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1.  HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C prevalence and associated risk behaviors among female sex workers in three Afghan cities 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(0 2):S69-S75.
Objective
To assess prevalence of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B (HBV) and C virus and associated risk behaviors among female sex workers (FSWs) in three Afghan cities. Design: Cross-sectional prevalence assessment.
Methods
Consented FSWs from Jalalabad, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire, pre and post-test counseling, and rapid and confirmatory testing for HIV, HCV, HBV and syphilis. Logistic regression was used to detect correlates associated with HBV infection.
Results
Of 520 participants, median age and age of initiating sex work were 29 and 23 years, respectively, and median number of monthly clients was 12. Few FSWs reported ever having used illicit drugs (6.9%) or alcohol (4.7%). Demographic and risk behaviors varied significantly by enrollment site, with Kabul FSWs more likely to report sexually-transmitted infection (STI) symptoms, longer sex work duration, and sex work in other cities. Prevalence of HIV was 0.19%, HCV was 1.92%, and HBV was 6.54%, with no cases of syphilis detected. HBV was independently associated with ≥12 clients monthly (AOR=3.15, 95% CI: 1.38 – 7.17), ever using alcohol (AOR=2.61, 95% CI: 1.45 – 4.69), anal sex (AOR=2.42, 95% CI: 1.15 – 5.08), and having children (AOR=2.12, 95% CI: 1.72 – 2.63) in site-controlled multivariate analysis.
Conclusions
While prevalence of HIV, HCV, and syphilis is currently low in these three Afghan cities, risky sexual practices were common and associated with HBV. Programming inclusive of voluntary testing for HIV, viral hepatitis, and STIs, hepatitis vaccination, substance abuse prevention, and condom promotion for both FSWs and clients should be pursued in Afghanistan.
doi:10.1097/01.aids.0000386736.25296.8d
PMCID: PMC3650731  PMID: 20610952
HIV; hepatitis B; female sex worker; Afghanistan
2.  Seroprevalence and correlates of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B and C virus among intrapartum patients in Kabul, Afghanistan 
Background
Little current information is available for prevalence of vertically-transmitted infections among the Afghan population. The purpose of this study is to determine prevalence and correlates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis, and hepatitis B and C infection among obstetric patients and model hepatitis B vaccination approaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted at three government maternity hospitals in Kabul, Afghanistan from June through September, 2006. Consecutively-enrolled participants completed an interviewer-administered survey and whole blood rapid testing with serum confirmation for antibodies to HIV, T. pallidum, and HCV, and HBsAg. Descriptive data and prevalence of infection were calculated, with logistic regression used to identify correlates of HBV infection. Modeling was performed to determine impact of current and birth dose vaccination strategies on HBV morbidity and mortality.
Results
Among 4452 women, prevalence of HBsAg was 1.53% (95% CI: 1.18 – 1.94) and anti-HCV was 0.31% (95% CI: 0.17 – 0.53). No cases of HIV or syphilis were detected. In univariate analysis, HBsAg was associated with husband's level of education (OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.01 – 1.26). Modeling indicated that introduction of birth dose vaccination would not significantly reduce hepatitis-related morbidity or mortality for the measured HBsAg prevalence.
Conclusion
Intrapartum whole blood rapid testing for HIV, syphilis, HBV, and HCV was acceptable to patients in Afghanistan. Though HBsAg prevalence is relatively low, periodic assessments should be performed to determine birth dose vaccination recommendations for this setting.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-119
PMCID: PMC2557011  PMID: 18798996
3.  Prevalence and correlates of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B and C infection and harm reduction program use among male injecting drug users in Kabul, Afghanistan: A cross-sectional assessment 
Background
A nascent HIV epidemic and high prevalence of risky drug practices were detected among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2005-2006. We assessed prevalence of HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), syphilis, and needle and syringe program (NSP) use among this population.
Methods
IDUs were recruited between June, 2007 and March, 2009 and completed questionnaires and rapid testing for HIV, HCV, HBsAg, and syphilis; positive samples received confirmatory testing. Logistic regression was used to identify correlates of HIV, HCV, and current NSP use.
Results
Of 483 participants, all were male and median age, age at first injection, and duration of injection were 28, 24, and 2.0 years, respectively. One-fifth (23.0%) had initiated injecting within the last year. Reported risky injecting practices included ever sharing needles/syringes (16.9%) or other injecting equipment (38.4%). Prevalence of HIV, HCV Ab, HBSAg, and syphilis was 2.1% (95% CI: 1.0-3.8), 36.1% (95% CI: 31.8-40.4), 4.6% (95% CI: 2.9-6.9), and 1.2% (95% CI: 0.5-2.7), respectively. HIV and HCV infection were both independently associated with sharing needles/syringes (AOR = 5.96, 95% CI: 1.58 - 22.38 and AOR = 2.33, 95% CI: 1.38 - 3.95, respectively). Approximately half (53.8%) of the participants were using NSP services at time of enrollment and 51.3% reported receiving syringes from NSPs in the last three months. Current NSP use was associated with initiating drug use with injecting (AOR = 2.58, 95% CI: 1.22 - 5.44), sharing injecting equipment in the last three months (AOR = 1.79, 95% CI: 1.16 - 2.77), prior incarceration (AOR = 1.57, 95% CI: 1.06 - 2.32), and greater daily frequency of injecting (AOR = 1.40 injections daily, 95% CI: 1.08 - 1.82).
Conclusions
HIV and HCV prevalence appear stable among Kabul IDUs, though the substantial number having recently initiated injecting raises concern that transmission risk may increase over time. Harm reduction programming appears to be reaching high-risk drug user populations; however, monitoring is warranted to determine efficacy of prevention programming in this dynamic environment.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-8-22
PMCID: PMC3180253  PMID: 21867518
injection drug user; Afghanistan; HIV; hepatitis C; harm reduction
4.  Prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and factors associated with syphilis among female sex workers in Panama 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2012;89(2):156-164.
Objectives
Biological and behavioural surveillance of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among populations at highest risk have been used to monitor trends in prevalence and in risk behaviours. Sex work in Panama is regulated through registration with the Social Hygiene Programme, Ministry of Health. We estimated prevalence of HIV and STIs, and factors associated with active syphilis among female sex workers (FSWs).
Methods
A cross-sectional study using venue-based, time-space sampling was conducted among FSWs in Panama from 2009 to 2010. FSWs were interviewed about sociodemographic characteristics, sexual risk behaviour, health history and drug use using an anonymous structured questionnaire. Blood was collected for serological testing of HIV and other STIs. Factors associated with active syphilis were studied using logistic regression analysis.
Results
The overall HIV-1 prevalence of 0.7% varied by FSW category; 1.6% in 379 unregistered, and 0.2% in 620 registered FSWs. Overall prevalence (and 95% CI) of STIs were: syphilis antibody, 3.8% (2.7% to 5.2%); herpes simplex virus type 2 antibody (anti-HSV-2), 74.2% (71.4% to 76.9%); hepatitis B surface antigen, 0.6% (0.2% to 1.3%); hepatitis B core antibody, 8.7% (7.0% to 10.6%); and hepatitis C antibody, 0.2% (0.0% to 0.7%). In multivariate analysis, registration (adjusted OR (AOR)=0.35; 95% CI 0.16 to 0.74), having a history of STI (AOR=2.37; 95% CI 1.01 to 5.58), forced sex (AOR=2.47; 95% CI 1.11 to 5.48), and anti-HSV-2 (AOR=10.05; 95% CI 1.36 to 74.38) were associated with active syphilis.
Conclusions
Although HIV prevalence is low among FSWs in Panama, unregistered FSWs bear a higher burden of HIV and STIs than registered FSWs. Programmes aimed at overcoming obstacles to registration, and HIV, STI and harm reduction among unregistered FSWs is warranted to prevent HIV transmission, and to improve their sexual and reproductive health.
doi:10.1136/sextrans-2012-050557
PMCID: PMC3595153  PMID: 23002191
Surveillance; Commercial Sex; HIV; Seroprevalence; Syphilis
5.  Syndemics of syphilis, HCV infection, and methamphetamine use along the east coast of China 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:172.
Background
An upsurge in club drug use has been observed in recent years in some cities of China, especially methamphetamine, which is quickly replacing heroin to become the most widespread drug across the nation. This study investigated the type of drugs used, syphilis and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and the correlates for syphilis, HCV and unprotected commercial sex behavior among drug users in two cities along the east coast of China.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey conducted in 2010 provided demographics, sexual and drug use behaviors, HIV knowledge and the utilization of intervention services among drug users. Blood samples were tested for HIV, syphilis, and HCV infection.
Results
Of 805 eligible participants, 0.2% were infected with HIV, 3.7% with HCV, and 9.6% with syphilis. Of the participants, 96.6% were methamphetamine users, 11.9% reported ever having used ≥2 types of these drugs, and 11.4% reported ever injecting drugs. In the multivariable logistic regression analysis, participants infected with syphilis were more likely to be female (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=2.8, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2-6.5), have ever had commercial sex in the past 12 months (AOR=2.0, 95% CI: 1.0-3.9), be infected with HCV (AOR=12.1, 95% CI: 4.1-20.3) and less likely to have ever had sex with regular partners in the past 12 months (AOR=0.2, 95% CI: 0.1-0.6). Participants infected with HCV were more likely to have ever injected drugs (AOR=2.7, 95% CI: 1.1-6.5) and be infected with syphilis (AOR=8.0, 95% CI: 3.5-18.0). Participants who had unprotected sex with commercial sex partners in the last sexual encounter were more likely to be female (AOR=2.9, 95% CI:1.7-4.9), have middle school or lower level education (AOR=3.4, 95% CI:2.0-5.5), never have received intervention in the last year (AOR=2.1, 95%CI:1.2-3.6) and be infected with syphilis (AOR=4.2, 95% CI:2.4-7.4).
Conclusions
Methamphetamine is the predominant drug used among the drug users, the prevalence of syphilis and HCV infection are alarmingly high, and unprotected commercial sex was common among this group. The findings highlight the need for effective, multifaceted interventions addressing sexual and drug use-related risky behaviors among this group. Further research is needed to better understand the causal pathway of the syndemics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-172
PMCID: PMC3936988  PMID: 24533587
Syphilis; HCV; Methamphetamine; Sexual behavior; Drug user
6.  Herpes simplex virus 2 and syphilis among young drug users in Baltimore, Maryland 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2005;81(3):248-253.
Objectives: To examine the sex specific seroprevalence and correlates of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) and syphilis among a cohort of young drug users.
Methods: Drug users aged 15–30 years old who used heroin, cocaine, or crack were recruited between October 1999 and August 2002. Baseline interviews gathered information on sociodemographics, drug use and sexual behaviours. Serum was tested at baseline for HSV-2 and syphilis seroreactivity. For each sexually transmitted infection (STI), infected and non-infected participants were stratified by sex and compared using χ2, Mann-Whitney tests, and logistic regression.
Results: Of the 543 participants recruited, 42.4% were female and 39.3% were African-American. The seroprevalence of STIs among females and males, respectively, were HSV-2: 58.7% and 22.0%; syphilis: 4.3% and 0.3%. In multivariate models, older age, African-American race, having over 30 lifetime sex partners, current HIV infection and previous incarceration were independently associated with HSV-2 infection among males. For females, older age, African-American race, sex trade, and daily heroin use were independently associated with HSV-2. For females, only a self reported previous syphilis diagnosis was associated with current syphilis seroreactivity in multivariate analyses.
Conclusions: Examination of this cohort revealed a particularly high seroprevalence of HSV-2 and syphilis, especially among female drug users. Few infected participants had been previously diagnosed with these infections.
doi:10.1136/sti.2004.011544
PMCID: PMC1744972  PMID: 15923296
7.  Prevalence of HIV, Herpes Simplex Virus-2, and Syphilis in male sex partners of pregnant women in Peru 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:65.
Background:
Sexually active heterosexual men may represent an important risk factor for HIV infection and STI transmission to their female partners and unborn children, though little is known about the prevalence of STIs in this population. We sought to determine the prevalence of HIV, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and syphilis infection and associated risk behaviors among male sex partners of pregnant women in Peru.
Methods:
Survey and seroprevalence data were collected from 1,835 male partners of pregnant women in four cities in Peru. Serum was tested for antibodies to HIV, HSV-2, and syphilis.
Results:
Among the 1,835 male participants, HIV prevalence was 0.8% (95% CI = 0.5–1.4%), HSV-2 16.0% (95% CI = 14.3–17.8%), and syphilis 1.6% (95% CI = 1.0–2.2%). Additionally, 11.0% reported a lifetime history of intercourse with men, and 37.1% with female sex workers. Unprotected intercourse with men during the previous year was reported by 0.9% and with female sex workers by 1.2%.
Conclusion:
Pregnant women's sex partners reported lifetime sexual contact with core risk groups, had an elevated prevalence of HSV-2, and demonstrated the potential to spread HIV and other STIs to their partners. Though the prevalence of HIV in the population was not significantly higher than observed in other samples of heterosexuals in Peru, the risk of HIV transmission to their female partners may be exacerbated by their increased prevalence of HSV-2 infection. Further study of heterosexual populations is necessary to fully understand the epidemiology of HIV/STIs in Latin America.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-65
PMCID: PMC2265685  PMID: 18284696
8.  Correlates of HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis infections among prison inmates and officers in Ghana: A national multicenter study 
Background
Prisons are known to be high-risk environments for the spread of bloodborne and sexually transmitted infections. Prison officers are considered to have an intermittent exposure potential to bloodborne infectious diseases on the job, however there has been no studies on the prevalence of these infections in prison officers in Ghana.
Methods
A national multicenter cross-sectional study was undertaken on correlates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and syphilis infections in sample of prison inmates and officers from eight of ten regional central prisons in Ghana. A total of 1366 inmates and 445 officers were enrolled between May 2004 and December 2005. Subjects completed personal risk-factor questionnaire and provided blood specimens for unlinked anonymous testing for presence of antibodies to HIV, HCV and Treponema pallidum; and surface antigen of HBV (HBsAg). These data were analyzed using both univariate and multivariate techniques.
Results
Almost 18% (1336) of 7652 eligible inmates and 21% (445) of 2139 eligible officers in eight study prisons took part. Median ages of inmates and officers were 36.5 years (range 16–84) and 38.1 years (range 25–59), respectively. Among inmates, HIV seroprevalence was 5.9%, syphilis seroprevalence was 16.5%, and 25.5% had HBsAg. Among officers tested, HIV seroprevalence was 4.9%, HCV seroprevalence was 18.7%, syphilis seroprevalence was 7.9%, and 11.7% had HBsAg. Independent determinants for HIV, HBV and syphilis infections among inmates were age between 17–46, being unmarried, being illiterate, female gender, being incarcerated for longer than median time served of 36 months, history of homosexuality, history of intravenous drug use, history of sharing syringes and drug paraphernalia, history of participation in paid sexual activity, and history of sexually transmitted diseases. Independent determinants for HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis infections among officers were age between 25–46, fale gender, being unmarried, being employed in prison service for longer than median duration of employment of 10 years, and history of sexually transmitted diseases.
Conclusion
The comparably higher prevalence of HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis in prison inmates and officers in Ghana suggests probable occupational related transmission. The implementation of infection control practices and risk reduction programs targeted at prison inmates and officers in Ghana is urgently required to address this substantial exposure risk.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-33
PMCID: PMC2311310  PMID: 18328097
9.  Prevalence and Risk Factors of HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C Among Female Prisoners in Isfahan, Iran 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(7):442-447.
Background
Female prisoners are at risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There has been no previous study regarding the epidemiological status of STIs among female prisoners in Isfahan, central Iran.
Objectives
The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and risk factors of the aforementioned infections among women incarcerated in the central prison, Isfahan, to determine appropriate prevention measures.
Patients and Methods
In a cross-sectional study, all of the 163 women incarcerated in the central prison, Isfahan in 2009, were voluntarily enrolled by the census method. After completing a checklist consisting of demographic, social, and risk factors, a 5ml blood sample was taken from each individual. The sera were analyzed for markers of the hepatitis B virus (HBV; HBsAg, HBsAb, HBcAb), hepatitis C virus (HCV; HCV antibodies), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV; HIV antibodies), and syphilis (RPR). Confirmatory tests were performed on HCV antibody-positive cases.
Results
The mean age of the participants in the study was 34.54 ± 11.2 years old, 94.3% of these women were Iranian, and many of them had only a primary level of education. The prevalence of HBsAg, HBcAb, HBsAb, and HCV antibodies were; 1.2%, 7.4%, 12.9% and 7.4% respectively. No positive RPR or HIV antibodies were detected.
Conclusions
A significant relationship was seen between the HCV antibody, drug injection and illegal sex in the women, and also between HBc-Ab and drug injection. Regular screening, educational programs, and facilitation of access to suitable treatment care should be widely implemented in the prison population. Testing for immunity against HBV should be considered on admission, and afterwards vaccination of all prisoners and an appropriate preventative approach should be applied.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.6144
PMCID: PMC3437455  PMID: 23008724
HIV; Hepatitis B Virus; Hepatitis C; Syphilis; Prevalence; Risk Factors
10.  Long-Term Biological and Behavioural Impact of an Adolescent Sexual Health Intervention in Tanzania: Follow-up Survey of the Community-Based MEMA kwa Vijana Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(6):e1000287.
David Ross and colleagues conduct a follow-up survey of the community-based MEMA kwa Vijana (“Good things for young people”) trial in rural Tanzania to assess the long-term behavioral and biological impact of an adolescent sexual health intervention.
Background
The ability of specific behaviour-change interventions to reduce HIV infection in young people remains questionable. Since January 1999, an adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) intervention has been implemented in ten randomly chosen intervention communities in rural Tanzania, within a community randomised trial (see below; NCT00248469). The intervention consisted of teacher-led, peer-assisted in-school education, youth-friendly health services, community activities, and youth condom promotion and distribution. Process evaluation in 1999–2002 showed high intervention quality and coverage. A 2001/2 intervention impact evaluation showed no impact on the primary outcomes of HIV seroincidence and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) seroprevalence but found substantial improvements in SRH knowledge, reported attitudes, and some reported sexual behaviours. It was postulated that the impact on “upstream” knowledge, attitude, and reported behaviour outcomes seen at the 3-year follow-up would, in the longer term, lead to a reduction in HIV and HSV-2 infection rates and other biological outcomes. A further impact evaluation survey in 2007/8 (∼9 years post-intervention) tested this hypothesis.
Methods and Findings
This is a cross-sectional survey (June 2007 through July 2008) of 13,814 young people aged 15–30 y who had attended trial schools during the first phase of the MEMA kwa Vijana intervention trial (1999–2002). Prevalences of the primary outcomes HIV and HSV-2 were 1.8% and 25.9% in males and 4.0% and 41.4% in females, respectively. The intervention did not significantly reduce risk of HIV (males adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 0.91, 95%CI 0.50–1.65; females aPR 1.07, 95%CI 0.68–1.67) or HSV-2 (males aPR 0.94, 95%CI 0.77–1.15; females aPR 0.96, 95%CI 0.87–1.06). The intervention was associated with a reduction in the proportion of males reporting more than four sexual partners in their lifetime (aPR 0.87, 95%CI 0.78–0.97) and an increase in reported condom use at last sex with a non-regular partner among females (aPR 1.34, 95%CI 1.07–1.69). There was a clear and consistent beneficial impact on knowledge, but no significant impact on reported attitudes to sexual risk, reported pregnancies, or other reported sexual behaviours. The study population was likely to have been, on average, at lower risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections compared to other rural populations, as only youth who had reached year five of primary school were eligible.
Conclusions
SRH knowledge can be improved and retained long-term, but this intervention had only a limited effect on reported behaviour and no significant effect on HIV/STI prevalence. Youth interventions integrated within intensive, community-wide risk reduction programmes may be more successful and should be evaluated.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00248469
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 2.5 million people become infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner, so individuals can reduce their risk of HIV infection by abstaining from sex, by delaying first sex, by having few partners, and by always using a condom. And, because nearly half of new HIV infections occur among youths (15- to 24-year-olds), programs targeted at adolescents that encourage these protective behaviors could have a substantial impact on the HIV epidemic. One such program is the MEMA kwa Vijana (“Good things for young people”) program in rural Tanzania. This program includes in-school sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education for pupils in their last three years of primary education (12- to 15-year-olds) that provides them with the knowledge and skills needed to delay sexual debut and to reduce sexual risk taking. Between 1999 and 2002, the program was trialed in ten randomly chosen rural communities in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania; ten similar communities that did not receive the intervention acted as controls. Since 2004, the program has been scaled up to cover more communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the quality and coverage of the MEMA kwa Vijana program was good, a 2001/2002 evaluation found no evidence that the intervention had reduced the incidence of HIV (the proportion of the young people in the trial who became HIV positive during the follow-up period) or the prevalence (the proportion of the young people in the trial who were HIV positive at the end of the follow-up period) of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2, another sexually transmitted virus). However, the evaluation found improvements in SRH knowledge, in reported sexual attitudes, and in some reported sexual behaviors. Evaluations of other HIV prevention programs in other developing countries have also failed to provide strong evidence that such programs decrease the risk of HIV infection or other biological outcomes such as the frequency of other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies, even when SRH knowledge improves. One possibility is that it takes some time for improved SRH knowledge to be reflected in true changes in sexual behavior and in HIV prevalence. In this follow-up study, therefore, researchers investigate the long-term impact of the MEMA kwa Vijana program on HIV and HSV-2 prevalence and ask whether the improvement in knowledge, reported attitudes and sexual risk behaviours seen at the 3-year follow up has persisted.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In 2007/8, the researchers surveyed nearly 14,000 young people who had attended the trial schools between 1999 and 2002. Each participant had their HIV and HSV-2 status determined and answered questions (for example, “can HIV be caught by sexual intercourse (making love) with someone,” and “if a girl accepts a gift from a boy, must she agree to have sexual intercourse (make love) with him?”) to provide three composite sexual knowledge scores and one composite attitude score. 1.8% of the male and 4.0% of the female participants were HIV positive; 25.9% and 41.4% of the male and female participants, respectively, were HSV-2 positive. The prevalences were similar among the young people whose trial communities had been randomly allocated to receive the MEMA kwa Vijana Program and those whose communities had not received it, indicating that the MEMA kwa Vijana intervention program had not reduced the risk of HIV or HSV-2. The intervention program was associated, however, with a reduction in the proportion of men reporting more than four sexual partners in their lifetime and with an increase in reported condom use at last sex with a non-regular partner among women. Finally, although the intervention had still increased SRH knowledge, it now had had no impact on reported attitudes to sexual risk, reported pregnancies, or other reported risky sexual behaviors beyond what might have happened due to chance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the MEMA kwa Vijana trial, SRH knowledge improved and that this improved knowledge was retained for many years. Disappointingly, however, this intervention program had only a limited effect on reported sexual behaviors and no effect on HIV and HSV-2 prevalence at the 9-year follow-up. Although these findings may not be generalizable to other adolescent populations, they suggest that intervention programs that target only adolescents might not be particularly effective. Young people might find it hard to put their improved skills and knowledge into action when challenged, for example, by widespread community attitudes such as acceptance of older male–younger female relationships. Thus, the researchers suggest that the integration of youth HIV prevention programs within risk reduction programs that tackle sexual norms and expectations in all age groups might be a more successful approach and should be evaluated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000287.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rachel Jewkes
More information about the MEMA kwa Vijana program is available at their Web site
Information is available from the Programme for Research and Capacity Building in Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV in Developing Countries on recent and ongoing research on HIV infection and other STIs
Information is available from the World Health Organization on HIV and on the health of young people
Information on HIV is available from UNAIDS
Information on HIV in children and adolescents is available from UNICEF
Information on HIV prevention interventions in the education sector is available from UNESCO
Information on HIV infection and AIDS is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on HIV/AIDS and on HIV/AIDS among youth (in English and Spanish)
HIV InSitehas comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including links to information on the prevention of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS prevention and AIDS and sex education (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000287
PMCID: PMC2882431  PMID: 20543994
11.  Infection status and risk factors of HIV, HBV, HCV, and syphilis among drug users in Guangdong, China - a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:657.
Background
China has witnessed a remarkable increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. The study is to assess the prevalence of HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis and related risk factors among drug users in mandatory detoxification center Qingyuan, Guangdong, China.
Method
A cross-sectional study on drug use behaviors, sex behaviors, and presence of antibodies to HIV, HCV, Treponema pallidum, and surface antigen of HBV (HBsAg) was conducted among drug users recruited from 3 detoxification centers in Qingyuan, Guangdong, China. Risk factors for each of four infections were analyzed with logistic regression model.
Results
A total of 740 subjects were recruited, the median age was 31 years old (range 24-38). The seroprevalence rates of HIV, HBsAg, HCV and syphilis were 4.6%, 19.3%, 71.6% and 12.6%, respectively. Risk factors for HIV were intravenous drug use and co-infection with syphilis. Having a regular sexual partner who was a drug user was considered to be a risk factor for HBV. Intravenous drug use was a risk factor for HCV. However, the consistent use of condoms with commercial sex partners was protective for HCV infection. Compared to drug users living in urban area, those living in rural areas were more likely to be infected with syphilis, and there was an association between commercial sex and syphilis.
Conclusion
The prevalence of HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis were high among drug users in detoxification centers in Qingyuan, thus, risk reduction programs for the drug user population is urgently required.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-657
PMCID: PMC3091571  PMID: 21040549
12.  High prevalence of syphilis among street-based female sex workers in Nanchang, China 
Background:
Female sex workers (FSWs) play a critical role in the heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in China. Several studies reported that street-based FSWs have higher risk behaviors than establishment-based FSWs. Therefore, street-based FSWs should be specifically targeted for HIV and STIs intervention programs.
Objectives:
This study aims to investigate the prevalence rates and risk factors of HIV and syphilis among FSWs in Nanchang, China.
Materials and Methods:
Using convenience sampling methods, 361 street-based FSWs were recruited from August 2011 to February 2012. All participants completed an anonymous questionnaire on socioeconomic and sex behavioral information and were tested for HIV and syphilis. Risk for HIV and syphilis infection was assessed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses.
Results:
No HIV infections were found. The prevalence rate of syphilis was 43.5%. Nearly 46.1% of street-based FSWs reported having education for no more than 6 years. Having reproductive tract infections at current visit, duration of sex work more than 5 years, indulgence in unprotected sex trade in the last time, unprotected sex trade in the last month, and unprotected sex with boyfriend or spouse in the last month were reported by 35.2%, 43.5%, 33.8%, 60.4%, and 93.1% street-based FSWs, respectively. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, having reproductive tract infections at current visit [odds ratio (OR), 12.10; 95% confidence interval (CI), 6.01-24.37], duration of sex work more than five years (OR, 4.26; 95% CI, 2.40-7.54), and unprotected sex trade in the last month (OR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.06-3.22) were independently associated with syphilis infection.
Conclusion:
The prevalence rate of syphilis among street-based FSWs is very high. Most street-based FSWs in our survey had low education, long experience of commercial sex, and high rate of inconsistent condom use. Comprehensive interventions targeting this high-risk group, especially scaling up screening and ensuring consistent use of condoms during sex are needed.
doi:10.4103/2229-5178.142491
PMCID: PMC4228639  PMID: 25396127
Epidemiology; female sex worker; human immunodeficiency virus; prevalence; risk factor; syphilis
13.  Recreational drug use and risks of HIV and sexually transmitted infections among Chinese men who have sex with men: Mediation through multiple sexual partnerships 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):642.
Background
Recreational drug use (RDU) may result in sexual disinhibition and higher risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China. We assessed whether RDU was associated with HIV, syphilis, and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) within the context of multiple sexual partnerships and unprotected sex.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study among sexually-active MSM in six Chinese cities (Kunming, Jinan, Changsha, Zhengzhou, Nanjing, and Shanghai) in 2012–2013. We interviewed participants regarding RDU and sexual activity and drew blood for HIV, syphilis, and HSV-2. We fit multiple logistic regression models to assess associations of drug use and HIV, syphilis and HSV-2 infections, controlling for number of sexual partners and unprotected sex.
Results
Of 3830 participants, 28% reported ever using ≥1 of these drugs in the past 6 months: popper (alkyl nitrites), ecstasy, ice (methamphetamine), amphetamine, tramadol, and ketamine. In the past six months, 62% of MSM reported ≥2 sexual partners and 76% did not use condoms at last sexual encounter. HIV, syphilis and HSV-2 prevalences were 9.2%, 12.2%, and 10.3%, respectively.RDU was associated with HIV infection (aOR = 1.67; 95% CI, 1.31-2.13). Men with RDU were more likely to report multiple sexual partners (OR = 1.69; 95% CI, 1.44-1.98) and unprotected sex (aOR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.05-1.49). The RDU-HIV association persisted (aOR = 1.58; 95% CI = 1.23-2.02) after adjusting for numbers of partners.
Conclusions
RDU was associated with multiple sexual partnerships, unprotected sex, and HIV among Chinese MSM. It is plausible that RDU is a driver of increased sexual/HIV risk and/or may be an associated behavior with sexually risky lifestyles. Community engagement is needed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-014-0642-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12879-014-0642-9
PMCID: PMC4272794  PMID: 25443542
Men who have sex with men; Multiple sexual partners; Unprotected sex; HIV; Syphilis; HSV-2; Recreational drug use; Substance use; China
14.  Prevalence of herpes simplex type 2 and syphilis serology among young adults in a rural Gambian community 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2001;77(5):358-365.
Objectives: To estimate prevalence and risk factors for herpes simplex 2 (HSV2) positivity, syphilis and Chlamydia trachomatis infection among rural people aged 15–34 in the Gambia.
Methods: Questionnaires and serum samples were collected from 1076 men and women aged 15–34 during a cross sectional prevalence survey in a rural area of the Gambia. Sera were screened for antibodies to herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2), and for syphilis using Treponema pallidum haemagglutination assay (TPHA) and rapid plasma reagin (RPR) tests. Urine was tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for C trachomatis infection.
Results: 28% of women and 5% of men were HSV2 ELISA positive; 10% of women and 2% of men were TPHA positive; and 7% of women and 1% of men were both RPR and TPHA positive. Out of 1030 urine sample tested only six were positive for C trachomatis. 7% of those who reported never having sex were positive for one or other of these tests. Prevalences of all STIs increased with age and were higher in women than men. Women were much less likely than men to seek treatment for STI symptoms at a health centre. Married people were at increased risk of an STI compared with single people. Jola and Fula women had a higher prevalence of HSV2 than women from other ethnic groups, and Fulas also had a higher prevalence of RPR/TPHA positivity. The limited number of sexual behaviour questions were not significantly associated with STIs after adjustment for age, marital status, and ethnic group.
Conclusions: The prevalences of the ulcerative infections HSV2 and syphilis in this population are a cause for concern. In a setting where HIV1 prevalence remains low this indicates an urgent need for STI control and behaviour change programmes to prevent an HIV epidemic. Concerns about the validity of reported sexual behaviour data high light the necessity of biological markers in the evaluation of behaviour change programmes.
Key Words: seroepidemiological studies; Africa; herpes simplex virus
doi:10.1136/sti.77.5.358
PMCID: PMC1744381  PMID: 11588283
15.  HIV among People Who Inject Drugs in the Middle East and North Africa: Systematic Review and Data Synthesis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001663.
Laith Abu-Raddad and colleagues assess the current state of knowledge of the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs in the Middle East and North Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
It is perceived that little is known about the epidemiology of HIV infection among people who inject drugs (PWID) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The primary objective of this study was to assess the status of the HIV epidemic among PWID in MENA by describing HIV prevalence and incidence. Secondary objectives were to describe the risk behavior environment and the HIV epidemic potential among PWID, and to estimate the prevalence of injecting drug use in MENA.
Methods and Findings
This was a systematic review following the PRISMA guidelines and covering 23 MENA countries. PubMed, Embase, regional and international databases, as well as country-level reports were searched up to December 16, 2013. Primary studies reporting (1) the prevalence/incidence of HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, or hepatitis C virus (HCV) among PWIDs; or (2) the prevalence of injecting or sexual risk behaviors, or HIV knowledge among PWID; or (3) the number/proportion of PWID in MENA countries, were eligible for inclusion. The quality, quantity, and geographic coverage of the data were assessed at country level. Risk of bias in predefined quality domains was described to assess the quality of available HIV prevalence measures. After multiple level screening, 192 eligible reports were included in the review. There were 197 HIV prevalence measures on a total of 58,241 PWID extracted from reports, and an additional 226 HIV prevalence measures extracted from the databases.
We estimated that there are 626,000 PWID in MENA (range: 335,000–1,635,000, prevalence of 0.24 per 100 adults). We found evidence of HIV epidemics among PWID in at least one-third of MENA countries, most of which are emerging concentrated epidemics and with HIV prevalence overall in the range of 10%–15%. Some of the epidemics have however already reached considerable levels including some of the highest HIV prevalence among PWID globally (87.1% in Tripoli, Libya). The relatively high prevalence of sharing needles/syringes (18%–28% in the last injection), the low levels of condom use (20%–54% ever condom use), the high levels of having sex with sex workers and of men having sex with men (15%–30% and 2%–10% in the last year, respectively), and of selling sex (5%–29% in the last year), indicate a high injecting and sexual risk environment. The prevalence of HCV (31%–64%) and of sexually transmitted infections suggest high levels of risk behavior indicative of the potential for more and larger HIV epidemics.
Conclusions
Our study identified a large volume of HIV-related biological and behavioral data among PWID in the MENA region. The coverage and quality of the data varied between countries. There is robust evidence for HIV epidemics among PWID in multiple countries, most of which have emerged within the last decade and continue to grow. The lack of sufficient evidence in some MENA countries does not preclude the possibility of hidden epidemics among PWID in these settings. With the HIV epidemic among PWID in overall a relatively early phase, there is a window of opportunity for prevention that should not be missed through the provision of comprehensive programs, including scale-up of harm reduction services and expansion of surveillance systems.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 35 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and around 2.3 million people become newly infected every year. HIV is mainly transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected partner. However, people who inject drugs (PWID) have a particularly high risk of HIV infection because blood transfer through needle and syringe sharing can transmit the virus. Worldwide, 5%–10% of all HIV-positive people are PWID but in some regions of the world the fraction of all HIV-positive people that are PWID is even higher. To meet the global health challenge of the high HIV prevalence (the proportion of a population that has a specific disease) among PWID, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other international bodies endorse harm reduction strategies to prevent risky injection behaviors among PWID. These strategies include education and the provision of clean needles, syringes, and opioid substitution therapy.
Why Was This Study Done?
To maximize the effect of these harm-reduction strategies in specific regions, it is important to understand the status of the HIV epidemic among PWID. Although surveillance systems provide the information on HIV infection needed to track the progress of HIV epidemics among PWID in many regions, little is known about the HIV epidemic among PWID in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA, a geographical region that encompasses countries that share historical, socio-cultural, linguistic, and religious characteristics). Several factors contribute to the likelihood of individuals injecting drugs in MENA. For example, Afghanistan (a MENA country) produces most of the world's supply of heroin, which is largely trafficked through Iran and Pakistan (also MENA countries). In this systematic review and data synthesis, the researchers use predefined criteria to identify all the published and unpublished data on HIV prevalence and incidence (the number of new cases of a disease in a population in a given time) among PWID in MENA and combine (synthesize) these data to assess the status of the HIV epidemic in this key population for HIV transmission in MENA.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 192 reports that reported the prevalence/incidence of HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV, another virus transmitted through drug injection) among PWID, the prevalence of injecting or sexual risk behaviors among PWID, or the number/proportion of PWID in MENA. From these data, the researchers estimated that there are about 600,000 PWID in MENA (a prevalence of 0.24 per 100 adults, which is comparable with figures from other regions). The data provided evidence for HIV epidemics among PWID in at least a third of MENA countries, mainly emerging concentrated epidemics (epidemics that are still growing but in which HIV infection and transmission are already considerable). HIV prevalence among PWID in MENA varied considerably, reaching an extremely high prevalence of 87.1% in Tripoli, Libya. The data also revealed a high injecting and sexual risk environment among PWID in MENA (for example, on average, about a quarter of PWID shared a needle or syringe in their most recent injection and only a third reported ever using condoms) that, together with a high prevalence of HCV and sexually transmitted infections among PWID, indicates the potential for more and larger HIV epidemics.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that substantial amounts of HIV-related data have been collected from PWID in MENA but that the coverage and quality of these data vary widely between countries. They provide robust evidence for growing HIV epidemics, most of which have emerged within the past decade, among PWID in several MENA countries, but do not preclude the possibility of hidden epidemics among PWID in additional MENA countries. Overall, these findings suggest that the HIV epidemic among PWID in MENA is at a relatively early stage. This window of opportunity to control the emerging epidemics should not be missed, warn the researchers. HIV surveillance among PWID in MENA must be expanded to detect and monitor emerging and growing HIV epidemics, they suggest, and to inform effective HIV policy and programming. Improvements in HIV prevention and treatment among PWID in MENA are essential, they conclude, to confront the growing HIV problem in this population and, to prevent the onward transmission of HIV from PWID to other population groups.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001663.
A 2010 report produced by the World Bank, UNAIDS, and WHO provides information on the status of the HIV epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa; the UNAIDS Middle East and North Africa Regional Report on AIDS 2011 provides further information
The 2013 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
The Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA) provides information about harm reduction efforts, services, and programs in the Middle East and North Africa; Harm Reduction International provides information about harm reduction concepts, strategies, programs, and publications globally
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on people who inject drugs and HIV/AIDS and on harm reduction and HIV prevention (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse also provides information about drug abuse and HIV/AIDS (in English and Spanish)
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert, Nam/aidsmap, and Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001663
PMCID: PMC4061009  PMID: 24937136
16.  Heterogeneity of the HIV epidemic in the general population of Karnataka state, south India 
BMC Public Health  2011;11(Suppl 6):S13.
Background
In the context of AVAHAN, the India AIDS Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, general population surveys (GPS) were carried out between 2006 and 2008 in Belgaum (northern), Bellary (mid-state) and Mysore (southern) districts of Karnataka state, south India. Data from these three surveys were analysed to understand heterogeneity in HIV risk.
Methods
Outcome variables were the prevalence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Independent variables included age, district, place of residence, along with socio-demographic, medical and behavioural characteristics. Multivariate logistic regression was undertaken to identify characteristics associated with HIV and differences between districts, incorporating survey statistics to consider weights and cluster effects.
Results
The participation rate was 79.0% for the interview and 72.5% for providing a blood or urine sample that was tested for HIV. Belgaum had the highest overall HIV (1.43%) and Herpes simplex type-2 (HSV-2) (16.93%) prevalence, and the lowest prevalence of curable STIs. In Belgaum, the HIV epidemic is predominantly rural, and among women. In Bellary, the epidemic is predominantly in urban areas and among men, and HIV prevalence was 1.18%. Mysore had the lowest prevalence of HIV (0.80%) and HSV-2 (10.89%) and the highest prevalence of curable STIs. Higher HIV prevalence among men was associated with increasing age (p<0.001), and with history of STIs (AOR=2.44,95%CI:1.15-5.17). Male circumcision was associated with lower HIV prevalence (AOR=0.33,95%CI:0.13-0.81). Higher HIV prevalence among women was associated with age (AOR25-29years=11.22,95%CI:1.42-88.74, AOR30-34years=13.13,95%CI:1.67-103.19 and AOR35-39years=11.33,95%CI:1.32-96.83), having more than one lifetime sexual partner (AOR=4.61,95%CI:1.26-16.91) and having ever used a condom (AOR=3.32,95%CI:1.38-7.99). Having a dissolved marriage (being widowed/divorced/separated) was the strongest predictor (AOR=10.98,95%CI: 5.35-22.57) of HIV among women. Being a muslim woman was associated with lower HIV prevalence (AOR=0.27,95%CI:0.08-0.87).
Conclusion
The HIV epidemic in Karnataka shows considerable heterogeneity, and there appears to be an increasing gradient in HIV prevalence from south to north. The sex work structure in the northern districts may explain the higher prevalence of HIV in northern Karnataka. The higher prevalence of HIV and HSV-2 and lower prevalence of curable STIs in Belgaum suggests a later epidemic phase. Similarly, higher prevalence of curable STIs and lower HIV and HSV-2 prevalence in Mysore suggests an early phase epidemic.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-S6-S13
PMCID: PMC3287551  PMID: 22376218
17.  Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (HIV, Hepatitis B, Herpes Simplex Type 2 and Syphilis) Among Asymptomatic Pregnant Women 
Objectives
To determine the current prevalence of four major sexually transmitted infections (STIs: HIV, Hepatitis B, Herpes simplex virus 2, and Syphilis) in asymptomatic pregnant women.
Methods
This is a prospective study of 500 consecutive, apparently healthy asymptomatic pregnant women who were attending the antenatal clinic. The information regarding their socio-demographic and behavioral characteristics and obstetric performance was recorded. The blood samples was collected after obtaining their informed written consent from those who were tested for the HIV antibodies (NACO guidelines), HBsAg (ELISA test), HSV2-IgM (ELISA test), and Syphilis (VDRL and TPHA tests).
Results
The overall prevalence of one or the other four STIs studied was 4.8 % with the highest prevalence of HBV (2.4 %), followed by HSV-2 (2 %), and HIV (0.4 %). No woman tested positive for syphilis and multiple infections. All the infections were more common in illiterate, multigravida, monogamous women of low socio-economic status. High-risk sexual behavior of the husbands, history of STIs in husbands, and blood transfusions were the other factors associated with the prevalence of these infections.
Conclusions
The relatively high prevalence of HBV and HSV-2 infections in asymptomatic pregnant women suggests that there is need of screening for HBV and HSV-2 infections along with the pre-existing screening for HIV and Syphilis and universal immunization of HBV high-risk infants.
doi:10.1007/s13224-012-0164-6
PMCID: PMC3425675  PMID: 23542821
Asymptomatic pregnant women; HSV-2; HBV; HIV; Syphilis
18.  Effects of Genital Ulcer Disease and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 on the Efficacy of Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention: Analyses from the Rakai Trials 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000187.
Ron Gray and colleagues analyze data from two circumcision trials in Uganda to assess how HSV-2 status and genital ulcer disease affect the procedure's ability to reduce HIV infection.
Background
Randomized trials show that male circumcision (MC) reduces the incidence of HIV and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections, and symptomatic genital ulcer disease (GUD). We assessed the role of GUD and HSV-2 in the protection against HIV afforded by MC.
Methods and Findings
HIV-uninfected men were randomized to immediate (n = 2,756) or delayed MC (n = 2,775) in two randomized trials in Rakai, Uganda. GUD symptoms, HSV-2 status, and HIV acquisition were determined at enrollment and at 6, 12, and 24 mo of follow up. Ulcer etiology was assessed by PCR. We estimated the prevalence and prevalence risk ratios (PRRs) of GUD in circumcised versus uncircumcised men and assessed the effects of HSV-2 serostatus as a risk-modifying factor for GUD. We estimated the proportion of the effect of MC on HIV acquisition that was mediated by symptomatic GUD, and by HSV-2 infection. Circumcision significantly reduced symptomatic GUD in HSV-2-seronegative men (PRR = 0.51, 95% [confidence interval] CI 0.43–0.74), HSV-2-seropositive men (PRR = 0.66, 95% CI 0.51–0.69), and in HSV-2 seroconverters (PRR = 0.48, 95% CI 0.30–0.79). The proportion of acute ulcers due to HSV-2 detected by PCR was 48.0% in circumcised men and 39.3% in uncircumcised men (χ2 p = 0.62). Circumcision reduced the risk of HIV acquisition in HSV-2 seronegative men (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 0.34, 95% CI 0.15–0.81), and potentially in HSV-2 seroconverters (IRR = 0.56, 95% CI 0.19–1.57; not significant), but not in men with prevalent HSV-2 at enrollment (IRR = 0.89, 95% CI 0.49–1.60). The proportion of reduced HIV acquisition in circumcised men mediated by reductions in symptomatic GUD was 11.2% (95% CI 5.0–38.0), and the proportion mediated by reduced HSV-2 incidence was 8.6% (95% CI −1.2 to 77.1).
Conclusions
Circumcision reduced GUD irrespective of HSV-2 status, but this reduction played only a modest role in the protective effect of circumcision on HIV acquisition.
NIH Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00425984
Gates Foundation Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00124878
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has killed more than 25 million people since 1981, and more than 30 million people (22 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone) are now infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Consequently, prevention of HIV transmission is extremely important. Because HIV is most often spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner, individuals can reduce their risk of becoming infected with HIV by abstaining from sex, by having one or a few partners, and by always using a male or female condom. In addition, three large trials in sub-Saharan Africa (including one in Rakai, Uganda) recently reported that male circumcision—the removal of the foreskin, a loose fold of skin that covers the head of the penis—can halve HIV transmission rates in men. Thus, as part of its HIV prevention strategy, the World Health Organization now recommends that male circumcision programs be scaled up in countries where there is a generalized HIV epidemic and where few men are circumcised.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is still not clear why male circumcision reduces HIV acquisition in men. Certainly, the foreskin contains many cells that HIV can infect and the foreskin's delicate lining is thought to be particularly vulnerable to HIV infection partly because intercourse can cause small tears in it through which HIV can enter the body. But male circumcision also reduces genital ulcer disease—sores on the penis and other genital organs caused by infection with several sexually transmitted organisms including the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Genital ulcer disease, particularly when caused by HSV-2, is thought to increase a person's risk of acquiring HIV, so could male circumcision reduce HIV transmission rates because of its beneficial effects on genital ulcer disease rather than through its removal of foreskin tissue with its rich source of HIV target cells? In this study, the researchers investigate this question by re-analyzing data collected in two Ugandan trials of male circumcision for HIV prevention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the Ugandan trials, the researchers randomly assigned about 5,500 HIV-uninfected men to immediate circumcision or to circumcision 24 months later. At enrollment, they asked the men whether they had any symptoms of genital ulcer disease (for example, a painful penile sore or genital itching), examined the men's genital areas, and took blood samples to test for HSV-2 infection. The researchers repeated these examinations and tests at 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months and tested the study participants for HIV infection. The researchers' statistical analysis of these data shows that circumcision approximately halved symptomatic genital ulcer disease in the study participants irrespective of their HSV-2 infection status. Circumcision reduced the risk of HIV acquisition in men without HSV-2 infection by two-thirds but did not affect HIV acquisition among men infected with HSV-2 at enrollment. Among the men who became infected with HSV-2 during the study, circumcision reduced the risk of HIV acquisition but this reduction in risk was not statistically significant. That is, it could have happened by chance. Finally, the researchers calculated that 11.2% of the observed reduction in HIV acquisition associated with circumcision was mediated by reductions in symptomatic genital ulcer disease and 8.6% was mediated by reductions in HSV-2 infections.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study are limited by the small number of people in some of the subgroups analyzed and by genital ulcer disease being self-reported. Furthermore, the validity of some of the findings may be compromised because the analysis described here was not specified in the original trial protocol. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the reduction of genital ulceration following circumcision plays only a minor part in the ability of male circumcision to reduce HIV acquisition in men. They also suggest that circumcision reduces genital ulcer disease primarily by reducing the rate of nonherpetic ulceration, including sores caused by mild trauma during intercourse. Thus, the researchers conclude, most of the reduction in HIV acquisition provided by male circumcision may be attributable to the removal of vulnerable foreskin tissue containing HIV target cells.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000187.
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
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS in Uganda, and on circumcision and HIV (in English and Spanish)
More information about male circumcision is available from the Clearinghouse on Male Circumcision
Information on the Rakai HIV prevention trial is available
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on male genital sores (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information about genital herpes
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on genital herpes (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000187
PMCID: PMC2771764  PMID: 19936044
19.  Contraceptive Utilization and Pregnancy Termination Among Female Sex Workers in Afghanistan 
Journal of Women's Health  2010;19(11):2057-2062.
Abstract
Background
To determine the prevalence and correlates of prior pregnancy termination and unmet need for contraception among female sex workers (FSWs) in Afghanistan.
Methods
FSWs in Jalalabad, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif were recruited between June 2006 and December 2007 through outreach programs. Participants completed an interviewer-administered survey describing demographics, behaviors associated with risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy, and medical history. Correlates of prior pregnancy termination and current unmet need for contraception were assessed with logistic regression analysis, controlling for site.
Results
Of 520 FSWs, most (82.3%) had been pregnant at least once (mean 4.9 ± 2.7, range 1–17), among whom unplanned pregnancy (36.9%) and termination (33.2%) were common. Jalalabad participants were more likely to report both prior unplanned pregnancy (60.6% vs. 48.3% in Kabul or 20.7% in Mazar, p < 0.001) and prior termination (54.9% vs. 31.8% in Kabul or 26.8% in Mazar, p < 0.001). Most FSWs (90.0%) stated pregnancy was not currently desirable, and 85.2% were using contraception. Unmet need for contraception (14.7% of participants) was positively associated with having sold sex outside their city of residence (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.88, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28-2.77) and inversely associated with illicit drug use (AOR 0.41, 95% CI 0.31-0.53).
Conclusions
Although FSWs in Afghanistan report high rates of contraceptive use, unplanned pregnancy is common. Reproductive health services should be included in programming for FSWs to reduce unplanned pregnancies and to reduce HIV/STI risks.
doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.1947
PMCID: PMC2971650  PMID: 20879869
20.  HIV-1, HSV-2 and syphilis among pregnant women in a rural area of Tanzania: Prevalence and risk factors 
Background
Evidence suggests that a substantial proportion of new HIV infections in African countries are associated with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Thus, the magnitude of HSV-2 infection in an area may suggest the expected course of the HIV epidemic. We determined prevalence of genital herpes, syphilis and associated factors among pregnant women from a remote rural Tanzanian community that has a low but increasing HIV prevalence.
Methods
We analysed 1296 sera and responses to a standard structured questionnaire collected from pregnant women aged between 15–49 years, attending six different antenatal clinics within rural Manyara and Singida regions in Tanzania. Linked anonymous testing (with informed consent) of the serum for specific antibodies against HSV-2 was done using a non-commercial peptide- 55 ELISA. Antibodies against syphilis were screened by using rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and reactive samples confirmed by Treponema pallidum haemagglutination assay (TPHA).
Results
Previous analysis of the collected sera had shown the prevalence of HIV antibodies to be 2%. In the present study the prevalence of genital herpes and syphilis was 20.7% (95% CI: 18.53–23.00) and 1.6% (95% CI: 1.03–2.51), respectively. The presence of HSV-2 antibodies was associated with polygamy (OR 2.2, 95% CI: 1.62 – 3.01) and the use of contraceptives other than condoms (OR 1.7, 95% CI: 1.21 – 2.41). Syphilis was associated with reporting more than one lifetime sexual partner (OR 5.4, 95% CI: 1.88 – 15.76) and previous spontaneous abortion (OR 4.3, 95% CI: 1.52–12.02).
Conclusion
The low prevalence of HIV infection offers a unique opportunity for strengthening HIV prevention in a cost-effective manner. The identification and control of other prevalent curable STIs other than syphilis and specific intervention of HSV-2 in specific populations like pregnant women would be one among approaches towards preventing incident HIV infections.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-75
PMCID: PMC2423369  PMID: 18513451
21.  Female sex work interventions and changes in HIV and syphilis infection risks from 2003 to 2008 in India: a repeated cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(6):e002724.
Objectives
We examined if increased spending and coverage of female sex worker (FSW) interventions were associated with declines in HIV or syphilis risk among young pregnant women (as a proxy for new infections in the general population) in the high-burden southern states of India.
Design
Repeated cross-sectional analysis.
Setting
We used logistic regression to relate district-level spending, number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) treated, FSWs reached or condoms distributed to the declines in the annual risk of HIV and syphilis from 2003 to 2008 among prenatal clinic attendees in the four high-HIV burden states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Participants
386 961 pregnant women aged 15–24 years (as a proxy for incident infections in the adult population).
Interventions
We examined National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) data on 868 FSW intervention projects implemented between 1995 and 2008.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
HIV or syphilis infection.
Results
HIV and syphilis prevalence declined substantially among young pregnant women. Each additional STI treated (per 1000 people) reduced the annual risk of HIV infection by −1.7% (95% CI −3.3 to −0.1) and reduced the annual risk of syphilis infection by −10.9% (95%CI −15.9 to −5.8). Spending, FSWs reached or condoms distributed did not reduce HIV risk, but each was significantly associated with reduced annual risk of syphilis infection. There were no major differences between the NACO-funded and Avahan-funded districts in the annual risk of either STI.
Conclusions
Targeted FSW interventions are associated with reductions in syphilis risk and STI treatment is associated with reduced HIV risk. Both more and less costly FSW interventions have comparable effectiveness.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002724
PMCID: PMC3686231  PMID: 23794571
Public Health; Infectious Diseases
22.  Association between expatriation and HIV awareness and knowledge among injecting drug users in Kabul, Afghanistan: A cross-sectional comparison of former refugees to those remaining during conflict 
Background
Little is known about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) awareness among Afghan injecting drug users (IDUs), many of whom initiated injecting as refugees. We explored whether differences in HIV awareness and knowledge exist between Afghan IDUs who were refugees compared to those never having left Afghanistan.
Methods
A convenience sample of IDUs in Kabul, Afghanistan was recruited into a cross-sectional study through street outreach over a one year period beginning in 2005. Participants completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire and underwent voluntary counseling and testing for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B surface antigen, and hepatitis C antibody. Differences in HIV awareness and specific HIV knowledge between IDU who lived outside the country in the last decade versus those who had not were assessed with logistic regression.
Results
Of 464 IDUs, 463 (99%) were male; median age and age at first injection were 29 and 25 years, respectively. Most (86.4%) had lived or worked outside the country in the past ten years. Awareness of HIV was reported by 46.1%; those having been outside the country in the last decade were significantly more likely to have heard of HIV (48.3% vs. 31.7%; OR = 2.00, 95% CI: 1.14 – 3.53). However, of those aware of HIV, only 38.3% could name three correct transmission routes; specific HIV knowledge was not significantly associated with residence outside the country.
Conclusion
Accurate HIV knowledge among Afghan IDUs is low, though former refugees had greater HIV awareness. Reported high-risk injecting behavior was not significantly different between IDU that were refugees and those that did not leave the country, indicating that all Afghan IDU should receive targeted prevention programming.
doi:10.1186/1752-1505-1-5
PMCID: PMC1847809  PMID: 17411457
23.  Risk Factors for Syphilis and Prevalence of HIV, Hepatitis B and C among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Beijing, China: Implications for HIV Prevention 
AIDS and behavior  2008;13(4):663-670.
To examine the correlates for syphilis and the prevalence for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) in Beijing, China. A total of 541 MSM was recruited using peer-referral, community outreach, and Internet. Questionnaire-based interviews provided information including, demographics, sexual and other risk behaviors. HIV prevalence was 4.8%, syphilis 19.8%, HCV 0.4% and HBsAg 6.5%. The median number of lifetime male sex partners was ten. In the past 3 months, 20.7% drank alcohol ≥1 times per week. In the past month, 21.3 and 14.6% had unprotected anal intercourse with regular and casual male sex partners, respectively. Syphilis infection was associated with less education, alcohol use, finding male sex partners through bathhouses/public washrooms/parks, and diagnoses of sexual transmitted diseases (STDs). Syphilis is now epidemic among Beijing's MSM. Prevention efforts are urgent as HIV prevalence is already near 5%. Education, condom promotion, STD control, and alcohol-related intervention are needed urgently.
doi:10.1007/s10461-008-9503-0
PMCID: PMC2747785  PMID: 19082879
China; Men who have sex with men; Syphilis; HIV; Sexually transmitted disease (STD); Risk behavior
24.  Risk factors associated with prevalent and incident syphilis among an HIV-infected cohort in Northeast China 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):658.
Background
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) increase HIV infectivity through local inflammatory processes. Prevalent and incident STIs among people who live with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are indicators of high-risk sexual behaviors and imply potential spread of HIV. Little is known about the prevalence and incidence of concurrent syphilis and associated risk behaviors among PLWHA in China.
Methods
A retrospective cohort study was conducted among PLWHA who attended the outpatient clinic of a designated AIDS treatment hospital in Shenyang, China, between March 2009 and May 2013. Physical examinations and syphilis serology were conducted at each visit. A questionnaire on demographic characteristics was also collected.
Results
A total of 1010 PLWHA were enrolled, of whom 77.0% were men who have sex with men (MSM). The baseline syphilis prevalence among PLWHA was 19.8% (95% confidence interval [CI]:17.3–22.3%). During follow-up, 78.3% retained in the cohort, and contributed a median follow-up of 9.4 months (interquartile range: 5.9-18.7 months). Syphilis incidence among PLWHA was 18.7 (95% CI: 15.5–21.8) per 100 person years. Mulitvariate logistic analysis showed that receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) (adjusted OR [aOR] = 0.48), older age (≥40 years vs. ≤24 years, aOR = 2.43), being MSM (aOR = 2.30) and having higher baseline HIV viral load (>100000 copies/mL vs. ≤100000 copies/mL, aOR = 1.56) were independent predictors for syphilis infection among PLWHA at enrollment (p < 0.05 for all). Mulivariate Cox regression found that receiving ART (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 1.81), older age (≥40 years vs. ≤24 years, aHR: 5.17) and MSM status (aHR = 2.68) were independent risk factors for syphilis seroconversion (each p < 0.05).
Conclusions
Syphilis prevalence and incidence were high among PLWHA in Shenyang. A campaign focusing on detection and treatment of syphilis among PLWHA is urgently needed, especially one with a focus on MSM who are at a higher risk for syphilis.
doi:10.1186/s12879-014-0658-1
PMCID: PMC4265485  PMID: 25471736
Retrospective cohort study; Syphilis; Prevalence; Incidence; Antiretroviral therapy (ART)
25.  Syphilis and Its Correlates among Heterosexual Males Attending Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinics – Observation from a Multicity Cohort in Jiangsu Province, China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95289.
Objectives
To estimate the prevalence of HIV and syphilis, incidence of syphilis and to identify the correlates of syphilis infection among heterosexual male attendees of sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics (MSC).
Methods
A cohort study of one-year duration was conducted in Yangzhou and Changzhou cities in Jiangsu province of China. The baseline survey commenced in June 2009, recruited 1225 consenting adult MSCs (609 in Yangzhou and 617 in Changzhou) through STI-clinic based convenience sampling.
Results
Baseline HIV and syphilis prevalence were 0.49% and 17.29% respectively. Syphilis incidence rate was 7.22 per 100 person-years (6.53 in Yangzhou and 7.76 in Changzhou) during the 6-month follow-up with retention fractions of 27.38% and 35.15% for Yangzhou and Changzhou respectively. Majority of the participants were middle-aged, high school educated, married, living with partners and non-migrants. Very few subjects reported recent and consistent condom-use with regular partners. Although considerable number of MSCs reported recent sexual exposure with female sex workers (FSW) and non-FSW casual partners, the proportion of reported condom use was very low during those exposures. In multivariate analyses higher age, having recent sex with FSWs and being HIV-positive were associated with higher syphilis sero-positivity while higher education was protective. In bivariate analyses, being married, divorced/widowed, official residency of the study cities and non-use of condom with regular partners predicted higher risk.
Conclusions
Considering the potential bridging role of MSCs between high and low-risk populations, effective intervention strategies among them targeting the correlates of syphilis infection are urgently called for in Jiangsu province of China.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095289
PMCID: PMC3990697  PMID: 24743839

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