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1.  Expanding contraceptive options for PMTCT clients: a mixed methods implementation study in Cape Town, South Africa 
Reproductive Health  2014;11:3.
Clients of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services in South Africa who use contraception following childbirth rely primarily on short-acting methods like condoms, pills, and injectables, even when they desire no future pregnancies. Evidence is needed on strategies for expanding contraceptive options for postpartum PMTCT clients to include long-acting and permanent methods.
We examined the process of expanding contraceptive options in five health centers in Cape Town providing services to HIV-positive women. Maternal/child health service providers received training and coaching to strengthen contraceptive counseling for postpartum women, including PMTCT clients. Training and supplies were introduced to strengthen intrauterine device (IUD) services, and referral mechanisms for female sterilization were reinforced. We conducted interviews with separate samples of postpartum PMTCT clients (265 pre-intervention and 266 post-intervention) to assess knowledge and behaviors regarding postpartum contraception. The process of implementing the intervention was evaluated through systematic documentation and interpretation using an intervention tracking tool. In-depth interviews with providers who participated in study-sponsored training were conducted to assess their attitudes toward and experiences with promoting voluntary contraceptive services to HIV-positive clients.
Following the intervention, 6% of interviewed PMTCT clients had the desired knowledge about the IUD and 23% had the desired knowledge about female sterilization. At both pre- and post-intervention, 7% of clients were sterilized and IUD use was negligible; by comparison, 75% of clients used injectables. Intervention tracking and in-depth interviews with providers revealed intervention shortcomings and health system constraints explaining the failure to produce intended effects.
The intervention failed to improve PMTCT clients’ knowledge about the IUD and sterilization or to increase use of those methods. To address the family planning needs of postpartum PMTCT clients in a way that is consistent with their fertility desires, services must expand the range of contraceptive options to include long-acting and permanent methods. In turn, to ensure consistent access to high quality family planning services that are effectively linked to HIV services, attention must also be focused on resolving underlying health system constraints weakening health service delivery more generally.
PMCID: PMC3895666  PMID: 24410922
PMTCT; Family planning; Intrauterine device; Female sterilization; Implementation; South Africa
2.  Factors impacting knowledge and use of long acting and permanent contraceptive methods by postpartum HIV positive and negative women in Cape Town, South Africa: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:197.
The prevention of unintended pregnancies among HIV positive women is a neglected strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Women who want to avoid unintended pregnancies can do this by using a modern contraceptive method. Contraceptive choice, in particular the use of long acting and permanent methods (LAPMs), is poorly understood among HIV-positive women. This study aimed to compare factors that influence women's choice in contraception and women's knowledge and attitudes towards the IUD and female sterilization by HIV-status in a high HIV prevalence setting, Cape Town, South Africa.
A quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted using an interviewer-administered questionnaire amongst 265 HIV positive and 273 HIV-negative postpartum women in Cape Town. Contraceptive use, reproductive history and the future fertility intentions of postpartum women were compared using chi-squared tests, Wilcoxon rank-sum and Fisher's exact tests where appropriate. Women's knowledge and attitudes towards long acting and permanent methods as well as factors that influence women's choice in contraception were examined.
The majority of women reported that their most recent pregnancy was unplanned (61.6% HIV positive and 63.2% HIV negative). Current use of contraception was high with no difference by HIV status (89.8% HIV positive and 89% HIV negative). Most women were using short acting methods, primarily the 3-monthly injectable (Depo Provera). Method convenience and health care provider recommendations were found to most commonly influence method choice. A small percentage of women (6.44%) were using long acting and permanent methods, all of whom were using sterilization; however, it was found that poor knowledge regarding LAPMs is likely to be contributing to the poor uptake of these methods.
Improving contraceptive counselling to include LAPM and strengthening services for these methods are warranted in this setting for all women regardless of HIV status. These study results confirm that strategies focusing on increasing users' knowledge about LAPM are needed to encourage uptake of these methods and to meet women's needs for an expanded range of contraceptives which will aid in preventing unintended pregnancies. Given that HIV positive women were found to be more favourable to future use of the IUD it is possible that there may be more uptake of the IUD amongst these women.
PMCID: PMC3328250  PMID: 22424141
PMTCT; Contraception; Fertility intentions; Unintended pregnancies; HIV; IUD; Female sterilization
3.  Rates of IUCD discontinuation and its associated factors among the clients of a social franchising network in Pakistan 
BMC Women's Health  2012;12:8.
Modern Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) is very safe, highly effective reversible and inexpensive family planning method which offers 5-10 years of protection against pregnancy. The contraceptive use in Pakistan has been merely 30% for over a decade with IUCD being the least used method. Higher discontinuation rates are documented in developing countries; however no such data is available for Pakistan. Marie Stopes Society (MSS) established a social franchise outlets network branded as 'SURAJ' (Sun) in Pakistan to provide quality family planning services. This study attempts to determine IUCD discontinuation rates and its associated risk factors. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, a cross-sectional study was conducted with 3000 clients who availed IUCD services from Suraj provider 6, 12 and 24 month back,. Data were analyzed in SPSS 17.0; adjusted prevalence ratios were calculated to see associations between discontinuation and its risk factors.
Case presentation
We found that 22.7% of the IUCD acceptors experienced some health problem; while the overall discontinuation rate was 18.9% with average time of usage of 7.4 (SD ± 5.8) months before discontinuation. Half of them showed health concerns (49.8%); of which a majority (70.2%) returned to Suraj provider for IUCD removal. Women living in Punjab, residing at a travelling time of 30-60 minutes and no previous use of contraceptive are more likely to discontinue IUCD. However, among total women 81.7% still expressed willingness to avail IUCD services from Suraj provider in future, if needed.
The findings suggest a need for training the providers and field workers to prevent early discontinuation of IUCD among the Suraj clients and by addressing the health concerns through proper counseling, continued follow-up and immediate medical aid/referral in case of complications.
PMCID: PMC3337819  PMID: 22458444
Intra-uterine contraceptive device; Clients' satisfaction; Contraception; Family planning counseling; Social franchising
4.  Silent uterine perforation by an IUCD inserted during the puerperium 
BMJ Case Reports  2011;2011:bcr0220113840.
A 38-year-old lady, with a history of recent caesarean section, was diagnosed with a silent uterine perforation by a copper intrauterine contraceptive device under fluoroscopic examination. The incidence of uterine perforation and the increased risk in the puerperium are discussed. The use of ultrasound as the first line investigation is recommended.
PMCID: PMC3143331  PMID: 22689596
5.  The relevance of social contexts and social action in reducing substance use and victimization among women participating in an HIV prevention intervention in Cape Town, South Africa 
To examine qualitatively how women’s social context and community mobilization (eg, mobilizing women to take social action and engaging their community in social change) influence substance use abstinence and victimization among women participating in a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) intervention in Cape Town, South Africa.
Thirty women who had participated in a randomized controlled trial of a group-delivered intervention to address substance use, gender-based violence, and associated risk for HIV (The Women’s Health CoOp) were selected to participate in semi-structured interviews about their perceived impact of the intervention on their substance use and exposure to victimization. The Women’s CoOp intervention involved creating a new positive social environment for women within a group setting that also fostered women’s social action (eg, educating peers or family members) in the community. Interviews were analyzed using content analysis and coded to examine women’s descriptions of social contexts and social action, and the influence of these on women’s substance use abstinence and exposure to victimization.
Social support (eg, via program staff and other participants) and social action (eg, engaging others in the community on issues relevant to substance use prevention or other health topics) promoted within the program, as well as outside social influences within women’s life contexts (eg, support from non-substance using family or male partners, leaving male partners or other peer relationships characterized by drug use, or finding employment) were key factors reported by women in terms of facilitating their substance use abstinence and in reducing women’s exposures to victimization.
Findings highlight the potential for group-delivered interventions that include mobilizing women to take social action in the larger community to be effective approaches for facilitating substance use abstinence, reductions in victimization, and ultimately, to address the intersection between substance use, violence, and HIV risk among women in this high HIV prevalence setting.
PMCID: PMC3931639  PMID: 24648788
HIV prevention; substance use; social context; women
6.  HIV testing attitudes, AIDS stigma, and voluntary HIV counselling and testing in a black township in Cape Town, South Africa 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2003;79(6):442-447.
Objectives: A cornerstone of HIV prevention in South Africa is voluntary HIV antibody counselling and testing (VCT), but only one in five South Africans aware of VCT have been tested. This study examined the relation between HIV testing history, attitudes towards testing, and AIDS stigmas.
Methods: Men (n = 224) and women (n = 276) living in a black township in Cape Town completed venue intercept surveys; 98% were black, 74% age 35 or younger.
Results: 47% of participants had been tested for HIV. Risks for exposure to HIV were high and comparable among people tested and not tested. Comparisons on attitudes toward VCT, controlling for demographics and survey venue, showed that individuals who had not been tested for HIV and those tested but who did not know their results held significantly more negative testing attitudes than individuals who were tested, particularly people who knew their test results. Compared to people who had been tested, individuals who were not tested for HIV demonstrated significantly greater AIDS related stigmas; ascribing greater shame, guilt, and social disapproval to people living with HIV. Knowing test results among those tested was not related to stigmatising beliefs.
Conclusions: Efforts to promote VCT in South Africa require education about the benefits of testing and, perhaps more important, reductions in stigmatising attitudes towards people living with AIDS. Structural and social marketing interventions that aim to reduce AIDS stigmas will probably decrease resistance to seeking VCT.
PMCID: PMC1744787  PMID: 14663117
7.  Depressed mood in pregnancy: Prevalence and correlates in two Cape Town peri-urban settlements 
The disability associated with depression and its impact on maternal and child health has important implications for public health policy. While the prevalence of postnatal depression is high, there are no prevalence data on antenatal depression in South Africa. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and correlates of depressed mood in pregnancy in Cape Town peri-urban settlements.
This study reports on baseline data collected from the Philani Mentor Mothers Project (PMMP), a community-based, cluster-randomized controlled trial on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The PMMP aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a home-based intervention for preventing and managing illnesses related to HIV, TB, alcohol use and malnutrition in pregnant mothers and their infants. Participants were 1062 pregnant women from Khayelitsha and Mfuleni, Cape Town. Measures included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), the Derived AUDIT-C, indices for social support with regards to partner and parents, and questions concerning socio-demographics, intimate partner violence, and the current pregnancy. Data were analysed using bivariate analyses followed by logistic regression.
Depressed mood in pregnancy was reported by 39% of mothers. The strongest predictors of depressed mood were lack of partner support, intimate partner violence, having a household income below R2000 per month, and younger age.
The high prevalence of depressed mood in pregnancy necessitates early screening and intervention in primary health care and antenatal settings for depression. The effectiveness and scalability of community-based interventions for maternal depression must be developed for pregnant women in peri-urban settlements.
Trial registration NCT00972699.
PMCID: PMC3113332  PMID: 21535876
8.  Barriers to involvement of men in ANC and VCT in Khayelitsha, South Africa 
AIDS Care  2012;24(8):972-977.
We used qualitative methods to assess pregnant women and men's attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions to male partners’ involvement in antenatal clinic (ANC) in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa. The aims of these studies were to determine barriers to male partners’ attendance of ANC with their pregnant female partners and to identify possible strategies to overcome these barriers. Findings from the qualitative studies demonstrated that pregnant women were keen to invite their male sexual partners and that men would attend if invited. The main barrier to male participation was lack of awareness and the healthcare facility environment. The findings of these studies emphasized the need to increase awareness among men in Khayelitsha of the need for male attendance of ANC and the need to address the barriers to male attendance of ANC. It was clear that community sensitization programmes coupled with improvement of the health facility environment to be receptive to men are essential for increasing male attendance of ANC.
PMCID: PMC3613944  PMID: 22519913
male involvement; male sexual partners; male ANC attendance; men involvement; men ANC attendance
9.  Feasibility, Yield, and Cost of Active Tuberculosis Case Finding Linked to a Mobile HIV Service in Cape Town, South Africa: A Cross-sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001281.
Katharina Kranzer and colleagues investigate the operational characteristics of an active tuberculosis case-finding service linked to a mobile HIV testing unit that operates in underserviced areas in Cape Town, South Africa.
The World Health Organization is currently developing guidelines on screening for tuberculosis disease to inform national screening strategies. This process is complicated by significant gaps in knowledge regarding mass screening. This study aimed to assess feasibility, uptake, yield, treatment outcomes, and costs of adding an active tuberculosis case-finding program to an existing mobile HIV testing service.
Methods and Findings
The study was conducted at a mobile HIV testing service operating in deprived communities in Cape Town, South Africa. All HIV-negative individuals with symptoms suggestive of tuberculosis, and all HIV-positive individuals regardless of symptoms were eligible for participation and referred for sputum induction. Samples were examined by microscopy and culture. Active tuberculosis case finding was conducted on 181 days at 58 different sites. Of the 6,309 adults who accessed the mobile clinic, 1,385 were eligible and 1,130 (81.6%) were enrolled. The prevalence of smear-positive tuberculosis was 2.2% (95% CI 1.1–4.0), 3.3% (95% CI 1.4–6.4), and 0.4% (95% CI 1.4 015–6.4) in HIV-negative individuals, individuals newly diagnosed with HIV, and known HIV, respectively. The corresponding prevalence of culture-positive tuberculosis was 5.3% (95% CI 3.5–7.7), 7.4% (95% CI 4.5–11.5), 4.3% (95% CI 2.3–7.4), respectively. Of the 56 new tuberculosis cases detected, 42 started tuberculosis treatment and 34 (81.0%) completed treatment. The cost of the intervention was US$1,117 per tuberculosis case detected and US$2,458 per tuberculosis case cured. The generalisability of the study is limited to similar settings with comparable levels of deprivation and TB and HIV prevalence.
Mobile active tuberculosis case finding in deprived populations with a high burden of HIV and tuberculosis is feasible, has a high uptake, yield, and treatment success. Further work is now required to examine cost-effectiveness and affordability and whether and how the same results may be achieved at scale.
Editors' Summary
In 2010, 8.8 million people developed active tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial infection—and 1.4 million people died from the disease. Most of these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries and a quarter were in HIV-positive individuals—people who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are particularly susceptible to tuberculosis because of their weakened immune system. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Its characteristic symptoms are a persistent cough, unintentional weight loss, hemoptysis (coughing up blood from the lungs), fever, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for tuberculosis include sputum smear microscopy (microscopic analysis of mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing) and culture (growth) of M. tuberculosis from sputum samples. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics daily for at least 6 months.
Why Was This Study Done?
To improve tuberculosis control, active disease must be diagnosed quickly and treated immediately. Passive tuberculosis case finding, which relies on people seeking medical help because they feel unwell, delays the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis and increases M. tuberculosis transmission. By contrast, active tuberculosis case finding—where health workers seek out and diagnose individuals with TB who have not sought care on their own initiative—has the potential to reduce tuberculosis transmission by improving case detection. The World Health Organization (WHO), which already recommends active tuberculosis case finding in HIV-infected individuals as part of its HIV/TB “Three I's” strategy, is currently developing guidelines to inform the design of national tuberculosis screening strategies based on the local prevalence of HIV and TB and other context-specific factors that affect how many individuals need to be screened to identify each additional new tuberculosis case (the “yield” of active case finding). Large gaps in our knowledge about mass-screening strategies are complicating the development of these guidelines so, in this observational prospective study, the researchers assess the feasibility, uptake, yield, treatment outcomes, and costs of adding an active tuberculosis case-finding program to an existing mobile HIV testing service in South Africa.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
All HIVnegative adults with symptoms characteristic of tuberculosis and all HIV-positive adults regardless of symptoms who attended a mobile HIV testing service operating in deprived communities in ape Town, South Africa between May 2009 and February 2011 were eligible for inclusion in the study. Of the 6,309 adults who accessed the mobile clinic during this period, 1,385 met these eligibility criteria, and 1,130 were enrolled and referred for the collection of sputum samples, which were analyzed by microscopy and culture. The prevalence of smear-positive tuberculosis was 2.2%, 3.3%, and 0.4% among HIV-negative study participants, newly diagnosed HIV-positive participants, and people already known to have HIV, respectively. The corresponding prevalences for smear-negative/culture-positive tuberculosis were 5.3%, 7.4%, and 4.3%, respectively (culture detects more tuberculosis cases than microscopy but, whereas microscopy can provide a result within 1–2 days, culture can take several weeks). Fifty-six new tuberculosis cases were identified, 42 people started tuberculosis treatment, and 34 completed treatment (a treatment success rate of 81%). Finally, the incremental cost of the intervention was US$1,117 per tuberculosis case detected and US$2,458 per tuberculosis case cured.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that active case finding for tuberculosis delivered through a mobile HIV testing service is feasible and has a high uptake, yield and treatment success in deprived communities with a high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis. The findings also highlight the challenges faced by mobile population-based services such as losses between tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, which were greatest for smear-negative/culture-positive people who were more difficult to contact than smear-positive people because of the greater time lag between sputum collection and diagnosis. Because the study was done in a single city, these findings need to be confirmed in other settings—the yield of active tuberculosis case finding reported here, for example, is not likely to be generalizable to countries that rely on sputum smears for tuberculosis diagnosis. Finally, given that the incremental cost per case treated in this study is 3-fold higher than the incremental cost per case treated under passive case detection in South Africa, further studies are needed to determine the cost-effectiveness and affordability of population-based tuberculosis screening.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including information on tuberculosis and HIV, and on the Three I?s for HIV/TB (some information is in several languages); details of a 2011 meeting on the development of guidelines on screening for active tuberculosis are available
The Stop TB partnership is working towards tuberculosis elimination; patient stories about tuberculosis/HIV coinfection are available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, about tuberculosis and HIV co-infection, and about the diagnosis of tuberculosis disease
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
The Tuberculosis Survival Project, which aims to raise awareness of tuberculosis and provide support for people with tuberculosis, provides personal stories about treatment for tuberculosis; the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative also provides personal stories about dealing with tuberculosis
PMCID: PMC3413719  PMID: 22879816
10.  Distribution of Human Papillomavirus Genotypes among HIV-Positive and HIV-Negative Women in Cape Town, South Africa 
Objective: HIV-positive women are known to be at high-risk of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and its associated cervical pathology. Here, we describe the prevalence and distribution of HPV genotypes among HIV-positive and -negative women in South Africa, with and without cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).
Methods: We report data on 1,371 HIV-positive women and 8,050 HIV-negative women, aged 17–65 years, recruited into three sequential studies in Cape Town, South Africa, conducted among women who had no history of cervical cancer screening recruited from the general population. All women were tested for HIV. Cervical samples were tested for high-risk HPV DNA (Hybrid Capture 2) with positive samples tested to determine the specific genotype (Line Blot). CIN status was determined based on colposcopy and biopsy.
Results: The HPV prevalence was higher among HIV-positive women (52.4%) than among HIV-negative women (20.8%) overall and in all age groups. Younger women, aged 17–19 years, had the highest HPV prevalence regardless of HIV status. HIV-positive women were more likely to have CIN 2 or 3 than HIV-negative women. HPV 16, 35, and 58 were the most common high-risk HPV types with no major differences in the type distribution by HIV status. HPV 18 was more common in older HIV-positive women (40–65 years) with no or low grade disease, but less common in younger women (17–29 years) with CIN 2 or 3 compared to HIV-negative counterparts (p < 0.03). Infections with multiple high-risk HPV types were more common in HIV-positive than HIV-negative women, controlling for age and cervical disease status.
Conclusion: HIV-positive women were more likely to have high-risk HPV than HIV-negative women; but, among those with HPV, the distribution of HPV types was similar by HIV status. Screening strategies incorporating HPV genotyping and vaccination should be effective in preventing cervical cancer in both HIV-positive and -negative women living in sub-Saharan Africa.
PMCID: PMC3953716  PMID: 24672770
HIV-infections; HPV; genotype; HPV vaccine; cervical cancer screening
11.  HIV and pre-neoplastic and neoplastic lesions of the cervix in South Africa: a case-control study 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:135.
Cervical cancer and infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are both major public health problems in South Africa. The aim of this study was to determine the risk of cervical pre-cancer and cancer among HIV positive women in South Africa.
Data were derived from a case-control study that examined the association between hormonal contraceptives and invasive cervical cancer. The study was conducted in the Western Cape (South Africa), from January 1998 to December 2001. There were 486 women with invasive cervical cancer, 103 control women with atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS), 53 with low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL), 50 with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) and 1159 with normal cytology. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using multiple logistic regression.
The adjusted odds ratios associated with HIV infection were: 4.4 [95% CI (2.3 – 8.4) for ASCUS, 7.4 (3.5 – 15.7) for LSIL, 5.8 (2.4 – 13.6) for HSIL and 1.17 (0.75 – 1.85) for invasive cervical cancer. HIV positive women were nearly 5 times more likely to have high-risk human papillomavirus infection (HR-HPV) present compared to HIV negative women [OR 4.6 (95 % CI 2.8 – 7.5)]. Women infected with both HIV and high-risk HPV had a more than 40 fold higher risk of SIL than women infected with neither of these viruses.
HIV positive women were at an increased risk of cervical pre-cancer, but did not demonstrate an excess risk of invasive cervical cancer. An interaction between HIV and HR-HPV infection was demonstrated. Our findings underscore the importance of developing locally relevant screening and management guidelines for HIV positive women in South Africa.
PMCID: PMC1481580  PMID: 16719902
12.  Ethnic differences in alcohol and drug use and related sexual risks for HIV among vulnerable women in Cape Town, South Africa: implications for interventions 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:174.
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use among poor Black African and Coloured women in South Africa compounds their sexual risk for HIV. Given South Africa’s history of ethnic disparities, ethnic differences in sex risk profiles may exist that should be taken into account when planning HIV risk reduction interventions. This paper aims to describe ethnic differences in AOD use and AOD-related sexual risks for HIV among vulnerable women from Cape Town, South Africa.
Cross-sectional data on 720 AOD-using women (324 Black African; 396 Coloured) recruited from poor communities in Cape Town were examined for ethnic differences in AOD use and AOD-related sexual risk behavior.
Ethnic differences in patterns of AOD use were found; with self-reported drug problems, heavy episodic drinking and methamphetamine use being most prevalent among Coloured women and cannabis use being most likely among Black African women. However, more than half of Black African women reported drug-related problems and more than a third tested positive for recent methamphetamine use. More than a third of women reported being AOD-impaired and having unprotected sex during their last sexual encounter. Coloured women had four-fold greater odds of reporting that their last sexual episode was AOD-impaired and unprotected than Black African women. In addition, close to one in two women reported that their sexual partner was AOD-impaired at last sex, with Coloured women having three-fold greater odds of reporting that their partner was AOD-impaired at last sex than Black African women.
Findings support the need to develop and test AOD risk reduction interventions for women from both ethnic groups. In addition, findings point to the need for tailored interventions that target the distinct profiles of AOD use and AOD-related sex risks for HIV among Black African and Coloured women.
PMCID: PMC3598514  PMID: 23442318
Ethnic differences; Alcohol and other drugs; Sexual risks; Women; South Africa
13.  Comparison of point-of-care versus laboratory-based CD4 cell enumeration in HIV-positive pregnant women 
Early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in eligible pregnant women is a key intervention for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. However, in many settings in sub-Saharan Africa where ART-eligibility is determined by CD4 cell counts, limited access to laboratories presents a significant barrier to rapid ART initiation. Point-of-care (POC) CD4 cell count testing has been suggested as one approach to overcome this challenge, but there are few data on the agreement between POC CD4 cell enumeration and standard laboratory-based testing.
Working in a large antenatal clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, we compared POC CD4 cell enumeration (using the Alere PimaTM Analyzer) to laboratory-based flow cytometry in consecutive HIV-positive pregnant women. Bland–Altman methods were used to compare the two methods, including analyses by subgroups of participant gestational age.
Among the 521 women participating, the median gestational age was 23 weeks, and the median CD4 cell count according to POC and laboratory-based methods was 388 and 402 cells/µL, respectively. On average, the Pima POC test underestimated CD4 cell count relative to flow cytometry: the mean difference (laboratory test minus Pima POC) was 22.7 cells/µL (95% CI, 16.1 to 29.2), and the limits of agreement were −129.2 to 174.6 cells/µL. When analysed by gestational age categories, there was a trend towards increasing differences between laboratory and POC testing with increasing gestational age; in women more than 36 weeks’ gestation, the mean difference was 45.0 cells/µL (p=0.04).
These data suggest reasonable overall agreement between Pima POC CD4 testing and laboratory-based flow cytometry among HIV-positive pregnant women. The finding for decreasing agreement with increasing gestational age requires further investigation, as does the operational role of POC CD4 testing to increase access to ART within PMTCT programmes.
PMCID: PMC3776301  PMID: 24044627
point-of-care test; CD4 cell count; reliability; pregnancy; HIV; antiretroviral therapy; South Africa
14.  Distribution of High-Risk Human Papillomavirus Genotypes among HIV-Negative Women with and without Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia in South Africa 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44332.
Large studies describing the profile of high-risk Human papillomavirus (hrHPV) genotypes among women in sub-Saharan Africa are lacking. Here we describe the prevalence and distribution of hrHPV genotypes among HIV-negative women in South Africa, with and without cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).
We report data on 8,050 HIV-negative women, aged 17–65 years, recruited into three sequential studies undertaken in Cape Town, South Africa. Women had no history of previous cervical cancer screening. Cervical samples were tested for hrHPV DNA using the Hybrid Capture 2 (HC2) assay and all positive samples were genotyped using a PCR-based assay (Line Blot). Women underwent colposcopy and biopsy/endocervical curettage to determine CIN status. The prevalence and distribution of specific hrHPV genotypes were examined by age and CIN status.
Overall, 20.7% (95% CI, 19.9–21.6%) of women were hrHPV-positive by HC2, with women with CIN having the highest rates of positivity. Prevalence decreased with increasing age among women without CIN; but, a bimodal age curve was observed among women with CIN. HPV 16 and 35 were the most common hrHPV genotypes in all age and CIN groups. HPV 45 became more frequent among older women with CIN grade 2 or 3 (CIN2,3). Younger women (17–29 years) had more multiple hrHPV genotypes overall and in each cervical disease group than older women (40–65 years).
HPV 16, 35, and 45 were the leading contributors to CIN 2,3. The current HPV vaccines could significantly reduce HPV-related cervical disease; however, next generation vaccines that include HPV 35 and 45 would further reduce cervical disease in this population.
PMCID: PMC3435398  PMID: 22970201
15.  Impact of HealthWise South Africa on polydrug use and high-risk sexual behavior 
Health Education Research  2011;26(4):653-663.
This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of the HealthWise South Africa HIV and substance abuse prevention program at impacting adolescents’ polydrug use and sexual risk behaviors. HealthWise is a school-based intervention designed to promote social-emotional skills, increase knowledge and refusal skills relevant to substance use and sexual behaviors, and encourage healthy free time activities. Four intervention schools in one township near Cape Town, South Africa were matched to five comparison schools (N = 4040). The sample included equal numbers of male and female participants (Mean age = 14.0). Multiple regression was used to assess the impact of HealthWise on the outcomes of interest. Findings suggest that among virgins at baseline (beginning of eighth grade) who had sex by Wave 5 (beginning of 10th grade), HealthWise youth were less likely than comparison youth to engage in two or more risk behaviors at last sex. Additionally, HealthWise was effective at slowing the onset of frequent polydrug use among non-users at baseline and slowing the increase in this outcome among all participants. Program effects were not found for lifetime sexual activity, condomless sex refusal and past-month polydrug use. These findings suggest that HealthWise is a promising approach to HIV and substance abuse prevention.
PMCID: PMC3139488  PMID: 21511818
16.  Gender-based Violence and HIV Sexual Risk Behavior: Alcohol Use and Mental Health Problems as Mediators among Women in Drinking Venues, Cape Town 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2012;75(8):1417-1425.
Gender-based violence is a key determinant of HIV infection among women in South Africa as elsewhere. However, research has not examined potential mediating processes to explain the link between experiencing abuse and engaging in HIV sexual risk behavior. Previous studies suggest that alcohol use and mental health problems may explain how gender-based violence predicts sexual risk. In a prospective study, we examined whether lifetime history of gender-based violence indirectly affects future sexual risk behavior through alcohol use, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a high-risk socio-environmental context. We recruited a cohort of 560 women from alcohol drinking venues in a Cape Town, South African township. Participants completed computerized interviews at baseline and 4 months later. We tested prospective mediating associations between gender-based violence, alcohol use, depression, PTSD, and sexual risk behavior. There was a significant indirect effect of gender-based violence on sexual risk behavior through alcohol use, but not mental health problems. Women who were physically and sexually abused drank more, which in turn predicted more unprotected sex. We did not find a mediated relationship between alcohol use and sexual risk behavior through the experience of recent abuse or mental health problems. Alcohol use explains the link between gender-based violence and sexual risk behavior among women attending drinking venues in Cape Town, South Africa. Efforts to reduce HIV risk in South Africa by addressing gender-based violence must also address alcohol use.
PMCID: PMC3425436  PMID: 22832324
South Africa; gender-based violence; HIV; HIV risk; sexual risk; alcohol use; mental health; mediation; women
17.  Perceived need for substance use treatment among young women from disadvantaged communities in Cape Town, South Africa 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14:100.
Initiation of treatment for substance use disorders is low among young women from disadvantaged communities in Cape Town, South Africa. Yet little is known about the factors that influence perceived need for treatment (a determinant of treatment entry) within this population.
Baseline data on 720 young, drug-using women, collected as part of a randomized field experiment were analyzed to identify predisposing, enabling and health need factors associated with perceived need for treatment.
Overall, 46.0% of our sample perceived a need for treatment. Of these participants, 92.4% wanted treatment for their substance use problems but only 50.1% knew where to access services. In multivariable logistic regression analyses, we found significant main effects for ethnicity (AOR = 1.54, 95% CI = 1.05-1.65), income (AOR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.93-0.99), anxiety (AOR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.05-1.45), and not having family members with drug problems (AOR = 1.45, 95% CI = 1.05-2.04) on perceived need for treatment. When the sample was stratified by methamphetamine use, income (AOR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.79-0.96), awareness of treatment services (AOR =1.84, 95% CI = 1.03-3.27), anxiety (AOR =1.41, 95% CI = 1.06-1.87) and physical health status (AOR = 6.29, 95% CI = 1.56-25.64) were significantly associated with perceived need for treatment among those who were methamphetamine-negative. No variables were significantly associated with perceived need for treatment among participants who were methamphetamine-positive.
A sizeable proportion of young women who could benefit from substance use treatment do not believe they need treatment, highlighting the need for interventions that enhance perceived need for treatment in this population. Findings also show that interventions that link women who perceive a need for treatment to service providers are needed. Such interventions should address barriers that limit young women’s use of services for substance use disorders.
PMCID: PMC3977683
Perceived need for drug treatment; Mental health; Women; South Africa; Methamphetamine
18.  Systemic delays in the initiation of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy do not improve outcomes of HIV-positive mothers: a cohort study 
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation in eligible HIV-infected pregnant women is an important intervention to promote maternal and child health. Increasing the duration of ART received before delivery plays a major role in preventing vertical HIV transmission, but pregnant women across Africa experience significant delays in starting ART, partly due the perceived need to deliver ART counseling and patient education before ART initiation. We examined whether delaying ART to provide pre-ART counseling was associated with improved outcomes among HIV-infected women in Cape Town, South Africa.
We undertook a retrospective cohort study of 490 HIV-infected pregnant women referred to initiate treatment at an urban ART clinic. At this clinic all patients including pregnant women are screened by a clinician and then undergo three sessions of counseling and patient education prior to starting treatment, commonly introducing delays of 2–4 weeks before ART initiation. Data on viral suppression and retention in care after ART initiation were taken from routine clinic records.
A total of 382 women initiated ART before delivery (78%); ART initiation before delivery was associated with earlier gestational age at presentation to the ART service (p < 0.001). The median delay between screening and ART initiation was 21 days (IQR, 14–29 days). Overall, 84.7%, 79.6% and 75.0% of women who were pregnant at the time of ART initiation were retained in care at 4, 8 and 12 months after ART initiation, respectively. Among those retained, 91% were virally suppressed at each follow-up visit. However the delay from screening to ART initiation was not associated with retention in care and/or viral suppression throughout the first year on ART in unadjusted or adjusted analyses.
A substantial proportion of eligible pregnant women referred for ART do not begin treatment before delivery in this setting. Among women who do initiate ART, delaying initiation for patient preparation is not associated with improved maternal outcomes. Given the need to maximize the duration of ART before delivery for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, there is an urgent need for new strategies to help expedite ART initiation in eligible pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC3490939  PMID: 22963318
Antiretroviral therapy; Pregnancy; Patient preparation; Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT); HIV/AIDS; South Africa
19.  A brief intervention for drug use, sexual risk behaviours and violence prevention with vulnerable women in South Africa: a randomised trial of the Women’s Health CoOp 
BMJ Open  2013;3(5):e002622.
To assess the impact of the Women's Health CoOp (WHC) on drug abstinence among vulnerable women having HIV counselling and testing (HCT).
Randomised trial conducted with multiple follow-ups.
15 communities in Cape Town, South Africa.
720 drug-using women aged 18–33, randomised to an intervention (360) or one of two control arms (181 and 179) with 91.9% retained at follow-up.
The WHC brief peer-facilitated intervention consisted of four modules (two sessions), 2 h addressing knowledge and skills to reduce drug use, sex risk and violence; and included role-playing and rehearsal, an equal attention nutrition intervention, and an HCT-only control.
Primary outcome measures
Biologically confirmed drug abstinence measured at 12-month follow-up, sober at last sex act, condom use with main and casual sex partners, and intimate partner violence.
At the 12-month endpoint, 26.9% (n=83/309) of the women in the WHC arm were abstinent from drugs, compared with 16.9% (n=27/160) in the Nutrition arm and 20% (n=31/155) in the HCT-only control arm. In the random effects model, this translated to an effect size on the log odds scale with an OR of 1.54 (95% CI 1.07 to 2.22) comparing the WHC arm with the combined control arms. Other 12-month comparison measures between arms were non-significant for sex risk and victimisation outcomes. At 6-month follow-up, women in the WHC arm (65.9%, 197/299) were more likely to be sober at the last sex act (OR1.32 (95% CI 1.02 to 1.84)) than women in the Nutrition arm (54.3%, n=82/152).
This is the first trial among drug-using women in South Africa showing that a brief intervention added to HCT results in greater abstinence from drug use at 12 months and a larger percentage of sexual activity not under the influence of substances.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3657672  PMID: 23793683
Public Health
20.  Will an Unsupervised Self-Testing Strategy for HIV Work in Health Care Workers of South Africa? A Cross Sectional Pilot Feasibility Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79772.
In South Africa, stigma, discrimination, social visibility and fear of loss of confidentiality impede health facility-based HIV testing. With 50% of adults having ever tested for HIV in their lifetime, private, alternative testing options are urgently needed. Non-invasive, oral self-tests offer a potential for a confidential, unsupervised HIV self-testing option, but global data are limited.
A pilot cross-sectional study was conducted from January to June 2012 in health care workers based at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. An innovative, unsupervised, self-testing strategy was evaluated for feasibility; defined as completion of self-testing process (i.e., self test conduct, interpretation and linkage). An oral point-of-care HIV test, an Internet and paper-based self-test HIV applications, and mobile phones were synergized to create an unsupervised strategy. Self-tests were additionally confirmed with rapid tests on site and laboratory tests. Of 270 health care workers (18 years and above, of unknown HIV status approached), 251 consented for participation.
Overall, about 91% participants rated a positive experience with the strategy. Of 251 participants, 126 evaluated the Internet and 125 the paper-based application successfully; completion rate of 99.2%. All sero-positives were linked to treatment (completion rate:100% (95% CI, 66.0–100). About half of sero-negatives were offered counselling on mobile phones; completion rate: 44.6% (95% CI, 38.0–51.0). A majority of participants (78.1%) were females, aged 18–24 years (61.4%). Nine participants were found sero-positive after confirmatory tests (prevalence 3.6% 95% CI, 1.8–6.9). Six of nine positive self-tests were accurately interpreted; sensitivity: 66.7% (95% CI, 30.9–91.0); specificity:100% (95% CI, 98.1–100).
Our unsupervised self-testing strategy was feasible to operationalize in health care workers in South Africa. Linkages were successfully operationalized with mobile phones in all sero-positives and about half of the sero-negatives sought post-test counselling. Controlled trials and implementation research studies are needed before a scale-up is considered.
PMCID: PMC3842310  PMID: 24312185
21.  The Relationship of Alcohol and Other Drug Use Typologies to Sex Risk Behaviors among Vulnerable Women in Cape Town, South Africa 
Journal of AIDS & clinical research  2012;Suppl 1(15):015.
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use remains an important contributing factor to the spread of HIV in South Africa, mainly because of the strong associations found between AOD use and sex risk behaviors. Specifically, AOD use can lead to disinhibition and impaired judgment that may result in inconsistent condom use and other risky sex behaviors among vulnerable and disempowered women.
Latent Class Analysis was used to identify AOD use typologies among 720 vulnerable women from a randomized trial baseline assessment in Cape Town, South Africa and to examine whether these AOD use classes predict sex risk for HIV.
Three classes emerged with distinct differences in AOD use: the Marijuana and Alcohol class (34.6%) mainly comprised participants who used marijuana and drank alcohol frequently; the High AOD Risk class (26.1%) mainly comprised participants who used methamphetamine and marijuana, reported heavy drinking, and moderate probabilities of Mandrax use; and the Polydrug use class (39.3%) predominately comprised participants who used methamphetamine, marijuana, and Mandrax. Participants in the Marijuana and Alcohol class were less likely to report past-month unprotected sex with their main sex partner compared with participants in the Polydrug Use class. When examining the adjusted model, Black African women were significantly less likely to report past-month unprotected sex with their main sex partner compared with Coloured women. Women who were HIV negative were more likely to report unprotected sex with their main sex partner than women who were HIV positive.
The fewer substances that women used seemed to serve as protective factors against engaging in AOD-impaired sex. This study provides an important contribution to understand the intersection of AOD use and sexual risk for HIV by measuring polydrug use among vulnerable women and its association with sexual risk taking.
PMCID: PMC3568528  PMID: 23403403
Alcohol and other drug use; Women; Sex risk; Latent class analysis; South Africa
22.  Integration of Antiretroviral Therapy Services into Antenatal Care Increases Treatment Initiation during Pregnancy: A Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63328.
Initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) during pregnancy is critical to promote maternal health and prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT). The separation of services for antenatal care (ANC) and ART may hinder antenatal ART initiation. We evaluated ART initiation during pregnancy under different service delivery models in Cape Town, South Africa.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted using routinely collected clinic data. Three models for ART initiation in pregnancy were evaluated ART ‘integrated’ into ANC, ART located ‘proximal’ to ANC, and ART located some distance away from ANC (‘distal’). Kaplan-Meier methods and Poisson regression were used to examine the association between service delivery model and antenatal ART initiation.
Among 14 617 women seeking antenatal care in the three services, 30% were HIV-infected and 17% were eligible for ART based on CD4 cell count <200 cells/µL. A higher proportion of women started ART antenatally in the integrated model compared to the proximal or distal models (55% vs 38% vs 45%, respectively, global p = 0.003). After adjusting for age and gestation at first ANC visit, women who at the integrated service were significantly more likely to initiate ART antenatally (rate ratio 1.33; 95% confidence interval: 1.09–1.64) compared to women attending the distal model; there was no difference between the proximal and distal models in antenatal ART initiation however (p = 0.704).
Integration of ART initiation into ANC is associated with higher levels of ART initiation in pregnancy. This and other forms of service integration may represent a valuable intervention to enhance PMTCT and maternal health.
PMCID: PMC3656005  PMID: 23696814
23.  Stress, Substance Use and Sexual Risk Behaviors among Primary Care Patients in Cape Town, South Africa 
AIDS and behavior  2009;14(2):359-370.
We assessed the relationship between stress, substance use and sexual risk behaviors in a primary care population in Cape Town, South Africa. A random sample of participants (and over-sampled 18–24 year olds) from 14 of the 49 clinics in Cape Town's public health sector using stratified random sampling (N=2,618), was selected. We evaluated current hazardous drug and alcohol use and three domains of stressors (Personal Threats, Lacking Basic Needs, and Interpersonal Problems). Several personal threat stressors and an interpersonal problem stressor were related to sexual risk behaviors. With stressors included in the model, hazardous alcohol use, but not hazardous drug use, was related to higher rates of sexual risk behaviors. Our findings suggest a positive screening for hazardous alcohol use should alert providers about possible sexual risk behaviors and vice versa. Additionally, it is important to address a broad scope of social problems and incorporate stress and substance use in HIV prevention campaigns.
PMCID: PMC2835823  PMID: 19205865
substance use; alcohol use; drug use; ASSIST; sexual risk behaviors; stressors
24.  Drinking before and after pregnancy recognition among South African women: the moderating role of traumatic experiences 
South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and interpersonal trauma. These co-occurring public health problems raise the need to understand alcohol consumption among trauma-exposed pregnant women in this setting. Since a known predictor of drinking during pregnancy is drinking behavior before pregnancy, this study explored the relationship between women’s drinking levels before and after pregnancy recognition, and whether traumatic experiences – childhood abuse or recent intimate partner violence (IPV) – moderated this relationship.
Women with incident pregnancies (N = 66) were identified from a longitudinal cohort of 560 female drinkers in a township of Cape Town, South Africa. Participants were included if they reported no pregnancy at one assessment and then reported pregnancy four months later at the next assessment. Alcohol use was measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and traumatic experiences of childhood abuse and recent IPV were also assessed. Hierarchical linear regressions controlling for race and age examined childhood abuse and recent IPV as moderators of the effect of pre-pregnancy recognition drinking on post-pregnancy recognition AUDIT scores.
Following pregnancy recognition, 73% of women reported drinking at hazardous levels (AUDIT ≥ 8). Sixty-four percent reported early and/or recent exposure to trauma. While drinking levels before pregnancy significantly predicted drinking levels after pregnancy recognition, t(64) = 3.50, p < .01, this relationship was moderated by experiences of childhood abuse, B = -.577, t(60) = -2.58, p = .01, and recent IPV, B = -.477, t(60) = -2.16, p = .04. Pregnant women without traumatic experiences reported drinking at levels consistent with levels before pregnancy recognition. However, women with traumatic experiences tended to report elevated AUDIT scores following pregnancy recognition, even if low-risk drinkers previously.
This study explored how female drinkers in South Africa may differentially modulate their drinking patterns upon pregnancy recognition, depending on trauma history. Our results suggest that women with traumatic experiences are more likely to exhibit risky alcohol consumption when they become pregnant, regardless of prior risk. These findings illuminate the relevance of trauma-informed efforts to reduce FASD in South Africa.
PMCID: PMC3975846  PMID: 24593175
South Africa; Pregnancy; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Drinking; Trauma; Childhood abuse; Intimate partner violence
25.  Maternal post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and alcohol dependence and child behaviour outcomes in mother–child dyads infected with HIV: a longitudinal study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(12):e003638.
HIV and psychiatric disorders are prevalent and often concurrent. Childbearing women are at an increased risk for both HIV and psychiatric disorders, specifically depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Poor mental health in the peripartum period has adverse effects on infant development and behaviour. Few studies have investigated the relationship between maternal PTSD and child behaviour outcomes in an HIV vertically infected sample. The aim of this study was to investigate whether maternal postpartum trauma exposure and PTSD were risk factors for child behaviour problems. In addition, maternal depression, alcohol abuse and functional disability were explored as cofactors.
The study was conducted in Cape Town, South Africa.
70 mother–child dyads infected with HIV were selected from a group of participants recruited from community health centres.
The study followed a longitudinal design. Five measures were used to assess maternal trauma exposure, PTSD, depression, alcohol abuse and functional disability at 12 months postpartum: Life Events Checklist (LEC), Harvard Trauma Scale (HTS), Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CESD) Scale and the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS). Child behaviour was assessed at 42 months with the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL).
The rate of maternal disorder was high with 50% scoring above the cut-off for depression, 22.9% for PTSD and 7% for alcohol abuse. Half of the children scored within the clinical range for problematic behaviour. Children of mothers with depression were significantly more likely to display total behaviour problems than children of mothers without depression. Maternal PTSD had the greatest explanatory power for child behaviour problems, although it did not significantly predict child outcomes.
This study highlights the importance of identifying and managing maternal PTSD and depression in mothers of children infected with HIV. The relationship between maternal PTSD and child behaviour warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3863126  PMID: 24334155
Maternal mental health; Child behaviour and development; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Depression; Alcohol abuse; HIV/AIDS

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