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author:("dehority, Jack")
1.  Developing an adherence support intervention for patients on antiretroviral therapy in the context of the recent IDU-driven HIV/AIDS epidemic in Estonia 
AIDS care  2013;25(7):863-873.
There is limited data on and experience with interventions for antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence support for patients on ART in Eastern Europe. We sought to identify a feasible adherence support intervention for delivery amongst HIV-positive adults receiving care in Estonia, where the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been mainly concentrated among injection drug users. Our application of intervention mapping strategies used existing literature, formative research and multidisciplinary team input to produce a brief clinic-based intervention entitled the Situated Optimal Adherence Intervention Estonia (sOAI Estonia) which uses both Next-Step Counseling and Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model approach to facilitate integration of ART into the context and demands of daily life. We present the intervention development process, the resulting sOAI Estonia approach, and describe a randomized controlled trial which is underway to evaluate the intervention (results due in spring 2013).
PMCID: PMC3651786  PMID: 23391132
ART; HAART; adherence; intervention
2.  Antiretroviral-Treated HIV-Infected Women Have Similar Long-Term Kidney Function Trajectories as HIV-Uninfected Women 
Natural history studies suggest increased risk for kidney function decline with HIV infection, but few studies have made comparisons with HIV-uninfected women. We examined whether HIV infection treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) remains associated with faster kidney function decline in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. HIV-infected women initiating HAART with (n=105) or without (n=373) tenofovir (TDF) were matched to HIV-uninfected women on calendar and length of follow-up, age, systolic blood pressure, hepatitis C antibody serostatus, and diabetes history. Linear mixed models were used to evaluate differences in annual estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). Person-visits were 4,741 and 11,512 for the TDF-treated and non-TDF-treated analyses, respectively. Mean baseline eGFRs were higher among women initiated on TDF-containing HAART and lower among those on TDF-sparing HAART compared to their respective HIV-uninfected matches (p<0.05 for both). HIV-infected women had annual rates of eGFR changes similar to HIV-uninfected matches (p-interaction >0.05 for both). Adjusting for baseline eGFR, mean eGFRs at 1 and 3 years of follow-up among women initiated on TDF-containing HAART were lower than their uninfected matches (−4.98 and −4.26 ml/min/1.73 m2, respectively; p<0.05 for both). Mean eGFR of women initiated on TDF-sparing HAART was lower versus uninfected matches at 5 years (–2.19 ml/min/1.73 m2, p=0.03). HAART-treated HIV-infected women had lower mean eGFRs at follow-up but experienced rates of annual eGFR decline similar to HIV-uninfected women. Tenofovir use in HIV-infected women with normal kidney function did not accelerate long-term kidney function decline relative to HIV-uninfected women.
PMCID: PMC3636577  PMID: 23273313
3.  Evaluation of multiple measures of antiretroviral adherence in the Eastern European country of Georgia 
There is little information on adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the Eastern European region. This prospective study evaluated multiple measures of adherence and their association with viral suppression among HIV patients in Georgia.
A prospective cohort study enrolled 100 consecutive antiretroviral-naïve adult (age ≥18 years) patients, who were followed for three months. Adherence was assessed by medication refill and three self-report measures (an AIDS Clinical Trial Group [ACTG] tool for four-day adherence, a visual analogue scale [VAS] and a rating task for 30-day adherence). The VAS represented a line anchored by 0 and 100% corresponding to the percentage of prescribed doses taken. The rating task asked patients to rate their ability to take all medications as prescribed, with responses categorized into six levels of adherence: very poor (0%), poor (20%), fair (40%), good (60%), very good (80%) and excellent (100%). Patients with adherence of ≥95% by medication refill, ACTG and VAS, and ≥80% by rating task, were defined as adherent.
Of 100 patients enrolled, eight had missing data and were excluded from analysis. Among the remaining 92 patients, the median age was 39 years, and 70% were men. Major modes of HIV acquisition were injection drug use (IDU; 47.3%) and heterosexual contact (44.1%). The proportions of adherent patients were as follows: 68% by medication refill, 90% by ACTG questionnaire, 38% by VAS and 42% by rating task. On average, four months after commencing ART, 52 (56.5%) patients had a viral load <400 copies/ml and 26 (28.3%) patients had a viral load <50 copies/ml. Of 43 persons with a history of IDU, 22 (51.2%) reached a viral load of <400 copies/ml. In multivariate analysis, only refill adherence was a statistically significant predictor of viral suppression of <400 copies/ml: the risk ratio was 1.7 (95% CI: 1.1–2.8). Refill adherence, VAS and rating task were associated with viral suppression of <50 copies/ml. Non-IDUs were twice as likely to achieve viral load <50 copies/ml compared to IDUs. Refill adherence had the largest area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve for predicting viral suppression.
Medication refill adherence was the strongest predictor of viral suppression. IDUs can achieve optimal virologic outcomes, but may require additional adherence support.
PMCID: PMC3983475  PMID: 24721464
antiretroviral therapy; adherence; Eastern Europe; injection drug use; viral suppression
4.  Underlying genetic structure impacts the association between CYP2B6 polymorphisms and response to efavirenz and nevirapine 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(16):2097-2106.
CYP2B6 variation predicts pharmacokinetic characteristics of its substrates. Consideration for underlying genetic structure is critical to protect against spurious associations with the highly polymorphic CYP2B6 gene.
The effect of CYP2B6 variation on response to its substrates, nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), was explored in the Women's Interagency HIV Study.
Five putative functional polymorphisms were tested for associations with virologic suppression within one year after NNRTI initiation in women naïve to antiretroviral agents (n=91). Principal components (PCs) were generated to control for population substructure. Logistic regression was used to test the joint effect of rs3745274 and rs28399499, which together indicate slow, intermediate, and extensive metabolizers.
Rs3745274 was significantly associated with virologic suppression (OR=3.61, 95% CI 1.16-11.22, p trend=0.03); the remaining polymorphisms tested were not significantly associated with response. Women classified as intermediate and slow metabolizers were 2.90 (95% CI 0.79-12.28) and 13.44 (95% CI 1.66-infinity) times as likely to achieve virologic suppression compared to extensive metabolizers after adjustment for PCs (p trend=0.005). Failure to control for genetic ancestry resulted in substantial confounding of the relationship between the metabolizer phenotype and treatment response.
The CYP2B6 metabolizer phenotype was significantly associated with virologic response to NNRTIs; this relationship would have been masked by simple adjustment for self-reported ethnicity. Given the appreciable genetic heterogeneity that exists within self-reported ethnicity, these results exemplify the importance of characterizing underlying genetic structure in pharmacogenetic studies. Further follow-up of the CYP2B6 metabolizer phenotype is warranted given the potential clinical importance of this finding.
PMCID: PMC3940150  PMID: 22951632
CYP2B6; population substructure; women; NNRTIs; confounding
5.  The potential for bridging: HIV status awareness and risky sexual behaviour of injection drug users who have non-injecting permanent partners in Ukraine 
To quantify potential bridging of HIV transmission between the injection drug using subpopulation to the non-injection drug using population through unprotected heterosexual sex.
Secondary analysis of cross-sectional data.
A sub-sample of participants who reported having a permanent partner who are not injection drug users and have not injected drugs in the past (N=1379) was selected from a survey implemented in 26 Ukrainian cities in 2011. This study evaluates the association between consistent condom use and awareness of HIV status as measured by rapid testing during the study (known/unknown HIV+, known/unknown HIV− and undetermined) among a sub-sample of male injection drug users (IDUs) who have a non-injecting permanent partner. Poisson regression, with robust variance estimates, was utilized to identify associations while adjusting for other factors.
Reported consistent condom use varied between 15.5% (unknown HIV−) and 37.5% (known HIV+); average use was 19.3%. In multivariate analysis, males who were aware of their HIV+ status were more likely to report recent consistent condom use compared to those who were unaware of their HIV+ status. This association remains after adjustment for age, region, education level, years of injection, alcohol use, self-reported primary drug use and being an NGO client (prevalence ratio=1.65; 95% CI 1.03–2.64). No such association was found for those who were HIV−.
Our results regarding HIV-positive male IDUs reinforce previous findings that HIV testing and counselling may be an effective means of secondary prevention. Further research is needed to understand how to effectively promote safer sex behaviours for IDUs who are currently HIV−.
PMCID: PMC3929068  PMID: 24560341
HIV testing; Ukraine; IDU; HIV epidemic generalization; sexual behaviour
6.  A Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism in CYP2B6 Leads to >3-Fold Increases in Efavirenz Concentrations in Plasma and Hair Among HIV-Infected Women 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(9):1453-1461.
Background. Efavirenz exhibits marked interindividual variability in plasma levels and toxicities. Prior pharmacogenetic studies usually measure exposure via single plasma levels, examine limited numbers of polymorphisms, and rarely model multiple contributors. We analyzed numerous genetic and nongenetic factors impacting short-term and long-term exposure in a large heterogeneous population of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected women.
Methods. We performed 24-hour intensive pharmacokinetic studies in 111 women receiving efavirenz under actual-use conditions and calculated the area-under-the-concentration-time curve (AUC) to assess short-term exposure; the efavirenz concentration in hair was measured to estimate long-term exposure. A total of 182 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 45 haplotypes in 9 genes were analyzed in relationship to exposure by use of multivariate models that included a number of nongenetic factors.
Results. Efavirenz AUCs increased 1.26-fold per doubling of the alanine aminotransferase level and 1.23-fold with orange and/or orange juice consumption. Individuals with the CYP2B6 516TT genotype displayed 3.5-fold increases in AUCs and 3.2-fold increases in hair concentrations, compared with individuals with the TG/GG genotype. Another SNP in CYP2B6 (983TT) and a p-glycoprotein haplotype affected AUCs without substantially altering long-term exposure.
Conclusions. This comprehensive pharmacogenomics study showed that individuals with the CYP2B6 516TT genotype displayed >3-fold increases in both short-term and long-term efavirenz exposure, signifying durable effects. Pharmacogenetic testing combined with monitoring of hair levels may improve efavirenz outcomes and reduce toxicities.
PMCID: PMC3466997  PMID: 22927450
7.  HIV Replication Alters the Composition of Extrinsic Pathway Coagulation Factors and Increases Thrombin Generation 
HIV infection leads to activation of coagulation, which may increase the risk for atherosclerosis and venous thromboembolic disease. We hypothesized that HIV replication increases coagulation potentially through alterations in extrinsic pathway factors.
Methods and Results
Extrinsic pathway factors were measured among a subset of HIV participants from the Strategies for Management of Anti‐Retroviral Therapy (SMART) trial. Thrombin generation was estimated using validated computational modeling based on factor composition. We characterized the effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment versus the untreated state (HIV replication) via 3 separate analyses: (1) a cross‐sectional comparison of those on and off ART (n=717); (2) a randomized comparison of deferring versus starting ART (n=217); and (3) a randomized comparison of stopping versus continuing ART (n=500). Compared with viral suppression, HIV replication consistently showed short‐term increases in some procoagulants (eg, 15% to 23% higher FVIII; P<0.001) and decreases in key anticoagulants (eg, 5% to 9% lower antithrombin [AT] and 6% to 10% lower protein C; P<0.01). The net effect of HIV replication was to increase coagulation potential (eg, 24% to 48% greater thrombin generation from computational models; P<0.01 for all). The pattern of changes from HIV replication was reversed with ART treatment and consistent across all 3 independent comparisons.
HIV replication leads to complex changes in extrinsic pathway factors, with the net effect of increasing coagulation potential to a degree that may be clinically relevant. The key influence of changes in FVIII and AT suggests that HIV‐related coagulation abnormalities may involve changes in hepatocyte function in the context of systemic inflammation.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL: Unique identifier: NCT00027352.
PMCID: PMC3828789  PMID: 23896681
antiretroviral therapy; coagulation; HIV infection; HIV replication; inflammation; thrombin generation
8.  Refining HIV Risk: The Modifying Effects of Youth, Gender and Education among People Who Inject Drugs in Poland 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68018.
The goal of this study was to examine specific factors placing young (aged <30) women who inject drugs at higher risk for HIV, and to establish the need for targeted interventions within this population.
A national cross-sectional sero-survey was conducted in 2004–2005 in six regions in Poland. A snowball sample of ever-injectors was recruited from drug treatment facilities and the surrounding community. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs).
A total of 491 injection drug users younger than 30 were recruited, of whom 159 were women and 332 were men. The prevalence of HIV was 16.4% and 9.6% among women and men, respectively. In multivariate analysis, young female injectors whose education terminated at the primary level were more likely to be HIV-positive compared to males with a similar level of education (PR = 3.34, 95% CI = 1.86–6.00) and more highly educated women (PR = 4.16, 95% CI = 2.21–7.82).
This study confirms an elevated risk of HIV among under-educated young women. Suggestions for specific interventions to reduce HIV transmission are presented. Additional research is needed to quantify the differential distribution of risk behaviors which amplify their likelihood of transmission.
PMCID: PMC3720710  PMID: 23935852
9.  Associated factors for recommending HBV vaccination to children among Georgian health care workers 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:362.
Most cases of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and subsequent liver diseases can be prevented with universal newborn HBV vaccination. The attitudes of health care workers about HBV vaccination and their willingness to recommend vaccine have been shown to impact HBV vaccination coverage and the prevention of vertical transmission of HBV. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the factors associated with health care worker recommendations regarding newborn HBV vaccination.
A cross-sectional study of prevalence and awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis B vaccine was conducted among randomly selected physicians and nurses employed in seven hospitals in Georgia in 2006 and 2007. Self-administered questionnaires included a module on recommendations for HBV, HCV and HIV.
Of the 1328 participants included in this analysis, 36% reported recommending against hepatitis B vaccination for children, including 33% of paediatricians. Among the 70.6% who provided a reason for not recommending HBV vaccine, the most common concern was an adverse vaccine event. Unvaccinated physicians and nurses were more likely to recommend against HBV vaccine (40.4% vs 11.4%, PR 3.54; 95% CI: 2.38, 5.29). Additionally, health care worker age was inversely correlated with recommendations for HBV vaccine with older workers less likely to recommend it.
Vaccinating health care workers against HBV may provide a dual benefit by boosting occupational safety as well as strengthening universal coverage programs for newborns.
PMCID: PMC3544730  PMID: 23256746
Hepatitis B; Vaccine; Safety; Health Care Worker; Newborns
10.  Absence of reproducibly detectable low-level HIV viremia in highly exposed seronegative men and women. 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(5):619-623.
Transient HIV infections have been invoked to account for the cellular immune responses detected in highly virus-exposed individuals who have remained HIV seronegative. We tested for very low levels of HIV RNA in 524 seronegative plasma samples from 311 highly exposed women and men from 3 longitudinal HIV cohorts.
2073 transcription mediated amplification (TMA) HIV RNA tests were performed for an average of 3.95 TMA assays per plasma sample. Quadruplicate TMA assays, analyzing a total of 2 ml of plasma, provided an estimated sensitivity of 3.5 HIV RNA copies/ml.
Four samples from subjects who did not sero-convert within the following six months were positive for HIV RNA. For one sample, human polymorphism DNA analysis indicated a sample mix up. Borderline HIV RNA detection signals were detected for the other three positive samples and further replicate TMA testing yielded no positive results. Nested PCR assays (n=254) for HIV proviral DNA on PBMC from these 3 subjects were negative.
Transient viremia was not reproducibly detected in highly HIV exposed seronegative men and women. If transient infections do occur, plasma HIV RNA levels may remain below the detection limits of the sensitive assay used here, be of very short duration, or viral replication may be restricted to mucosal surfaces or their draining lymphoid tissues.
PMCID: PMC3458706  PMID: 21297421
11.  Estonia at the Threshold of the Fourth Decade of the AIDS Era in Europe 
This article describes the trends of HIV/AIDS and related conditions in Estonia during the past decade (2000–2009), with special focus on the potential for epidemic transition. Key transmission determinants and major risk groups are examined and problems and barriers to fighting HIV/AIDS with possible applications in prevention and control are described. Estonian routine data sources and published literature were reviewed, supplemented with information from personal communication with physicians and public health specialists. For comparative European data, international HIV/AIDS and drug addiction surveillance documents, administrative data, and published literature were reviewed. In Eastern Europe (including Estonia) the predominant HIV transmission mode is injection drug use (IDU), closely followed by heterosexual transmission, an increasing risk factor for new cases. Although the contribution of cases acquired by sexual contact with high-risk partners such as IDUs is not known, characteristics of the sexual networks of IDUs may be important in determining the evolution of the HIV/AIDS epidemics in the region. In Estonia, despite major gaps in available data, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is still presumably confined to IDUs (and probably, to their sexual partners). In Eastern Europe, young women in IDU–non-IDU partnerships engaging in unprotected sex potentially serve as a bridge to the general population, yet knowledge of and research into the population characteristics and potential magnitude of bridging are limited. In Estonia, as in other Eastern European countries, HIV prevention and harm reduction initiatives should be tailored not only to the predominantly male HIV-positive IDU population, but also to their noninfected non-IDU female sexual partners.
PMCID: PMC3180763  PMID: 21142588
13.  The Impact of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) on Use of Highly Active Antiretroviral and Antihypertensive Therapy among HIV-Infected Women 
To evaluate the association between enrollment into an AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and antihypertensive therapy.
Cross-sectional analyses of data were performed on HAART-eligible women enrolled in the California (n=439), Illinois (n=168), and New York (n=487) Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) sites. A subset of HIV-infected women with hypertension (n=395) was also analyzed. Unadjusted and adjusted backward stepwise elimination logistic regression measured the association between demographic, behavioral, and health service factors and non-use of HAART or antihypertensive medication.
In adjusted analysis of HAART non-use, women without ADAP were significantly more likely not to use HAART (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5–3.7) than women with ADAP. In adjusted analysis of antihypertensive medication non-use, women without ADAP had an increased but not significant odds of antihypertensive medication non-use (OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 0.93–6.0) than women with ADAP.
Government-funded programs for prescription drug coverage, such as ADAP, may play an important role in how HIV-positive women to access and use essential medications for chronic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3042745  PMID: 21239994
AIDS; antiretroviral therapy; hypertension; women; healthcare disparity; prescription insurance
14.  The Impact of Kidney Function at HAART Initiation on Mortality in HIV-infected Women 
In the early highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era, kidney dysfunction was strongly associated with death among HIV-infected individuals. We re-examined this association in the later HAART period to determine whether chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a predictor of death after HAART-initiation.
To evaluate the effect of kidney function at the time of HAART initiation on time to all-cause mortality, we evaluated 1415 HIV-infected women initiating HAART in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Multivariable proportional hazards models with survival times calculated from HAART initiation to death were constructed; participants were censored at the time of the last available visit or December 31, 2006.
CKD (eGFR <60 ml/min/1.73 m2) at HAART initiation was associated with higher mortality risk adjusting for age, race, hepatitis C serostatus, AIDS history and CD4+ cell count (hazard ratio [HR]=2.23, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.45–3.43). Adjustment for hypertension and diabetes history attenuated this association (HR=1.89, CI: 0.94–3.80). Lower kidney function at HAART initiation was weakly associated with increased mortality risk in women with prior AIDS (HR=1.09, CI: 1.00–1.19, per 20% decrease in eGFR).
Kidney function at HAART initiation remains an independent predictor of death in HIV-infected individuals, especially in those with a history of AIDS. Our study emphasizes the necessity of monitoring kidney function in this population. Additional studies are needed to determine mechanisms underlying the increased mortality risk associated with CKD in HIV-infected persons.
PMCID: PMC3243740  PMID: 20581688
kidney disease; mortality; HIV; WIHS; antiretroviral therapy
15.  Factors Associated with Poor Immunologic Response to Virologic Suppression by Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in HIV-Infected Women 
Virologic response to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) typically results in a substantial rise in CD4 cell counts. We investigated factors associated with poor CD4 response among HIV-infected women followed at 6-monthly intervals in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. Women with nadir CD4 counts <350 cells/mm3 who achieved at least 6 months of plasma HIV RNA < 400 copies/ml were studied. Demographic, clinical, and treatment factors were compared between immunologic nonresponders, defined as the lower quartile of CD4 count change after two visits with virologic suppression (<56 cell/mm3; n = 38), and the remaining group of responders (n = 115). Immunologic nonresponders had lower baseline HIV RNA levels and higher CD4 counts, more frequently used HAART 6 months prior to achieving consistent viral suppression, and more commonly had HIV RNA levels >80 but <400 copies/mL at both suppressive visits (21 vs. 7.8%, p = 0.024). In multivariate analysis, higher CD4 count and lower HIV RNA level at the last presuppressive visit were associated with immune nonresponse. We conclude that higher baseline CD4 count and lower HIV RNA level were associated with poor immunologic response to HAART in women with virologic suppression for at least 6 months. Persistent low level viremia may also contribute.
PMCID: PMC3126664  PMID: 16545008
16.  Outcomes of Universal Access to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in Georgia 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2011;2011:621078.
Since 2004, Georgia achieved universal access to free antiretroviral therapy (ART). A retrospective cohort study was conducted to evaluate the outcomes of Georgia's ART program. The study included adult patients enrolled in the ART program from 2004 through 2009. Of 752 patients, 76% were men, 60% were injection drug users (IDU), 59% had a history of an AIDS-defining illness, and 53% were coinfected with hepatitis C. The median baseline CD4 cell count was 141 cells/mm3. During followup, 152 (20%) patients died, with the majority of deaths occurring within 12 months of ART initiation. Mortality was associated with advanced immunodeficiency or the presence of incurable disease at baseline. Among patients remaining on treatment, the median CD4 gain was 216 cell/mm3 and 86% of patients had viral load <400 copies/ml at the last clinical visit. The Georgia ART program has been successful in treating injection drug users infected with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3065882  PMID: 21490781
17.  Glycated Hemoglobin in Diabetic Women with and Without HIV Infection: Data from the Women's Interagency HIV Study 
Antiviral therapy  2010;15(4):571-577.
Limited data suggest that glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1c; A1C) values may not reflect glycemic control accurately in HIV-infected individuals with diabetes.
We evaluated repeated measures of paired fasting glucose and A1C values in 315 HIV-infected and 109 HIV-uninfected diabetic participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. Generalized estimating equations used log A1C as the outcome variable, with adjustment for log fasting glucose concentration in all models.
An HIV-infected woman on average had 0.9868 times as much A1C (that is, 1.32% lower; 95% confidence interval 0.9734-0.9904) as an HIV-uninfected woman with the same log fasting glucose concentration. In multivariate analysis, HIV serostatus was not associated, but white, other non-black race, and higher red blood cell mean corpuscular volume (MCV) were statistically associated with lower A1C values. Use of diabetic medication was associated with higher A1C values. In multivariate analysis restricted to HIV-infected women, white and other race, higher MCV, and HCV viremia were associated with lower A1C values whereas older age, use of diabetic medications and higher CD4 cell count were associated with higher A1C values. Use of combination antiretroviral therapy, protease inhibitors, zidovudine, stavudine, or abacavir was not associated with A1C values.
We conclude that A1C values were modestly lower in HIV-infected diabetic women relative to HIV-uninfected diabetic women after adjustment for fasting glucose concentration. The difference was abrogated by adjustment for MCV, race, and diabetic medication use. Our data suggest that in clinical practice A1C gives a reasonably accurate refection of glycemic control in HIV-infected diabetic women.
PMCID: PMC2943237  PMID: 20587850
18.  Elevated NT-pro-BNP Levels Are Associated with Comorbidities among HIV-Infected Women 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2009;25(10):997-1004.
HIV infection is associated with left ventricular (LV) dysfunction and accelerated atherosclerosis. These conditions result in elevation of plasma natriuretic peptide (NP) levels. The present study compares N-terminal-pro-BNP (NT-pro-BNP) levels in HIV-infected and -uninfected women and identifies factors influencingNT-pro-BNP levels in HIV-infected women. A total of 454 HIV-infected and 200 HIV-uninfected participants from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) had NT-pro-BNP determination. Elevated NT-pro-BNP level was defined using previously determined age stratified cut-off values of >164 ng/liter (age <60 years) and >225 (age ≥ 60 years). HIV-infected women were older (41.6 ± 8.9 vs. 38.9 ± 10.5 years, p < 0.01) and were more likely to have anemia, hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies, and kidney dysfunction than HIV-uninfected women. HIV-infected women had significantly higher NT-pro-BNP levels (142.4 ± 524.8 vs. 73.6 ± 115.1 ng/liter, p = 0.01) and a higher prevalence of elevated NT-pro-BNP (12.1% vs. 7.5%; p = 0.08). In univariate analyses, elevated NT-pro-BNP was significantly associated with age, systolic BP, hypertension, anemia, triglyceride levels, kidney disease, and HCV seropositivity, but not HIV infection. In multivariate analysis, elevated NT-pro-BNP levels were significantly associated with anemia and kidney function, and had a borderline association with the presence of HCV antibodies. Among HIV-infected women, NT-pro-BNP levels were not independently associated with measures of severity of infection or with HAART use. Although HIV-infected women have higher NT-pro-BNP levels than HIV-uninfected women, the differences are due to non-HIV factors such as anemia, kidney disease, and HCV coinfection. These findings suggest that natriuretic peptide levels are a global marker of comorbidity in the setting of HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC2791362  PMID: 19803714
19.  High prevalence of blood-borne virus infections and high-risk behaviour among injecting drug users in Tallinn, Estonia 
The HIV epidemic in Estonia is rapidly expanding, and injection drug users (IDUs) are the major risk group contributing to the expansion. A convenience sample of 159 IDUs visiting syringe-exchange programmes (SEPs) was selected to quantify the association of HIV-risk behaviours and blood-borne infections. A high prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B core antibody (HBVcore), hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg) and hepatitis C virus antibodies (56, 85.1, 21.3, and 96.2%, respectively) was associated with high-risk injections, unsafe sexual behaviour and alcohol abuse. These findings emphasize the importance of evidence-based secondary prevention among the HIV-infected, especially given the uncertain sustainability of antiretroviral and substance abuse treatments.
PMCID: PMC2925660  PMID: 17326862
injection drug use; HIV; HBV; HCV; high-risk behaviour; Estonia
20.  Evaluation of a comprehensive AIDS education curriculum in Hungary – the role of good educators1 
Journal of adolescence  2002;25(5):495-508.
The aim of this research was to evaluate a school-based AIDS education programme in Eastern Europe. Four evaluation segments were undertaken: process and outcome evaluations of the training of AIDS educators and of the educational activities for students. While most AIDS education curricula focus on the content of the education, our findings demonstrate that other aspects — including the characteristics of those educators who appear to be most effective, the way in which education is affected by teachers’ attitudes, and the cultural implications of transferring programmes from one country to another – also need to be considered, especially in international environments.
PMCID: PMC2925669  PMID: 12234556
21.  High-prevalence and high-estimated incidence of HIV infection among new injecting drug users in Estonia: need for large scale prevention programs 
To examine HIV risk behavior and HIV infection among new injectors in Tallinn, Estonia.
Design and methods
Data from two cross-sectional surveys of injecting drug users (IDUs) recruited from a syringe exchange program (N = 162, Study 1) or using respondent driven sampling (N = 350, Study 2). Behavioral surveys were administered; serum samples were collected for HIV testing. Subjects were categorized into new injectors (injecting ≤ 3 years) and long-term injectors (injecting > 3 years).
Twenty-eight of 161 (17%, Study 1) and 73/350 (21%, Study 2) of the study subjects were new injectors. HIV infection was substantial among the newer injectors: HIV prevalence was 50% (Study 1) and 34% (Study 2), and estimated HIV incidence 31/100 PY and 21/100 PY, respectively. In Study 2, new injectors were more likely to be female and ethnic Estonian and less likely to be injecting daily compared with long-term injectors. No significant difference was found among two groups on sharing injecting equipment or reported number of sexual partners.
A continuing HIV epidemic among new injectors is of critical public health concern. Interventions to prevent initiation into injecting drug use and scaling up HIV prevention programs for IDUs in Estonia are of utmost importance.
PMCID: PMC2925676  PMID: 18308743
Estonia; HIV; IDU; injection drug use; new injecting drug users
22.  Control of Occupational Hepatitis B Among Healthcare Workers in the Czech Republic, 1982 to 1995 
Occupational hepatitis B remains a threat to healthcare workers (HCWs) worldwide, even with availability of an effective vaccine. Despite limited resources for public health, the Czech Republic instituted a mandatory vaccination program for HCWs in 1983. Annual incidence rates of acute hepatitis B were followed prospectively through 1995. Despite giving vaccine intradermally from 1983 to 1989 and intramuscularly as half dose from 1990 to 1995, rates of occupational hepatitis B decreased dramatically, from 177 cases per 100,000 workers in 1982 (before program initiated) to 17 cases per 100,000 in 1995. Among high-risk workers, the effect was even more dramatic (from 587 to 23 per 100,000). We conclude that strong public-health leadership led to control of occupational hepatitis B among HCWs in the Czech Republic, despite limited resources that precluded administering full-dose intramuscular vaccine for much of the program. Application of a similar program should be considered for other countries in regions that currently do not have a hepatitis B vaccination program.
PMCID: PMC2925678  PMID: 10823572
23.  Czech health two decades on from the Velvet Revolution 
Lancet  2009;375(9710):179-181.
PMCID: PMC2925692  PMID: 19913289
24.  Surveillance of HIV, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus in an Estonian Injection Drug–Using Population: Sensitivity and Specificity of Testing Syringes for Public Health Surveillance 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2005;193(3):455-457.
Surveillance of bloodborne infections among injection drug users (IDUs) can be accomplished by determining the presence of pathogen markers in used syringes. Parallel testing of returned syringes and venous blood from IDUs was conducted to detect antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Syringe surveillance for HIV yielded a sensitivity and specificity of 92% and 89%, respectively, and provided a reasonable estimate of the prevalence of HIV among participants. Because sensitivity for HBV (34%) and HCV (55%) was low, syringe testing may be useful for surveillance of hepatitis over time but not for estimation of prevalence.
PMCID: PMC2917983  PMID: 16388495
25.  Antiretroviral Therapy Exposure and Insulin Resistance in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study 
Evidence suggesting an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected individuals has heightened the need to understand the relation of HIV infection, antiretroviral therapy use, and non–HIV-related factors with insulin resistance (IR).
Prospective study of 1614 HIV-infected and 604 HIV-uninfected participants from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study between October 2000 and March 2007. Homeostasis model assessment (HOMA)–estimated IR at 11,019 semiannual visits.
HIV-infected women reporting highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) had higher median HOMA than HIV-uninfected women {1.20 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11 to 1.30] times higher for those reporting protease inhibitor–containing HAART; 1.10 (95% CI: 1.01 to 1.20) times higher for those reporting non–protease inhibitor–containing HAART}. Among HIV-infected, cumulative exposure to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) of >3 years was associated with HOMA 1.13 (95% CI: 1.02 to 1.25) times higher than the HOMA without any cumulative NRTI exposure. Cumulative exposure to the NRTI stavudine of >1 year was associated with HOMA 1.15 (95% CI: 1.05 to 1.27) times higher than the HOMA without any cumulative stavudine use. Family history of diabetes, hepatitis C virus seropositivity, higher body mass index, or reporting menopause was associated with higher HOMA.
Longer cumulative exposure to NRTI; in particular, stavudine is associated with greater IR in HIV-infected women.
PMCID: PMC2889144  PMID: 19186350
antiretroviral therapy; HIV; HOMA; insulin resistance; nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor; protease inhibitor

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