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author:("idko, John A.")
1.  “Why should I take drugs for your infection?”: outcomes of formative research on the use of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis in Nigeria 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:349.
Nigeria has the second highest number of new HIV infections annually. Therefore, it is important to explore new strategies for preventing new infections. The introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for use by persons at high risk of HIV infection has new potential in preventing new HIV infections. The aim of this study is to explore the public opinion, community interest, and perceptions about the use and access to PrEP in Nigeria.
This formative study used a mixed method approach to collect data on public opinions and perceptions on appropriate target groups for PrEP access, community interest, perceptions about the use of PrEP as an HIV-prevention tool, how best to communicate with participants about PrEP, concerns about PrEP use by serodiscordant couples, and suggestions for the design and implementation of a PrEP demonstration project. Telephone and in-depth interviews were conducted, and focus group discussions and consultative meetings were held with critical stakeholders engaged in HIV-prevention, treatment, care, and support programmes in Nigeria. An online survey was also conducted.
HIV serodiscordant couples were identified as the appropriate target group for PrEP use. Most respondents felt that PrEP use by key affected populations would help reduce the HIV incidence. Stigma was identified as a major concern and a potential barrier for the acceptance and use of PrEP by HIV serodiscordant couples. Electronic and print media were identified as important means for massive public education to prevent stigma and create awareness about PrEP. In a male dominated society such as Nigeria, HIV-negative male partners in serodiscordant relationships may resist enrolment in PrEP programmes. This may be complicated by the fact that the identified index partner in most serodiscordant relationships in Nigeria is an HIV-positive woman, who is often diagnosed during pregnancy.
PrEP uptake and use by HIV serodiscordant couples in Nigeria may face notable but surmountable challenges. Much depends on the appropriateness of actions taken by multiple players. Motivation of HIV-negative male partners to use PrEP and establishment of effective public education programmes in addressing stigma are essential.
PMCID: PMC4404045  PMID: 25881087
PrEP; Nigeria; Resistance; Stigma; Couples; Serodiscordant
2.  High-risk human papilloma virus and cervical abnormalities in HIV-infected women with normal cervical cytology 
The prevalence of High-Risk Human papilloma virus (HR-HPV), a necessary cause of invasive cervical cancer (ICC) is relatively high in HIV infected women. Gaps exist in our knowledge of the optimal approaches for managing women who have HR-HPV with normal cervical cytology (NCC) particularly in settings of HIV infection.
Between May 2012 and June 2013 we conducted a colposcopic assessment of HIV-infected women with prior (NCC) and known HR-HPV status to compare cervical abnormalities in women with and without HR-HPV. Colposcopic examinations were done at the Operation Stop Cervical Cancer (OSCC) unit of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Jos, Nigeria. Abnormal colposcopic finding (ACF) was defined as areas of aceto-white epithelium involving the squamo-coulumnar junction, areas of punctation, mosaic pattern or atypical vessels. We compared proportions of ACF as well as histologic grades of cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) in women with or without HR-HPV. Statistical analysis was done on STATA.
We conducted colposcopic examinations in 78 out of 89 (86.5%) eligible women. The mean age of the cohort was 32.4 years (SD ±4.6) with a median 32 years (IQR 29–36). After a mean follow up time of 20.1 months from the initial cervical pap cytology and HR-HPV testing, we found 12 of 78 (15.4%) women with ACF. The odds for an ACF was statistically higher [OR = 4.0 (95% CI: 1.1-14.7)] in women with HR-HPV compared to those without. Of the twelve women with ACF, subsequent histologic examination of colposcopically directed cervical biopsies confirmed CIN 1 in 4 cases (33.3%), CIN 2 in 1 case (8.3%), CIN 3 in 2 cases (16.7%), carcinoma-in-situ (CIS) in 2 cases (16.7%), and normal cervix in 3 (25.0%). Overall, the proportion of women detected with any grade of CIN was 11.5% (9/78) and 6.4% (5/78) were CIN 2 or greater lesion (CIN2+).
HIV-infected women with NCC and HR-HPV had a four-fold higher likelihood for an ACF. The practice of early colposcopic examination of HIV-infected women with prior NCC and HR-HPV may increase early detection of higher grade CIN and CIS cancer stages in our setting.
PMCID: PMC4230523  PMID: 25395987
HR-HPV; HIV; Cervical cytology; Cervical cancer; Nigeria
3.  Hepatitis B Co-Infection is Associated with Poorer Survival of HIV-Infected Patients on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in West Africa 
Hepatitis B has been reported to be high in HIV-infected African populations. However, the impact of this co-infection on the survival of HIV-infected Africans on long-term highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) remains poorly characterised. We investigated the impact of HBV/HIV co-infection on survival of HIV infected patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy in a West African population.
This was a clinic-based cohort study of HIV-infected adults enrolled in Nigeria, West Africa. Study subjects (9,758) were screened for hepatitis B and hepatitis C at HAART initiation. Kaplan-Meier survival and Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate probability of survival and to identify predictors of mortality respectively, based on hepatitis B surface antigen status. All patients had signed an informed written consent before enrolment into the study; and we additionally obtained permission for secondary use of data from the Harvard institutional review board.
Patients were followed up for a median of 41 months (interquartile range: 30–62 months) during which, 181 (1.9%) patients died. Most of the deaths; 143 (79.0%) occurred prior to availability of Tenofovir. Among those that were on antiretroviral therapy, hepatitis B co-infected patients experienced a significantly lower survival than HIV mono-infected patients at 74 months of follow up (94% vs. 97%; p=0.0097). Generally, hepatitis B co-infection: HBsAg-positive/HIV-positive (Hazards Rate [HR]; 1.5: 95% CI 1.09–2.11), co-morbid tuberculosis (HR; 2.2: 95% CI 1.57–2.96) and male gender (HR; 1.5: 95% CI 1.08–2.00) were significantly predictive of mortality. Categorising the patients based on use of Tenofovir, HBV infection failed to become a predictor of mortality among those on Tenofovir-containing HAART.
HBsAg-positive status was associated with reduced survival and was an independent predictor of mortality in this African HIV cohort on HAART. However, Tenofovir annulled the impact of HBV on mortality of HIV patients in the present study cohort.
PMCID: PMC4199237  PMID: 25328814
Mortality; Hepatitis B surface antigen; HIV; CD4; HAART; Survival; Africa
4.  Treatment Outcomes in a Decentralized Antiretroviral Therapy Program: A Comparison of Two Levels of Care in North Central Nigeria 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2014;2014:560623.
Background. Decentralization of antiretroviral therapy (ART) services is a key strategy to achieving universal access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. Our objective was to assess clinical and laboratory outcomes within a decentralized program in Nigeria. Methods. Using a tiered hub-and-spoke model to decentralize services, a tertiary hospital scaled down services to 13 secondary-level hospitals using national and program guidelines. We obtained sociodemographic, clinical, and immunovirologic data on previously antiretroviral drug naïve patients aged ≥15 years that received HAART for at least 6 months and compared treatment outcomes between the prime and satellite sites. Results. Out of 7,747 patients, 3729 (48.1%) were enrolled at the satellites while on HAART, prime site patients achieved better immune reconstitution based on CD4+ cell counts at 12 (P < 0.001) and 24 weeks (P < 0.001) with similar responses at 48 weeks (P = 0.11) and higher rates of viral suppression (<400 c/mL) at 12 (P < 0.001) and 48 weeks (P = 0.03), but similar responses at 24 weeks (P = 0.21). Mortality was 2.3% versus 5.0% (P < 0.001) at prime and satellite sites, while transfer rate was 8.7% versus 5.5% (P = 0.001) at prime and satellites. Conclusion. ART decentralization is feasible in resource-limited settings, but efforts have to be intensified to maintain good quality of care.
PMCID: PMC4083764  PMID: 25028610
5.  Impact of Hepatitis C Virus on HIV Response to Antiretroviral Therapy in Nigeria 
The effect of HCV on ART response in patients in sub-Saharan Africa is unknown. We studied 1431 HIV-infected ART initiators in Jos, Nigeria of whom 6% were HCV co-infected. A similar proportion of HIV-HCV co-infected and HIV-mono-infected patients achieved HIV RNA <400 cp/ml after 24 and 48 weeks of ART (p values >0.05). Hepatotoxicity was uncommon (0.8% and 0.33% at 24 and 48 weeks, respectively), but was more common in the HIV-HCV co-infected group at 24 (aOR=19.3; 95% CI: 4.41–84.4) and 48 weeks (aOR=56.7; 95% CI: 5.03–636.92). HCV did not significantly impact ART response in this Nigerian cohort.
PMCID: PMC3548937  PMID: 23196830
Hepatitis C; HIV; antiretroviral therapy; Africa
6.  Association of HIV and ART with cardiometabolic traits in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Background Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the highest burden of HIV in the world and a rising prevalence of cardiometabolic disease; however, the interrelationship between HIV, antiretroviral therapy (ART) and cardiometabolic traits is not well described in SSA populations.
Methods We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis through MEDLINE and EMBASE (up to January 2012), as well as direct author contact. Eligible studies provided summary or individual-level data on one or more of the following traits in HIV+ and HIV-, or ART+ and ART- subgroups in SSA: body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides (TGs) and fasting blood glucose (FBG) or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c). Information was synthesized under a random-effects model and the primary outcomes were the standardized mean differences (SMD) of the specified traits between subgroups of participants.
Results Data were obtained from 49 published and 3 unpublished studies which reported on 29 755 individuals. HIV infection was associated with higher TGs [SMD, 0.26; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.08 to 0.44] and lower HDL (SMD, −0.59; 95% CI, −0.86 to −0.31), BMI (SMD, −0.32; 95% CI, −0.45 to −0.18), SBP (SMD, −0.40; 95% CI, −0.55 to −0.25) and DBP (SMD, −0.34; 95% CI, −0.51 to −0.17). Among HIV+ individuals, ART use was associated with higher LDL (SMD, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.72) and HDL (SMD, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.11 to 0.66), and lower HbA1c (SMD, −0.34; 95% CI, −0.62 to −0.06). Fully adjusted estimates from analyses of individual participant data were consistent with meta-analysis of summary estimates for most traits.
Conclusions Broadly consistent with results from populations of European descent, these results suggest differences in cardiometabolic traits between HIV-infected and uninfected individuals in SSA, which might be modified by ART use. In a region with the highest burden of HIV, it will be important to clarify these findings to reliably assess the need for monitoring and managing cardiometabolic risk in HIV-infected populations in SSA.
PMCID: PMC3887568  PMID: 24415610
HIV; ART; cardiometabolic disease; sub-Saharan Africa
7.  Rates and impact of hepatitis on human immunodeficiency virus infection in a large African cohort 
AIM: To determine the rates and impact of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections on response to long-term highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in a large human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) population in Nigeria.
METHODS: HBV and HCV as well as HIV infections are endemic in sub Saharan Africa. This was a retrospective cohort study of 19 408 adults who were recruited between June 2004 and December 2010 in the AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria in Nigeria programme at Jos University Teaching Hospital. Serological assays, including HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis C antibody were used to categorise hepatitis status of the patients. HBsAg was determined using enzyme immunoassay (EIA) (Monolisa HBsAg Ultra3; Bio-Rad). HCV antibody was tested using third generation EIA (DIA.PRO Diagnostic, Bioprobes srl, Milan, Italy). HIV RNA levels were measured using Roche COBAS Amplicor HIV-1 monitor test version 1.5 (Roche Diagnostics, GmbH, Mannheim, Germany) with a detection limit of 400 copies/mL. Flow cytometry was used to determine CD4+ cell count (Partec, GmbH Munster, Germany). Comparison of categorical and continuous variables were achieved using Pearson’s χ2 and Kruskal Wallis tests respectively, on MedCalc for Windows, version (MedCalc Software, Mariakerke, Belgium).
RESULTS: With an overall hepatitis screening rate of over 90% for each virus; HBV, HCV and HBV/HCV were detected in 3162 (17.8%), 1983 (11.3%) and 453 (2.5%) HIV infected adults respectively. The rate of liver disease was low, but highest among HIV mono-infected patients (29, 0.11%), followed by HBV co-infected patients (15, 0.08%). Patients with HBV co-infection and triple infection had higher log10 HIV RNA loads (HBV: 4.6 copies/mL vs HIV only: 4.5 copies/mL, P < 0.0001) and more severe immune suppression (HBV: 645, 55.4%; HBV/HCV: 97, 56.7%) prior to initiation of HAART compared to HIV mono-infected patients (1852, 48.6%) (P < 0.0001). Of 3025 patients who were 4.4 years on HAART and whose CD4 cell counts results at baseline and end of follow up were available for analyses, CD4 increase was significantly lower in those with HBV co-infection (HBV: 144 cells/mm3; HBV/HCV: 105 cells/mm3) than in those with HCV co-infection (165 cells/mm3) and HIV mono-infection (150 cells/mm3) (P = 0.0008).
CONCLUSION: High rates of HBV and HCV infections were found in this HIV cohort. CD4 recovery was significantly diminished in patients with HBV co-infection.
PMCID: PMC3602477  PMID: 23538773
Human immunodeficiency virus; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis C; Africa; Liver disease
8.  Association of HIV-Induced Immunosuppression and Clinical Malaria in Nigerian Adults 
Despite the growing body of evidence on the interaction between HIV and malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, there is a dearth of data on clinical malaria in HIV-infected patients in Nigeria. We determined the burden of clinical malaria in HIV-infected adult Nigerians and further investigated the association between their immunological status and the rates of clinical malaria. Ninety seven antiretroviral treatment-naïve HIV-infected adults were enrolled in a cross-sectional study from August to December, 2009. The participants had a complete clinical evaluation, thick and thin blood films for malaria parasites and CD4 cell count quantification. Clinical malaria was defined as having fever (temperature ≥ 37.5°C or history of fever within 48 hours) and a malaria parasite density above the median value obtained for subjects with co-existing fever and parasitaemia. Clinical malaria was diagnosed in 10 out of 97 patients (10.3%). Lower CD4 cell counts were associated with increasing rates of clinical malaria which was 0% at CD4 cell count of ≥ 500, 2.6% at 200–499 and 30% at <200 cells/µL (χ2 = 18.3, p = 0.0001). This association remained significant after controlling for other factors in a multivariate analysis (AOR=22.98, 95% C.I: 2.62–20.14, p = 0.005). An inverse relationship between CD4 cell count and parasite density was demonstrated (regression co-efficient = − 0.001, p = 0.0002). More aggressive malaria control measures are highly needed in severely immunosuppressed HIV-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3578644  PMID: 23878715
HIV; Immunosuppression; Clinical malaria; Adults
10.  Predictors of impaired renal function among HIV infected patients commencing highly active antiretroviral therapy in Jos, Nigeria 
Kidney disease is a common complication of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection even in the era of antiretroviral therapy, with kidney function being abnormal in up to 30% of HIV-infected patients. We determined the predictors of impaired renal function in HIV-infected adults initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in Nigeria.
Materials and Methods:
This was a retrospective study among HIV-1 infected patients attending the antiretroviral clinic at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), between November 2005 and November 2007. Data were analysed for age, gender, weight, WHO clinical stage, CD4 count, HIV-1 RNA viral load, HBsAg and anti-HCV antibody status. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated using the Cockcroft-Gault equation. Statistical analysis was done using Epi Info 3.5.1.
Data for 491 (294 females and 197 males) eligible patients were abstracted. The mean age of this population was 38.8±8.87 years. One hundred and seventeen patients (23.8%; 95% CI, 20.2-27.9%) had a reduced eGFR (defined as <60 mL/min), with more females than males (28.6% vs. 16.8%; P=0.02) having reduced eGFR. Age and female sex were found to have significant associations with reduced eGFR. Adjusted odds ratios were 1.07 (95% CI, 1.04, 1.10) and 1.96 (95% CI, 1.23, 3.12) for age and female sex, respectively.
Older age and female sex are independently associated with a higher likelihood of having lower eGFRs at initiation of HAART among our study population. We recommend assessment of renal function of HIV-infected patients prior to initiation of HAART to guide the choice and dosing of antiretroviral drugs.
PMCID: PMC3213750  PMID: 22083208
Highly active antiretroviral therapy; human immunodeficiency virus; predictors; renal function; serum creatinine
11.  Impact of hepatitis B virus infection on HIV response to antiretroviral therapy in Nigeria 
As HAART is introduced into areas of the world with high hepatitis B virus (HBV) endemicity, it is important to determine the influence of HBV on HIV-HBV co-infected persons receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).
We studied 1,564 HIV-infected subjects in Jos, Nigeria who initiated ART. HIV-HBV co-infected participants had HBeAg and HBV DNA status determined. CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load at ART initiation were compared between HIV mono-infected and HIV-HBV co-infected subjects using univariate methods. Regression analyses were used to determine if HBeAg status or HBV DNA at ART initiation were associated with baseline HIV parameters or ART response.
The CD4+ T-cell counts of the 262 (16.7%) HIV-HBV co-infected participants was 107 cells/mL compared to 130 cells/mL in HIV monoinfected participants (p <0.001) at ART initiation. HIV-HBV co-infected participants also had higher HIV viral loads than HIV monoinfected subjects (4.96 vs. 4.75 log10 copies/mL; p = 0.02). Higher HBV DNA and detectable HBeAg were independently associated with lower CD4+ T-cell counts at ART initiation but not with higher HIV viral load. In a multivariable model, HBeAg-positive subjects were less likely to suppress HIV replication to ≤400 copies/ml (OR 0.54, p=0.03) at 24 weeks, but they had similar CD4+ T cell increases. At 48 weeks, there was no significant effect of HBeAg status on ART response.
In HIV-infected Nigerian individuals, HBV co-infection, especially in those with high levels of HBV replication, was associated with lower CD4+ T-cell counts at ART initiation independent of HIV RNA level. Subjects with HBeAg positive status had a slower virological response to ART. Further work is needed to understand the effects of HBV on CD4+ T-cells.
PMCID: PMC2753765  PMID: 19772386
hepatitis B; HIV; CD4 cell counts; antiretroviral therapy; Africa
12.  Genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex in Jos, Nigeria 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:189.
Nigeria has a high tuberculosis incidence, and genotyping studies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex (MTC) in the country are necessary in order to improve our understanding of the epidemic.
Isolates of MTC were isolated from cases of pulmonary tuberculosis in Jos, North Central region of Nigeria during 2006-2008. Drug susceptibility test (DST) was performed on 77 of 111 isolates by proportion method on Lowenstein Jensen (LJ) slope while genotyping of mycobacterial DNA was performed by spoligotyping. The SpolDB4 database and the model-based program 'spotclust' were used to assign isolates to families, subfamilies and variants.
A total of 111 pulmonary isolates from consecutive tuberculosis patients in the city of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria were spoligotyped. A total of 84 (76%) of the isolates belonged to the Latin American Mediterranean (LAM) family. Of these, 78 isolates were assigned to the LAM10 lineage. Among these, 66 exhibited identical spoligopatterns. Drug susceptibility profiles obtained were not consistently associated with any spoligopattern.
The dominance of few M. tuberculosis lineages suggests either a high rate of transmission, frequent import of closely related strains, or a highly conserved genotype. It remains to be confirmed whether the predominance of identical LAM10 represent an outbreak.
Spoligotyping was useful to gain an overall understanding of the local TB epidemic. This study demonstrated that the incidence of TB in Jos, Nigeria may be caused by a few successful M. tuberculosis families, dominated by the LAM10 family.
PMCID: PMC2902480  PMID: 20579382
13.  Preliminary Report on HIV-1 Vaccine Preparedness in Nigeria: Advantages of Recruiting University Students 
Viruses  2010;2(1):73-77.
The national HIV seroprevalence in Nigeria has risen steeply from about 3% in 1993 to 5–8% in 2001 and now stands at 4.4%. HIV epidemic continues to be a serious threat to the most populous country in Africa with a population of 140 million, with limited use of antiviral drugs that is taken for life since it only suppresses the virus without completely eliminating the virus or leading to cure. Only a change in social behavior and an affordable vaccine can halt the epidemic in Africa. We report here results of a pilot study on the recruitment strategies, sociodemographic aspects and HIV risk behavior of a cohort of normal volunteers recruited at the University of Jos, Nigeria. Our study recorded a high degree of interest and zeal to participate in HIV vaccine studies by volunteers, and demonstrated the superiority of snowballing over invitation by mail, as a recruitment strategy. A cohort of university students may be particularly suitable for conducting HIV vaccine trials because of the assurance of prospective follow-up for up to four years (time to graduation), and a good understanding of the risks and benefits of participation as outlined in the informed consent. We had 100% retention during a follow-up period of two years. Most importantly, the cohort reflected a relatively low HIV seroprevalence, which gives preventive programs the potential to blunt or halt the epidemic.
PMCID: PMC3185563  PMID: 21994601
Nigeria; HIV; vaccine; recruitment; strategies
14.  Interplay of Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor Therapy and Gag p6 Diversity in HIV Type 1 Subtype G and CRF02_AG 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2008;24(9):1167-1174.
The gag p6 region of HIV-1 has various nonsubstitutionary mutations, including insertions, duplications, deletions, and premature stop codons. Studies have linked gag p6 mutations to reduced susceptibility to anti-retroviral therapy in HIV-1 subtype B. This study examined the relationship between antiretroviral therapy and gag p6 diversity in HIV-1 CRF02_AG and subtype G. p6 data were generated for secondary analyses following Viroseq genotyping of pol gene sequences in plasma samples from HIV-1-infected Nigerians on reverse transcriptase inhibitor therapy, with virologic failure (repeat VL > 2000 copies/ml). p6 sequence chromatograms were available for 40 CRF02_AG and 43 subtype G-infected individuals. Subjects who had not received their supply of antiretroviral drugs for at least 2 months prior to the plasma sampling were classified as nonadherent. p6 sequences from therapy-adherent individuals had more nonsubstitutionary mutations than sequences from drug-naive individuals (p = 0.0005). The P5L/T mutation was inversely correlated with the presence of K27Q/N in p6, with each mutation being more prominent in subtype G and CRF02_AG, respectively. The data also suggested that P5L/T may be a compensatory mutation for the loss of an essential phosphorylation site in p6. In addition, there was an inverse association between P5L/T mutations in p6 and thymidine analog mutations in reverse transcriptase (p = 0.0001), and drug nonadherence was associated with an 8-fold lower risk of having a nonsubstitutionary mutation in p6 (95% CI = 1.27–52.57). Our data suggest that antiretroviral therapy influences gag p6 diversity, but further studies are needed to clarify these observations.
PMCID: PMC2928033  PMID: 18729771
15.  Explaining Adherence Success in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Ethnographic Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1000011.
Individuals living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa generally take more than 90% of prescribed doses of antiretroviral therapy (ART). This number exceeds the levels of adherence observed in North America and dispels early scale-up concerns that adherence would be inadequate in settings of extreme poverty. This paper offers an explanation and theoretical model of ART adherence success based on the results of an ethnographic study in three sub-Saharan African countries.
Methods and Findings
Determinants of ART adherence for HIV-infected persons in sub-Saharan Africa were examined with ethnographic research methods. 414 in-person interviews were carried out with 252 persons taking ART, their treatment partners, and health care professionals at HIV treatment sites in Jos, Nigeria; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Mbarara, Uganda. 136 field observations of clinic activities were also conducted. Data were examined using category construction and interpretive approaches to analysis. Findings indicate that individuals taking ART routinely overcome economic obstacles to ART adherence through a number of deliberate strategies aimed at prioritizing adherence: borrowing and “begging” transport funds, making “impossible choices” to allocate resources in favor of treatment, and “doing without.” Prioritization of adherence is accomplished through resources and help made available by treatment partners, other family members and friends, and health care providers. Helpers expect adherence and make their expectations known, creating a responsibility on the part of patients to adhere. Patients adhere to promote good will on the part of helpers, thereby ensuring help will be available when future needs arise.
Adherence success in sub-Saharan Africa can be explained as a means of fulfilling social responsibilities and thus preserving social capital in essential relationships.
Using ethnographic data from Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, Norma Ware and colleagues examine why levels of adherence to HIV/AIDS drugs are so much higher in sub-Saharan Africa than in North America.
Editors' Summary
The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic has killed more than 25 million people since 1981, and about 30 million people (22 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone) are currently infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. HIV destroys immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected individuals died within ten years but in 1996, combination antiretroviral therapy (ART)—a mixture of powerful drugs—was developed. For HIV-infected people living in affluent, developed countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic disease, but for the millions of infected people living in low- and middle-income countries, HIV/AIDS remained a death sentence—ART was simply too expensive. In 2003, this situation was declared a global health emergency. Today, through the concerted efforts of governments, international organizations, and funding bodies, nearly one-third of the people in developing and transitional countries who are in immediate need of life-saving ART receive free, reliable supplies of the drugs they need.
Why Was This Study Done?
For ART to work, it must be taken regularly. If drug doses are missed, the virus can rebound and resistance to ART is more likely to develop. In poor countries, even though free antiretroviral drugs are increasingly available, many obstacles to good adherence to ART remain. These include economic obstacles (for example, the cost of traveling to clinics and the loss of earning associated with clinic attendance), and social, cultural, and behavioral barriers. Some patients fear disclosure, for example. Others receive conflicting messages about the benefits of ART. However, despite worries that the scale-up of ART provision in developing countries would be dogged by inadequate adherence, people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa generally take more than 90% of their prescribed doses of ART, a better level of adherence than in North America. In this study, the researchers investigate why ART adherence is so high in sub-Saharan Africa by analyzing qualitative data from an ethnographic study done in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Qualitative data are often used to address “how” and “why” research questions: ethnography is a comprehensive qualitative approach to describing and explaining human behavior and culture.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their study, the researchers interviewed 158 patients, 45 treatment partners (lay-people who help HIV-positive people keep to their treatment), and 49 health care workers. Patients were asked about their experiences of ART and about the help they received from their treatment partners; partners were asked about the type of help they gave and about their feelings about this help; health care workers were asked to describe a typical clinic visit and to indicate how adherence was discussed. From these interviews and observations of clinic sessions, the researchers identified several strategies used by patients and their treatment partners to overcome economic obstacles to ART adherence. These included borrowing and “begging” funds to pay for travel to clinics and making “impossible choices” to prioritize adherence, and “doing without.” The researchers' analysis also indicates that the prioritization of adherence to ART reflects the importance of relationships as a resource for managing economic hardship. So, for example, they found that treatment partners and health care workers expected patients to adhere to ART (which, by improving patients' health, improves their ability to support themselves and their families) and made their expectations known, thereby creating a responsibility among patients to adhere. Patients, in turn, adhered to their treatment to promote good will from their helpers and thus ensure their continuing help.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings offer a possible explanation of adherence success in sub-Saharan Africa. The high level of adherence to ART can be explained as a means of fulfilling social responsibilities. Adherence, the researchers suggest, not only improves personal health (the main driver for ART adherence in resource-rich environments) but also preserves “social capital” in essential relationships. In other words, in sub-Saharan Africa, adherence to treatment may protect the relationships that individuals living in extreme poverty rely on to help them survive.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Agnes Binagwaho and Niloo Ratnayake
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including an article about to antiretroviral therapy
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS in Africa (including detailed information on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and Uganda) and on providing AIDS drug treatment for millions
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to HIV treatment (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on global efforts to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic
PMCID: PMC2631046  PMID: 19175285
16.  Comparison of a New, Affordable Flow Cytometric Method and the Manual Magnetic Bead Technique for CD4 T-Lymphocyte Counting in a Northern Nigerian Setting 
We compared two techniques for CD4 T-lymphocyte counting: flow cytometry (Cyflow) and magnetic beads (Dynabead). Similar results with good correlation were obtained from the 40 adult blood samples counted (P = 0.057, r = 0.93). The Cyflow technique is more precise and cost-effective than the Dynabead method ($3 to $5 versus $12 to $22 per test, respectively), since as many as 200 samples can be measured per day.
PMCID: PMC540213  PMID: 15643012

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