impact of PrEP is largely driven by programme characteristics. For a modest PrEP coverage of 5%, over 8% of infections could be averted in a programme prioritising those at higher risk and attaining the adherence levels of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative study. Across all scenarios, the highest estimated cost per disability-adjusted life year averted (uniform strategy for a coverage level of 20%, US$1,036–US$4,254) is below the World Health Organization recommended threshold for cost-effective interventions, while only certain optimistic scenarios (low coverage of 5% and some or high prioritisation) are likely to be cost-effective using the World Bank threshold. The impact of PrEP is reduced if those on PrEP decrease condom use, but only extreme behaviour changes among non-adherers (over 80% reduction in condom use) and a low PrEP conditional efficacy (40%) would adversely impact the epidemic. However, PrEP will not arrest HIV transmission in isolation because of its incomplete effectiveness and dependence on adherence, and because the high cost of programmes limits the coverage levels that could potentially be attained.
Conclusions
A strategic PrEP intervention could be a cost-effective addition to existing HIV prevention strategies for MSM populations. However, despite being cost-effective, a substantial expenditure would be required to generate significant reductions in incidence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Without a vaccine, the only ways to halt the global HIV epidemic are prevention strategies that reduce transmission of the HIV virus. Up until recently, behavioral strategies such as condom use and reduction of sexual partners have been at the center of HIV prevention. In the past few years, several biological prevention measures have also been shown to be effective in reducing (though not completely preventing) HIV transmission. These include male circumcision, treatment for prevention (giving antiretroviral drugs to HIV-infected people, before they need it for their own health, to reduce their infectiousness) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), in which HIV-negative people use antiretroviral drugs to protect themselves from infection. One PrEP regimen (a daily pill containing two different antiretrovirals) has been shown in a clinical trial to reduce new infections by 44% in of men who have sex with men (MSM). In July 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved this PrEP regimen to reduce the risk of HIV infection in uninfected men and women who are at high risk of HIV infection and who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners. The approval makes it clear that PrEP needs to be used in combination with safe sex practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
Clinical trials have shown that PrEP can reduce HIV infections among participants, but they have not examined the consequences PrEP could have at the population level. Before decision-makers can decide whether to invest in PrEP programs, they need to know about the costs and benefits at the population level. Besides the price of the drug itself, the costs include HIV testing before starting PrEP, as well as regular tests thereafter. The health benefits of reducing new HIV infections are calculated in “disability-adjusted life years” (or DALYs) averted. One DALY is equal to one year of healthy life lost. Other benefits include future savings in lifelong HIV/AIDS treatment for every person whose infection is prevented by PrEP.
This study estimates the potential costs and health benefits of several hypothetical PrEP roll-out scenarios among the community of MSM in Lima, Peru. The scientists chose this community because many of the participants in the clinical trial that showed that PrEP can reduce infections came from this community, and they therefore have some knowledge on how PrEP affects HIV infection rates and behavior in this population. Because the HIV epidemic in Lima is concentrated among MSM, similar to most of Latin America and several other developed countries, the results might also be relevant for the evaluation of PrEP in other places.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their scenarios, the researchers looked at “high coverage” and “low coverage” scenarios, in which 20% and 5% of uninfected individuals use PrEP, respectively. They also divided the MSM community into those at lower risk of becoming infected and those at higher risk. The latter group consisted of transwomen at higher risk (transsexuals and transvestites with many sexual partners) and male sex workers. In a “uniform coverage” scenario, PrEP is equally distributed among all MSM. “Prioritized scenarios” cover transwomen at higher risk and sex workers preferentially. Two additional important factors for the estimated benefits are treatment adherence (i.e., whether people take the pills they have been prescribed faithfully over long periods of time even though they are not sick) and changes in risk behavior (i.e., whether the perceived protection provided by PrEP leads to more unprotected sex).
The cost estimates for PrEP included the costs of the drug itself and HIV tests prior to PrEP prescription and at three-month intervals thereafter, as well as outreach and counseling services and condom and lubricant promotion and provision.
To judge whether under the various scenarios PrEP is cost-effective, the researchers applied two commonly used but different cost-effectiveness thresholds. The World Health Organization's WHO-CHOICE initiative considers an intervention cost-effective if its cost is less than three times the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita per DALY averted. For Peru, this means an intervention should cost less than US$16,302 per DALY. The World Bank has more stringent criteria: it considers an intervention cost-effective for a middle-income country like Peru if it costs less than US$500 per DALY averted.
The researchers estimate that PrEP is cost-effective in Lima's MSM population for most scenarios by WHO-CHOICE guidelines. Only scenarios that prioritize PrEP to those most likely to become infected (i.e., transwomen at higher risk and sex workers) are cost-effective (and only barely) by the more stringent World Bank criteria. If the savings on antiretroviral drugs to treat people with HIV (those who would have become infected without PrEP) are included in the calculation, most scenarios become cost-effective, even under World Bank criteria.
The most cost-effective scenario, namely, having a modest coverage of 5%, prioritizing PrEP to transwomen at higher risk and sex workers, and assuming fairly high adherence levels among PrEP recipients, is estimated to avert about 8% of new infections among this community over ten years.
What Do these Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that under some circumstances, PrEP could be a cost-effective tool to reduce new HIV infections. However, as the researchers discuss, PrEP is expensive and only partly effective. Moreover, its effectiveness depends on two behavioral factors—adherence to a strict drug regimen and continued practicing of safe sex—both of which remain hard to predict. As a consequence, PrEP alone is not a valid strategy to prevent new HIV infections. It needs instead to be considered as one of several available tools. If and when PrEP is chosen as part of an integrated prevention strategy will depend on the specific target population, the overall funds available, and how well its cost-effectiveness compares with other prevention measures.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001323.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and a section on PrEP
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including HIV prevention
AVAC Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention provides up-to-date information on HIV prevention, including PrEP
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information on PrEP
The World Health Organization has a page on its WHO-CHOICE criteria for cost-effectiveness
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001323
PMCID: PMC3467261  PMID: 23055836
15.  Working with men to prevent intimate partner violence in a conflict-affected setting: a pilot cluster randomized controlled trial in rural Côte d’Ivoire 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:339.
Background
Evidence from armed conflict settings points to high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women. Current knowledge on how to prevent IPV is limited—especially within war-affected settings. To inform prevention programming on gender-based violence in settings affected by conflict, we evaluated the impact of adding a targeted men’s intervention to a community-based prevention programme in Côte d’Ivoire.
Methods
We conducted a two-armed, non-blinded cluster randomized trial in Côte d’Ivoire among 12 pair-matched communities spanning government-controlled, UN buffer, and rebel–controlled zones. The intervention communities received a 16-week IPV prevention intervention using a men’s discussion group format. All communities received community-based prevention programmes. Baseline data were collected from couples in September 2010 (pre-intervention) and follow-up in March 2012 (one year post-intervention). The primary trial outcome was women’s reported experiences of physical and/or sexual IPV in the last 12 months. We also assessed men’s reported intention to use physical IPV, attitudes towards sexual IPV, use of hostility and conflict management skills, and participation in gendered household tasks. An adjusted cluster-level intention to treat analysis was used to compare outcomes between intervention and control communities at follow-up.
Results
At follow-up, reported levels of physical and/or sexual IPV in the intervention arm had decreased compared to the control arm (ARR 0.52, 95% CI 0.18-1.51, not significant). Men participating in the intervention reported decreased intentions to use physical IPV (ARR 0.83, 95% CI 0.66-1.06) and improved attitudes toward sexual IPV (ARR 1.21, 95% CI 0.77-1.91). Significant differences were found between men in the intervention and control arms’ reported ability to control their hostility and manage conflict (ARR 1.3, 95% CI 1.06-1.58), and participation in gendered household tasks (ARR 2.47, 95% CI 1.24-4.90).
Conclusions
This trial points to the value of adding interventions working with men alongside community activities to reduce levels of IPV in conflict-affected settings. The intervention significantly influenced men’s reported behaviours related to hostility and conflict management and gender equitable behaviours. The decreased mean level of IPV and the differences between intervention and control arms, while not statistically significant, suggest that IPV in conflict-affected areas can be reduced through concerted efforts to include men directly in violence prevention programming. A larger-scale trial is needed to replicate these findings and further understand the mechanisms of change.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov NCT01803932
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-339
PMCID: PMC4007144  PMID: 24716478
Conflict; Impact evaluation; Violence prevention; Men; Intimate partner violence
16.  Gender differences in the long-term effects of a nutritional intervention program promoting the Mediterranean diet: changes in dietary intakes, eating behaviors, anthropometric and metabolic variables 
Nutrition Journal  2014;13(1):107.
Background
Long-term adherence to principles of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) following a nutritional intervention promoting the Mediterranean food pattern in Canadian men and women is not known. Moreover, gender differences in dietary and metabolic profile in such an intervention context has never been addressed. Objective was to determine gender differences in long-term effects of a 12-week nutritional intervention program promoting the adoption of the MedDiet and based on the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) on dietary intakes, eating behaviors, anthropometric and metabolic variables, in men and women presenting cardiovascular risk factors.
Methods
Sixty-four men and 59 premenopausal women were recruited. The 12-week nutritional program used a motivational interviewing approach and included individual and group sessions. A food frequency questionnaire was administered to evaluate dietary intakes from which a Mediterranean score (Medscore) was derived and the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire allowed assessment of eating behaviors. Measurements were performed at baseline and after the 12-week nutritional intervention, and then at 3 and 6-month post intervention.
Results
No gender difference was observed in changes in the Medscore during the nutritional intervention and follow-up. However, the Medscore returned towards baseline values during follow-up in men and women (P <0.0001). Men reported larger decreases in red and processed meat and larger increases in whole fruit intakes than women (P = 0.03 and P = 0.04, respectively). Men showed a greater decrease in habitual susceptibility to disinhibition than women (P = 0.03). A gender by time interaction was found for waist circumference, i.e. men had lower waist circumference at the end of the intervention as well as at follow-up than at baseline while women’s waist circumference decreased in response to the intervention only (P = 0.05). As for metabolic variables, changes observed in total-cholesterol (C) to HDL-C ratio, triglyceride levels and triglycerides to HDL-C ratio were more pronounced in men than in women after the intervention as well as at follow-up (P ≤0.03).
Conclusions
Our results indicate that the 12-week nutritional intervention based on the SDT leads to more pronounced beneficial changes in long-term dietary intakes in men than in women and to greater improvements in metabolic profile in men.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials NCT01852721.
doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-107
PMCID: PMC4247653  PMID: 25416917
Gender differences; Mediterranean diet; Cardiovascular risk; long-term dietary changes
17.  The involvement of men in maternal health care: cross-sectional, pilot case studies from Maligita and Kibibi, Uganda 
Reproductive Health  2014;11(1):68.
Background
The International Conference on Population Development held in Cairo in 1994 identified the importance of male involvement in reproductive health programs. Since then, there has been an increase in reproductive health initiatives that target both men and women in an attempt to fulfill the 5th Millenium Development Goal. Yet, while the benefits of male involvement have been acknowledged, there continues to be a challenge in creating a space for and engaging men in maternal health. This is problematic due to the role of men as the head of the household in many countries, especially developing countries, which suffer from higher rates of maternal mortality. Furthermore, men are important as partners, fathers and health care professionals and as such it is important to involve and engage with men in maternal health education, and antenatal care.
Methods
The purpose of this study undertaken in two rural villages in southeastern Uganda, was twofold: firstly to understand men’s current participation in antenatal, pregnancy care and childbirth and secondly to gain insight into both men and women’s attitudes toward increased male involvement. Focus group discussions and semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect information from 35 men and women. The women were either pregnant or had been involved in a birth experience in the past 3 years and the men had wives who were pregnant or had given birth recently.
Results
Men interviewed in the two villages believed that issues related to pregnancy and childbirth were the domain of women. Involvement tended to be confined (to removed) strictly to traditional gender roles, with men’s main responsibility being provision of funds. The women, on the other hand, were interested in receiving more support from their husband through planning, attendance to antenatal care and physical presence in the vicinity of where the birth was taking place.
Conclusion
This cross-sectional study has highlighted the space for increased male involvement and participation in maternal health, proposed recommendations and the need for community health education directed at men that engages them in this important area.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-11-68
PMCID: PMC4167520  PMID: 25192714
Antenatal care; Male involvement; Maternal health outcomes; Uganda
18.  Differences in socioeconomic and gender inequalities in tobacco smoking in Denmark and Sweden; a cross sectional comparison of the equity effect of different public health policies 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:9.
Background
Denmark and Sweden are considered to be countries of rather similar socio-political type, but public health policies and smoking habits differ considerably between the two neighbours. A study comparing mechanisms behind socioeconomic inequalities in tobacco smoking, could yield information regarding the impact of health policy and -promotion in the two countries.
Methods
Cross-sectional comparisons of socioeconomic and gender differences in smoking behaviour among 6 995 Danish and 13 604 Swedish persons aged 18-80 years.
Results
The prevalence of smoking was higher in Denmark compared to Sweden. The total attributable fraction (TAF) of low education regarding daily smoking was 36% for Danish men and 35% for Danish women, and 32% and 46%, respectively, for Swedish men and women. TAF of low education regarding continued smoking were 16.2% and 15.8% for Danish men and women, and 11.0% and 18.8% for Swedish men and women, respectively
The main finding of the study was that the socioeconomic patterning of smoking, based on level of education and expressed as the relative contribution to the total burden of smoking exposure, was rather different in Sweden and Denmark. Moreover, these differences were modified by gender and age. As a general pattern, socioeconomic differences in Sweden tended to contribute more to the total burden of this habit among women, especially in the younger age groups. In men, the patterns were much more similar between the two countries. Regarding continued smoking/unsuccessful quitting, the patterns were similar for women, but somewhat different for men. Here we found that socioeconomic differences contributed more to overall continued smoking in Danish men, especially in the middle-age and older age strata.
Conclusion
The results imply that Swedish anti-smoking policy and/or implemented measures have been less effective in a health equity perspective among the younger generation of women, but more effective among men, compared to Danish policy implementation. The results also raises the more general issue regarding the possible need for a trade-off principle between overall population efficacy versus equity efficacy of anti-tobacco, as well as general public health policies and intervention strategies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-9
PMCID: PMC3091588  PMID: 20064219
19.  Relationship Between Gender and In-Hospital Morbidity and Mortality After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery in an Iranian Population 
Background:
Many previous studies have investigated the influence of gender on coronary artery bypass grafting surgery (CABG) outcomes. Despite the great volume of reports on this issue, it is still not clear whether it is the gender of the patient or pre-existing comorbid conditions that is the best predictor for the different outcomes seen between men and women. Multiple studies have shown that women are at higher risk of postoperative complications than men, particularly in the perioperative period.
Objectives:
The goal of this study was to determine whether sex differences exist in preoperative variables between men and women, and to evaluate the effect of gender on short-term mortality and morbidity after CABG in an Iranian population.
Patients and Methods:
Data were collected prospectively from 690 consecutive patients (495 men and 195 women) who underwent isolated CABG. Preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative variables, major complications and death were compared between the male and female patients until hospital discharge using multivariate analysis.
Results:
Women were older (P = 0.020), had more diabetes (P = 0.0001), more obesity (P = 0.010), a higher New York Heart Association functional class (P = 0.030), and there was less use of arterial grafts (P = 0.016). Men had more tobacco smokers (P = 0.0001) and lower preoperative ejection fractions (EF) (P = 0.030). After surgery, women had a higher incidence of respiratory complications (P = 0.003), higher creatine kinase (CK) – MB levels (P = 0.0001), and higher inotropic support requirements (P = 0.030). They also had a higher incidence of decreased postoperative EF versus preoperative values (P = 0.020). The length of ICU stay, incidence of return to ICU and postoperative death, were similar between men and women. Nevertheless, after adjusting for age and diabetes, female gender was still independently associated with higher morbidity in patients over 50 years of age.
Conclusions:
Women had more risk factors, comorbidities, and postoperative complications. Women older than 50 years of age were at a higher risk of postoperative complications than men. This difference decreased with younger age. In-hospital mortality rates were not influenced by sex, as there was no difference found between the two groups (2.5% women vs. 2.2% men; P > 0.05).
doi:10.5812/cardiovascmed.4543
PMCID: PMC4253884  PMID: 25478483
20.  “Man, what took you so long?” Social and individual factors affecting adult attendance at voluntary medical male circumcision services in Tanzania 
In a study in Tanzania, men and women generally supported male circumcision; however, cultural values that the procedure is most appropriate before adolescence, shame associated with being circumcised at an older age, and concerns about the post-surgical abstinence period have led to low uptake among older men.
In a study in Tanzania, men and women generally supported male circumcision; however, cultural values that the procedure is most appropriate before adolescence, shame associated with being circumcised at an older age, and concerns about the post-surgical abstinence period have led to low uptake among older men.
ABSTRACT
Background:
In 2009, the Government of Tanzania embarked on scaling up voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) services for HIV prevention in 8 priority regions, with the aim of serving 2.8 million boys and men ages 10–34 years by 2013. By mid-2012, more than 110,000 boys and men in Iringa and Njombe regions had received VMMC. The majority (85%) of these VMMC clients were under 19 years old (average age, 16 years). This study aimed to identify potential barriers and facilitators to VMMC among older men.
Methods:
We conducted 16 focus group discussions, stratified by sex and age, with 142 purposefully selected participants in 3 districts of Iringa and Njombe regions.
Results:
Both men and women generally had positive attitudes toward VMMC. Social and personal barriers to obtaining VMMC among adult men included shame associated with seeking services co-located with younger boys and perceived inappropriateness of VMMC after puberty, particularly after marriage and after having children. Additional barriers included concerns about partner infidelity during the post-surgical abstinence period, loss of income, and fear of pain associated with post-surgical erections. Facilitators included awareness of the HIV-prevention benefit and perceptions of cleanliness and enhanced attractiveness to women.
Conclusions:
While men and women in Iringa and Njombe regions in Tanzania generally view VMMC as a desirable procedure, program implementers need to address barriers to VMMC services among adult men. Selected service delivery sites in the Iringa and Njombe regions will be segregated by age to provide services that are “friendly” to adult men. Services will be complemented with behavior change communication initiatives to address concerns of older men, encourage women’s support for circumcision and adherence to the post-surgical abstinence period, and change social norms that inhibit older men from seeking circumcision.
doi:10.9745/GHSP-D-12-00037
PMCID: PMC4168557  PMID: 25276521
21.  Gender-based differences in the inflammatory profile of peripheral artery disease and the association with primary patency of lower extremity vein bypass grafts 
Objective
To determine if there are gender-based differences in the inflammatory phenotype of patients undergoing lower extremity bypass (LEB), and if they correlate with clinical outcomes.
Methods
Retrospective analysis of a prospective cohort study of 225 patients (161 men and 64 women) who underwent LEB using autogenous vein between February 2004 and May 2008. Fasting baseline blood samples were obtained prior to surgery and included the inflammatory biomarkers high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen. All patients underwent ultrasound graft surveillance. CRP levels were dichotomized at 5mg/L, and fibrinogen levels were dichotomized at 600mg/dL.
Results
There were no significant differences in age, race, history of hypertension or diabetes mellitus, body mass index, and coronary artery disease between men and women. Men were more likely to be current smokers (p=0.02), have a history of hypercholesterolemia (p=0.02) and taking statins (p=0.02). Women were more likely to present with critical limb ischemia (p=0.03) and had higher baseline CRP levels (median:5.15 mg/L; IQR:1.51-18.62mg/L) compared to men (median:2.70; IQR:1.24-6.98mg/L) (p=0.02). The median follow-up was 893 days (IQR:539-1315 days). In a multivariable Cox proportional hazards model for primary vein graft patency, there was a significant interaction between gender and both CRP (p=0.03) fibrinogen (p=0.02). After adjustment for key covariates, primary vein graft patency was significantly less in women with CRP>5mg/L compared to women with CRP<5mg/L (p=0.02), while there was no such difference seen in men (p=0.95). Primary graft patency was also decreased in women with fibrinogen>600mg/dL compared to women with fibrinogen<600mg/dL (p=0.002), but again, this pattern was not evident in men (p=0.19).
Conclusions
Women undergoing LEB for advanced peripheral artery disease have a different inflammatory phenotype compared to men, and elevated baseline levels of CRP and fibrinogen are associated with inferior vein graft patency in women, but not in men. These findings indicate an important interaction between gender and inflammation in the healing response of lower extremity vein bypass grafts. Women with elevated pre-operative CRP and fibrinogen levels may benefit from more intensive post-operative graft surveillance protocols.
doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2012.01.059
PMCID: PMC3408787  PMID: 22633420
22.  Community Health Worker Hepatitis B Education for Cambodian American Men and Women 
Background
Cambodian Americans have high rates of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and liver cancer. There is very limited information about the utility of community health worker (CHW) approaches to cancer education for Asian American men. We have previously reported our positive findings from a trial of CHW education about HBV for Cambodian Americans who had never been tested for HBV. This report describes similarities and differences between the outcomes of our CHW HBV educational intervention among Cambodian American men and women.
Methods
The study group for this analysis included 87 individuals (39 men and 48 women) who were randomized to the experimental (HBV education) arm of our trial, participated in the CHW educational intervention, and provided follow-up data six months post-intervention. We examined HBV testing rates at follow-up, changes in HBV-related knowledge between baseline and follow-up, and barriers to HBV testing (that were reported to CHWs) by gender.
Results
At follow-up, 15% of men and 31% of women reported they had received a HBV test (p=0.09). HBV-related knowledge levels increased significantly among both men and women. With respect to HBV testing barriers, women were more likely than men to cite knowledge deficits, and men were more likely than women to cite logistic issues.
Discussion
Our study findings indicate that CHW interventions can positively impact knowledge among Cambodian American men, as well as women. They also suggest CHW interventions may be less effective in promoting the use of preventive procedures by Cambodian American men than women. Future CHW research initiatives should consider contextual factors that may differ by gender and, therefore, potentially influence the relative effectiveness of CHW interventions for men versus women.
PMCID: PMC3801266  PMID: 24083730
Cambodian Americans; Hepatitis B Infection; Liver Cancer; Community Health Workers
23.  Attitudes toward and experiences of gender issues among physician teachers: A survey study conducted at a university teaching hospital in Sweden 
Background
Gender issues are important to address during medical education, however research about the implementation of gender in medical curricula reports that there are obstacles. The aim of this study was to explore physician teachers' attitudes to gender issues.
Methods
As part of a questionnaire, physician teachers at Umeå University in Sweden were given open-ended questions about explanations for and asked to write examples why they found gender important or not. The 1 469 comments from the 243 respondents (78 women, 165 men) were analyzed by way of content analysis. The proportion of comments made by men and women in each category was compared.
Results
We found three themes in our analysis: Understandings of gender, problems connected with gender and approaches to gender. Gender was associated with differences between women and men regarding behaviour and disease, as well as with inequality of life conditions. Problems connected with gender included: delicate situations involving investigations of intimate body parts or sexual attraction, different expectations on male and female physicians and students, and difficulty fully understanding the experience of people of the opposite sex. The three approaches to gender that appeared in the comments were: 1) avoidance, implying that the importance of gender in professional relationships was recognized but minimized by comparing gender with aspects, such as personality and neutrality; 2) simplification, implying that gender related problems were easy to address, or already solved; and 3) awareness, implying that the respondent was interested in gender issues or had some insights in research about gender. Only a few individuals described gender as an area of competence and knowledge. There were comments from men and women in all categories, but there were differences in the relative weight for some categories. For example, recognizing gender inequities was more pronounced in the comments from women and avoidance more common in comments from men.
Conclusion
The surveyed physician teachers gave many examples of gender-related problems in medical work and education, but comments describing gender as an area of competence and knowledge were few. Approaches to gender characterized by avoidance and simplification suggest that faculty development programs on gender need to address and reflect on attitudes as well as knowledge.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-10
PMCID: PMC2289828  PMID: 18302735
24.  The Effects of a Tailored Cardiac Rehabilitation Program on Depressive Symptoms in Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
Background
Depression is known to co-occur with coronary heart disease (CHD). Depression may also inhibit the effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs by decreasing adherence. Higher prevalence of depression in women may place them at increased risk for non-adherence.
Objective
To assess the impact of a modified, stage-of-change-matched, gender-tailored CR program for reducing depressive symptoms among women with CHD.
Methods
A 2-group randomized clinical trial compared depressive symptoms of women in a traditional 12-week CR program to those completing a tailored program that included motivational interviewing guided by the Transtheoretical Model of behavior change. Women in the experimental group also participated in a gender-tailored exercise protocol that excluded men. The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) Scale was administered to 225 women at baseline, post-intervention, and at 6-month follow-up. Analysis of Variance was used to compare changes in depression scores over time.
Results
Baseline CES-D scores were 17.3 and 16.5 for the tailored and traditional groups, respectively. Post-intervention mean scores were 11.0 and 14.3; Six-month follow-up scores were 13.0 and 15.2, respectively. A significant group by time interaction was found for CES-D scores (F(2, 446) = 4.42, p = .013). Follow-up tests revealed that the CES-D scores for the traditional group did not differ over time (F(2, 446) = 2.00, p = .137). By contrast, the tailored group showed significantly decreased CES-D scores from baseline to post-test (F(1, 223) = 50.34, p < .001); despite the slight rise from post-test to 6-month followup, CES-D scores remained lower than baseline (F(1, 223) = 19.25, p < .001).
Conclusion
This study demonstrated that a modified, gender-tailored CR program reduced depressive symptoms in women when compared to a traditional program. To the extent that depression hinders CR adherence, such tailored programs have potential to improve outcomes for women by maximizing adherence. Future studies should explore the mechanism by which such programs produce benefits.
doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2010.06.005
PMCID: PMC4108994  PMID: 20615504
depression; cardiac rehabilitation; motivational interviewing; women; transtheoretical model
25.  Traditional Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy: A Drug–Drug Interaction? 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e157.
Background
Suppression of prostacyclin (PGI2) is implicated in the cardiovascular hazard from inhibitors of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2. Furthermore, estrogen confers atheroprotection via COX-2–dependent PGI2 in mice, raising the possibility that COX inhibitors may undermine the cardioprotection, suggested by observational studies, of endogenous or exogenous estrogens.
Methods and Findings
To identify an interaction between hormone therapy (HT) and COX inhibition, we measured a priori the association between concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), excluding aspirin, in peri- and postmenopausal women on HT and the incidence of myocardial infarction (MI) in a population-based epidemiological study. The odds ratio (OR) of MI in 1,673 individuals and 7,005 controls was increased from 0.66 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.50–0.88) when taking HT in the absence of traditional (t)NSAIDs to 1.50 (95% CI 0.85–2.64) when taking the combination of HT and tNSAIDs, resulting in a significant (p < 0.002) interaction. The OR when taking aspirin at doses of 150 mg/d or more was 1.41 (95% CI 0.47–4.22). However, a similar interaction was not observed with other commonly used drugs, including lower doses of aspirin, which target preferentially COX-1.
Conclusions
Whether estrogens confer cardioprotection remains controversial. Such a benefit was observed only in perimenopausal women in the only large randomized trial designed to address this issue. Should such a benefit exist, these results raise the possibility that COX inhibitors may undermine the cardioprotective effects of HT.
It is controversial whether estrogens confer cardioprotection. This study suggests that even should such a benefit exist, COX inhibitors may undermine cardioprotective effects of hormone therapy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
There is currently a great deal of uncertainty regarding the effect of postmenopausal hormone therapy on heart disease in women. Premenopausal women are much less likely to experience heart attacks and strokes than men, a difference that does not exist between postmenopausal women and men. One mechanism that might explain these observations relates to the effect of estrogen, which is thought to have a protective effect on the heart. Hormone replacement therapy (HT) consisting of replacement estrogen, and sometimes progesterone as well, is often taken by women experiencing symptoms of menopause. Evidence from observational studies and the Womens' Health Initiative (WHI) trial has suggested that HT protects against heart disease in perimenopausal women. However, researchers have suggested that any beneficial effect of hormone replacement therapy on the heart might be counteracted by the effects of certain types of painkillers also being taken by women involved in the studies. These painkillers, nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs), prevent production of a molecule called prostacyclin. Prostacyclin plays a role in preventing blood clotting and is therefore thought to be important in protecting the heart. Estrogen, however, acts to increase production of prostacyclin, and it is therefore theoretically possible that hormone replacement therapy does have a beneficial effect on heart health, but which is counteracted by the negative effects of NSAIDs.
Why Was This Study Done?
In this study, the researchers wanted to find out whether there was any evidence for an interaction between NSAID use, hormone replacement therapy, and heart disease. Such understanding in turn might help to identify more clearly whether hormone replacement therapy protects against heart disease in specific subgroups of postmenopausal women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
This study was carried out using information from the UK's General Practice Research Database, which is the largest computer database of anonymous medical records from primary care anywhere in the world. It contains information entered by UK general practitioners on their patients' drug prescriptions, diagnoses, referrals to hospital, and other data. The researchers here searched for all individuals from the database who were aged between 50 and 84 years on 1 January 1997, and then followed them up through the database for four years, or until the individual died, reached 85 years of age, or was diagnosed with a heart attack or cancer. From this search, the researchers found 1,673 women who had heart attacks or who died from coronary heart disease; these were considered “cases.” Then, these 1,673 women were matched against 20,000 “control” women of similar age. Information was pulled out for each case or control on their use of hormone replacement therapy, NSAIDs (covering 21 different drugs, but most commonly diclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen), and various risk factors for heart disease. The researchers then compared use of hormone replacement therapy and NSAIDs between the cases and controls, while making statistical adjustments for other risk factors (such as diabetes and smoking, for example).
  The researchers found that current use of hormone replacement therapy was associated with a lower risk of heart attack than non-use. The odds ratio (chance of a heart attack among HT users compared to the chance among non-users of HT) was 0.78. However, when looking at women who used NSAIDs at the same time as hormone replacement therapy, the researchers found no suggestion of a reduction in risk of heart attack: the odds ratio for the chance of heart attack among this group of women, as compared to nonusers of both NSAIDs and hormone replacement therapy, was 1.50.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that hormone replacement therapy and NSAIDs might interact, with NSAIDs acting against a role for hormone replacement therapy in preventing heart attacks. At face value, these results are in conflict with the findings of one large trial, the WHI trial, which failed to find a benefit of HT in preventing heart attacks. However, a recent analysis of WHI suggests cardioprotective effects of HT in women close to the time of the menopause and this coincides with the younger age of women in the observational studies such as the present one rather than in the WHI overall. Observational research studies, such as the present one, are often difficult to interpret because the groups being compared are not necessarily equivalent. It's possible that women who take hormone replacement therapy, or NSAIDs, are in some way different from women who do not, which will bias the findings. Determination of the clinical implications of these findings would most appropriately be resolved in future trials, designed to address the question of interest.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040157.
Resources from the US National Institutes of Health on menopausal hormone therapy, including links to information about the Women's Health Initiative trials, information about managing menopausal symptoms, and more
Resources from the US National Institutes of Health (MedlinePlus) about heart disease in women
Information from NHS Direct, the UK National Health Service, about hormone replacement therapy
The UK General Practice Research Database is the database utilized in this article
Wikipedia entry on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (note: Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040157
PMCID: PMC1872041  PMID: 17518513

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