HIV prevalence among Cambodian female sex workers (FSW) is among the highest in Southeast Asia. We describe HIV prevalence and associated risk exposures in FSW sampled serially in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Young Women's Health Study (YWHS)), before and after the implementation of a new law designed to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from two prospective cohorts.
Community-based study in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Women aged 15–29 years, reporting ≥2 sexual partners in the last month and/or engaged in transactional sex in the last 3 months, were enrolled in the studies in 2007 (N=161; YWHS-1), and 2009 (N=220; YWHS-2) following information sessions where 285 and 345 women attended.
HIV prevalence, sexual risk behaviour, amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) and alcohol use, and work-related factors were compared in the two groups, enrolled before and after implementation of the new law.
Participants in the two cohorts were similar in age (median 25 years), but YWHS-2 women reported fewer sex partners, more alcohol use and less ATS use. A higher proportion of YWHS-2 compared with YWHS-1 women worked in entertainment-based venues (68% vs 31%, respectively). HIV prevalence was significantly lower in the more recently sampled women: 9.2% (95% CI 4.5% to 13.8%) vs 23% (95% CI 16.5% to 29.7%).
Sex work context and risk have shifted among young FSW in Phnom Penh, following implementation of anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking laws. While both cohorts were recruited using the same eligibility criteria, more recently sampled women had lower prevalence of sexual risk and HIV infection. Women engaging more directly in transactional sex have become harder to sample and access. Future prevention research and programmes need to consider how new policies and demographic changes in FSW impact HIV transmission.
High plasma levels of interferon-gamma inducible protein-10 (IP-10) have been shown to be associated with impaired treatment response in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Whether IP-10 levels predict treatment in acute HCV infection is unknown.
Patients with acute or early chronic HCV infection from the Australian Trial in Acute Hepatitis C (ATAHC) cohort were evaluated. Baseline and on-treatment plasma IP-10 levels were measured by ELISA. IL28B genotype was determined by sequencing.
Overall, 74 HCV mono-infected and 35 HIV/HCV co-infected patients were treated in ATAHC, of whom 89 were adherent to therapy and were included for analysis. IP-10 levels correlated with HCV RNA levels at baseline (r = 0.48, P<0.001) and during treatment. Baseline IP-10 levels were higher in patients who failed to achieve rapid virological response (RVR). Only one patient with a plasma IP-10 level >600 pg/mL achieved RVR. There was no association with IP-10 levels and early virological response (EVR) or sustained virological response (SVR).
Baseline IP-10 levels are associated with early viral kinetics but not ultimate treatment outcome in acute HCV infection. Given previous data showing that patients with high baseline IP-10 are unlikely to spontaneously clear acute HCV infection, they should be prioritized for early antiviral therapy.
Studies examining the effect of coinfection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) on the HCV-specific immune response in acute HCV infection are limited. This study directly compared acute HCV-specific T-cell responses and cytokine profiles between 20 HIV/HCV-coinfected and 20 HCV-monoinfected subjects, enrolled in the Australian Trial in Acute Hepatitis C (ATAHC), using HCV peptide enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) and multiplex in vitro cytokine production assays. HIV/HCV coinfection had a detrimental effect on the HCV-specific cytokine production in acute HCV infection, particularly on HCV-specific interferon γ (IFN-γ) production (magnitude P = .004; breadth P = .046), which correlated with peripheral CD4+ T-cell counts (ρ = 0.605; P = .005) but not with detectable HIV viremia (ρ = 0.152; P = .534).
ACCEPt, a large cluster randomized control trial, aims to determine if annual testing for 16 to 29 year olds in general practice can reduce chlamydia prevalence. ACCEPt is the first trial investigating the potential role of practice nurses (PN) in chlamydia testing. To inform the design of the ACCEPt intervention, we aimed to determine the chlamydia knowledge, attitudes, and testing practices of participating general practitioners (GPs) and PNs.
GPs and PNs from 143 clinics recruited from 52 areas in 4 Australian states were asked to complete a survey at time of recruitment. Responses of PNs and GPs were compared using conditional logistic regression to account for possible intra cluster correlation within clinics.
Of the PNs and GPs enrolled in ACCEPt, 81% and 72% completed the questionnaire respectively. Less than a third of PNs (23%) and GPs (32%) correctly identified the two age groups with highest infection rates in women and only 16% vs 17% the correct age groups in men. More PNs than GPs would offer testing opportunistically to asymptomatic patients aged ≤25 years; women having a pap smear (84% vs 55%, P<0.01); antenatal checkup (83% vs 44%, P<0.01) and Aboriginal men with a sore throat (79% vs 33%, P<0.01), but also to patients outside of the guideline age group at the time of the survey; 26 year old males presenting for a medical check (78% vs 30%, P = <0.01) and 33 year old females presenting for a pill prescription (83% vs 55%, P<0.01). More PNs than GPs knew that retesting was recommended after chlamydia treatment (93% vs 87%, P=0.027); and the recommended timeframe was 3 months (66% vs 26%, P<0.01). A high proportion of PNs (90%) agreed that they could conduct chlamydia testing in general practice, with 79% wanting greater involvement and 89% further training.
Our survey reveals gaps in chlamydia knowledge and management among GPs and PNs that may be contributing to low testing rates in general practice. The ACCEPt intervention is well targeted to address these and support clinicians in increasing testing rates. PNs could have a role in increasing chlamydia testing.
High Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) prevalence have been reported in populations that do not regularly access health centres for sexually transmissible infections (STI) testing. We reviewed current outreach strategies used to increase access to STI testing and their outcomes.
We systematically reviewed the literature for English language studies published between 1 January 2005 and 28 January 2011 describing CT and/or NG screening programs in non-clinical outreach settings.
We identified 25 programs, with the majority occurring in either Australia (32%) or the United States (32%). The most common target groups were young people aged 15–29 years (52%), men who have sex with men (24%) and sex workers (8%). The median CT positivity was 7.7% (Inter Quartile Range [IQR]: 3.0%-11.1%, n=19 programs), and median NG positivity was 2.6% (IQR: 0.0%-8.0%, n=10). The median participation rate was 53% (IQR: 23.9%-81.3%), and a median of 79.6% (IQR: 55.1%-89.4%) of participants were tested, with a median of 100 tests conducted per program (IQR: 65–331, range: 11–1808). Across all settings the participation rate was highest among target groups gathering in community service venues (community centres, parenting centres, homeless shelters) (median=81.4%, n=4), and social venues (sporting venues or bars) (80.4%, n=1). Lower participation rates were found in street/public community areas (median=23.9%, n=3) and sex on premises venues (10.4% and 24.3%, n=2).
The review indicated that although CT and NG outreach programs reached a relatively small number of people the yield of infections is high. Settings which appear to be more effective at encouraging participation appear to be those within an existing venue, rather than in public areas.
Sexually transmissible infections; Outreach; Testing; Systematic review; Chlamydia
Male circumcision (MC) reduces HIV acquisition and is a key public health intervention in settings with high HIV prevalence, heterosexual transmission and low MC rates. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), where HIV prevalence is 0.8%, there is no medical MC program for HIV prevention. There are however many different foreskin cutting practices across the country’s 800 language groups. The major form exposes the glans but does not remove the foreskin. This study aimed to describe and quantify foreskin cutting styles, practices and beliefs. It also aimed to assess the acceptability of MC for HIV prevention in PNG.
Cross-sectional multicentre study, at two university campuses (Madang Province and National Capital District) and at two ‘rural development’ sites (mining site Enga Province; palm-oil plantation in Oro Province). Structured questionnaires were completed by participants originating from all regions of PNG who were resident at each site for study or work.
Questionnaires were completed by 861 men and 519 women. Of men, 47% reported a longitudinal foreskin cut (cut through the dorsal surface to expose the glans but foreskin not removed); 43% reported no foreskin cut; and 10% a circumferential foreskin cut (complete removal). Frequency and type of cut varied significantly by region of origin (p < .001). Most men (72-82%) were cut between the ages of 10 – 20 years. Longitudinal cuts were most often done in a village by a friend, with circumferential cuts most often done in a clinic by a health professional. Most uncut men (71%) and longitudinal cut men (84%) stated they would remove their foreskin if it reduced the risk of HIV infection. More than 95% of uncut men and 97% of longitudinal cut men would prefer the procedure in a clinic or hospital. Most men (90%) and women (74%) stated they would remove the foreskin of their son if it reduced the risk of HIV infection.
Although 57% of men reported some form of foreskin cut only 10% reported the complete removal of the foreskin, the procedure on which international HIV prevention strategies are based. The acceptability of MC (complete foreskin removal) is high among men (for themselves and their sons) and women (for their sons). Potential MC services need to be responsive to the diversity of beliefs and practices and consider health system constraints. A concerted research effort to investigate the potential protective effects of longitudinal cuts for HIV acquisition is essential given the scale of longitudinal cuts in PNG.
Male circumcision; Acceptability; Foreskin cutting; Papua New Guinea; HIV; Prevention; Beliefs; Foreskin cutting practices; Longitudinal Foreskin cut; Circumferential Foreskin cut
Despite two decades of interventions, rates of sexually transmissible infections (STI) in remote Australian Aboriginal communities remain unacceptably high. Routine notifications data from 2011 indicate rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea among Aboriginal people in remote settings were 8 and 61 times higher respectively than in the non-Indigenous population.
STRIVE is a stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial designed to compare a sexual health quality improvement program (SHQIP) to usual STI clinical care delivered in remote primary health care services. The SHQIP is a multifaceted intervention comprising annual assessments of sexual health service delivery, implementation of a sexual health action plan, six-monthly clinical service activity data reports, regular feedback meetings with a regional coordinator, training and financial incentive payments. The trial clusters comprise either a single community or several communities grouped together based on geographic proximity and cultural ties. The primary outcomes are: prevalence of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomonas in Aboriginal residents aged 16–34 years, and performance in clinical management of STIs based on best practice indicators. STRIVE will be conducted over five years comprising one and a half years of trial initiation and community consultation, three years of trial conditions, and a half year of data analysis. The trial was initiated in 68 remote Aboriginal health services in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.
STRIVE is the first cluster randomised trial in STI care in remote Aboriginal health services. The trial will provide evidence to inform future culturally appropriate STI clinical care and control strategies in communities with high STI rates.
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000358044
Aboriginal; Indigenous; Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia; Gonorrhoea; Trichomonas; Continuous quality improvement; Protocol; Prevalence; Remote
The success of health programs is influenced not only by their acceptability but also their ability to meet and respond to community expectations of service delivery. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have recommended medical male circumcision (MC) as an essential component of comprehensive HIV prevention programs in high burden settings. This study investigated community-level perceptions of MC for HIV prevention in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a setting where diverse traditional and contemporary forms of penile foreskin cutting practices have been described.
A multi-method qualitative study was undertaken in four provinces in two stages from 2009 to 2011. A total of 82 in-depth interviews, and 45 focus group discussions were completed during Stage 1. Stage 2 incorporated eight participatory workshops that were an integral part of the research dissemination process to communities. The workshops also provided opportunity to review key themes and consolidate earlier findings as part of the research process. Qualitative data analysis used a grounded theory approach and was facilitated using qualitative data management software.
A number of diverse considerations for the delivery of MC for HIV prevention in PNG were described, with conflicting views both between and within communities. Key issues included: location of the service, service provider, age eligibility, type of cut, community awareness and potential shame amongst youth. Key to developing appropriate health service delivery models was an appreciation of the differences in expectations and traditions of unique cultural groups in PNG. Establishing strong community coalitions, raising awareness and building trust were seen as integral to success.
Difficulties exist in the implementation of new programs in a pluralistic society such as PNG, particularly if tensions arise between biomedical knowledge and medico-legal requirements, compared to existing socio-cultural interests. Community participatory approaches offer important opportunities to explore and design culturally safe, specific and accessible programs.
Community participation; Male circumcision; Penile cutting; HIV
To estimate prevalence and incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) and associated risk factors among young women working as sex workers (SWs) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
A prospective study of young (<29 years) women working as SWs in brothels, entertainment establishments, and freelance. Sociodemographics, sexual risk, and use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) (“yama” and “crystal”) were assessed by self-report. HIV and STI (Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae) testing were conducted on blood and urine specimens, respectively.
Baseline prevalences of HIV, C. trachomatis, and N. gonorrhoeae were 23%, 11.5%, and 7.8%, respectively. HIV incidence was 3.6 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2%– 11.1%); STI incidence was 21.2 per 100 person-years (95% CI, 12.6%– 35.8%). At baseline, 26.5% reported recent ATS use. HIV infection was associated with freelance SW (adjusted odds ratio, 5.85; 95% CI, 1.59–21.58) and younger age of first sex (≤15 years; adjusted odds ratio, 3.06; 95% CI, 1.01–8.46). Incident STI was associated with duration (per year) of SW (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.1–1.2) and recent yama use (adjusted hazard ratio, 3.9; 95% CI, 1.5–10.3).
HIV and STI infection rates were high among SWs working in various settings; freelancers had highest risk. ATS use was associated with incident STI. Venue of sex work and drug prevention should be considered in prevention programs.
Interventions to prevent mother to child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during childbirth and breastfeeding can reduce HIV infections in infants to less than 5% in low and middle income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all mothers, regardless of their HIV status, practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life. In line with these recommendations and to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, in 2009 the PNG National Department of Health revised their National HIV infant feeding guidelines, reinforcing the WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months followed by the introduction of other food and fluids, while continuing breastfeeding.
The overall aim of this paper is to explore health care workers’ knowledge regarding infant feeding options in PNG, specifically as they relate to HIV exposed infants.
As part of a study investigating women’s and men’s experiences of prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) services in two sites in PNG, 28 key informant interviews were undertaken. This paper addresses one theme that emerged from thematic data analysis: Health care workers’ knowledge regarding infant feeding options, specifically how this knowledge reflects the Papua New Guinea National HIV Care and Treatment Guidelines on HIV and infant feeding (2009).
Most informants mentioned exclusive breastfeeding, the majority of whom reflected the most up-to-date National Guidelines of exclusive breastfeeding for six months. The importance of breastfeeding continuing beyond this time, along with the introduction of food and fluids was less well understood. The most senior people involved in PMTCT were the informants who most accurately reflected the national guidelines of continuing breastfeeding after six months.
Providing advice on optimal infant feeding in resource poor settings is problematic, especially in relation to HIV transmission. Findings from our study reflect those found elsewhere in identifying that key health care workers are not aware of up-to-date information relating to infant feeding, especially within the context of HIV. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring the most recent feeding guidelines are disseminated and implemented in clinical practice in PNG.
Prevention of mother to child transmission; Infant feeding practices; Exclusive breastfeeding; Health care worker knowledge
Pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has neuropsychiatric side effects. Data on the impact of HCV treatment on mental health among injecting drug users (IDUs) are limited. We assessed mental health during treatment of recently acquired HCV, within a predominantly IDU population.
Participants with HCV received PEG-IFN α-2a (180µg/week) for 24 weeks; HCV/HIV received PEG-IFN with ribavirin. Depression was assessed using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with depression at enrolment and during treatment. Also, the impact of depression prior to and during treatment on SVR was assessed.
Of 163 participants, 111 received treatment (HCV, n=74; HCV/HIV, n=37), with 76% ever reporting IDU. At enrolment, 16% had depression (n=25). In adjusted analysis, depression at enrolment occurred less often in participants full-/part-time employed (AOR 0.23; 95% CI: 0.06, 0.82, P=0.023) and more often in recent IDUs (AOR 3.04; 95% CI: 1.19, 7.72, P=0.019). During treatment, 35% (n=31) developed new-onset depression. In adjusted analysis, poorer social functioning (higher score) was associated with new-onset depression (score ≤9 vs. score ≥17; OR 5.69; 95% CI: 1.61, 20.14, P=0.007). SVR was similar among participants with and without depression at enrolment (60% vs. 61%, P=0.951) and in those with and without new-onset depression (74% vs. 63%, P=0.293).
Although depression at enrolment and during treatment was common among participants with recent HCV, neither impacted SVR. Participants with poor social functioning may be most at risk of developing depression during HCV therapy.
injecting drug users; HCV; depression; anxiety; psychiatric
Background and aims
To evaluate reinfection and superinfection during treatment for recent HCV.
ATAHC was a prospective study of the natural history and treatment of recent HCV. Reinfection and superinfection were defined by detection of infection with an HCV strain distinct from the primary strain (using RT-PCR and subtype-specific nested RT-PCR assays) in the setting of spontaneous or treatment-induced viral suppression (one HCV RNA <10 IU/ml) or persistence (HCV RNA >10 IU/mL from enrolment to week 12).
Among 163, 111 were treated, 79% (88 of 111) had treatment-induced viral suppression and 60% (67 of 111) achieved SVR. Following treatment-induced viral suppression, recurrence was observed in 19% (17 of 88), including 12 with relapse and five with reinfection [4.7 cases per 100 person-years (py), 95% CI; 1.9, 11.2]. Among 52 untreated, 58% (30 of 52) had spontaneous viral suppression and recurrence was observed in 10% (3 of 30), including two with reinfection. Following reinfection, ALT levels >1.5× the upper limit of normal were observed in 71% (5 of 7). Among 37 with persistence, superinfection was observed in 16% (3 of 19) of those treated and 17% (3 of 18) of those untreated. In adjusted analysis, reinfection/superinfection occurred more often in participants with poorer social functioning at enrolment and more often in those with ongoing injecting drug use (IDU).
Reinfection and superinfection can occur during treatment of recent HCV and are associated with poor social functioning and ongoing IDU. ALT levels may be a useful clinical marker of re-exposure.
acute; treatment; HCV; mixed infection; injecting drug use; HIV
To determine prevalence and incidence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) and risk factors in young sexually-active Australian women.
1093 women aged 16–25 years were recruited from primary-care clinics. Participants completed 3-monthly questionnaires and self-collected vaginal smears 6-monthly for 12-months. The primary endpoint was a Nugent Score = 7–10 (BV) and the secondary endpoint was a NS = 4–10 (abnormal flora [AF]). BV and AF prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) were derived, and adjusted odds ratios (AOR) calculated to explore epidemiological associations with prevalent BV and AF. Proportional-hazards regression models were used to examine factors associated with incident BV and AF.
At baseline 129 women had BV [11.8% (95%CI: 9.4–14.2)] and 188 AF (17.2%; 15.1–19.5). Prevalent BV was associated with having a recent female partner [AOR = 2.1; 1.0–4.4] and lack of tertiary-education [AOR = 1.9; 1.2–3.0]; use of an oestrogen-containing contraceptive (OCC) was associated with reduced risk [AOR = 0.6; 0.4–0.9]. Prevalent AF was associated with the same factors, and additionally with >5 male partners (MSP) in 12-months [AOR = 1.8; 1.2–2.5)], and detection of C.trachomatis or M.genitalium [AOR = 2.1; 1.0–4.5]. There were 82 cases of incident BV (9.4%;7.7–11.7/100 person-years) and 129 with incident AF (14.8%; 12.5–17.6/100 person-years). Incident BV and AF were associated with a new MSP [adjusted rate ratio (ARR) = 1.5; 1.1–2.2 and ARR = 1.5; 1.1–2.0], respectively. OCC-use was associated with reduced risk of incident AF [ARR = 0.7; 0.5–1.0].
This paper presents BV and AF prevalence and incidence estimates from a large prospective cohort of young Australian women predominantly recruited from primary-care clinics. These data support the concept that sexual activity is strongly associated with the development of BV and AF and that use of an OCC is associated with reduced risk.
In many countries, low Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) screening rates among young people in primary-care have encouraged screening programs outside of clinics. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) make it possible to screen people in homes with self-collected specimens. We systematically reviewed the strategies and outcomes of home-based CT/NG screening programs.
Electronic databases were searched for home-based CT and/or NG screening studies published since January 2005. Screening information (e.g. target group, recruitment and specimen-collection method) and quantitative outcomes (e.g. number of participants, tests and positivity) were extracted. The screening programs were classified into seven groups on the basis of strategies used.
We found 29 eligible papers describing 32 home-based screening programs. In seven outreach programs, people were approached in their homes: a median of 97% participants provided specimens and 76% were tested overall (13717 tests). In seven programs, people were invited to receive postal test-kits (PTKs) at their homes: a median of 37% accepted PTKs, 79% returned specimens and 19% were tested (46225 tests). PTKs were sent along with invitation letters in five programs: a median of 33% returned specimens and 29% of those invited were tested (15126 tests). PTKs were requested through the internet or phone without invitations in four programs and a median of 32% returned specimens (2666 tests). Four programs involved study personnel directly inviting people to receive PTKs: a median of 46% accepted PTKs, 21% returned specimens and 9.1% were tested (341 tests). PTKs were picked-up from designated locations in three programs: a total of 6765 kits were picked-up and 1167 (17%) specimens were returned for screening. Two programs used a combination of above strategies (2395 tests) but the outcomes were not reported separately. The overall median CT positivity was 3.6% (inter-quartile range: 1.7-7.3%).
A variety of strategies have been used in home-based CT/NG screening programs. The screening strategies and their feasibility in the local context need to be carefully considered to maximize the effectiveness of home-based screening programs.
Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia trachomatis; Screening; Home
The motivation of health workers (HWs) to deliver services in developing countries has been described as a critical factor in the success of health systems in implementing programmes. How the sociocultural context of Papua New Guinea (PNG) affects the values, motivation and actions of HWs involved in sexual and reproductive health services is important for policy development and programme planning. With interest in male circumcision (MC) as an HIV prevention option in PNG, this study explored the perceptions and motivations of HWs involved in sexual and reproductive health services in PNG, examining their implications for the possible future roll out of a national MC programme.
A multi-method qualitative study was conducted with HWs across a range of health care professions working in sexual health facilities. A total of 29 in-depth interviews and one focus group discussion were completed. Qualitative thematic analysis of the transcripts and field notes was undertaken using a social constructivist approach and complemented by documentary organizational, programme and policy analysis.
Results and discussions
Introduction of new health programmes, such as a MC programme for HIV prevention, are likely to impact upon one or more of the many motivational determinants. Social–cultural and individual factors influencing HW motivation to be involved in sexual and reproductive health services in PNG included community expectation and concern, sense of accomplishment and religious conviction. Strong links to community responsibility outweighed organizational ties. Faced with an often dysfunctional work environment, HWs perceived themselves as responsible to compensate for the failed health system. The impact of community influence and expectation needs to be considered when introducing a MC programme, particularly to communities in PNG where penile foreskin cutting is a common and accepted practice.
The potential contribution to the success of a MC programme that HWs may have means that taking into account the differing needs of communities as well as the motivational influences on HWs that exist within the sociocultural environment is important. These findings will assist not only in programme planning for MC, but also in the expansion of other existing sexual and reproductive health services.
The acceptability of female-controlled biomedical prevention technologies has not been established in Papua New Guinea, the only country in the Pacific region experiencing a generalised, moderate-prevalence HIV epidemic. Socio-cultural factors likely to impact on future product uptake and effectiveness, such as women’s ability to negotiate safer sexual choices, and intravaginal hygiene and menstrual practices (IVP), remain unclear in this setting.
A mixed-method qualitative study was conducted among women and men attending a sexual health clinic in Port Moresby. During in-depth interviews, participants used copies of a hand-drawn template to indicate how they wash/clean the vulva and/or vagina. Interviewers pre-filled commercially available vaginal applicators with 2-3mL KY Jelly® to create a surrogate vaginal microbicide product, which was demonstrated to study participants.
A total of 28 IDIs were conducted (women=16; men=12). A diverse range of IVP were reported. The majority of women described washing the vulva only with soap and water as part of their daily routine; in preparation for sex; and following sexual intercourse. Several women described cleaning inside the vagina using fingers and soap at these same times. Others reported cleaning inside the vagina using a hose connected to a tap; using vaginal inserts, such as crushed garlic; customary menstrual ‘steaming’ practices; and the use of material fragments, cloth and newspaper to absorb menstrual blood. Unprotected sex during menstruation was common. The majority of both women and men said that they would use a vaginal microbicide gel for HIV/STI protection, should a safe and effective product become available. Microbicide use was considered most appropriate in ‘high-risk’ situations, such as sex with non-regular, transactional or commercial partners. Most women felt confident that they would be able to negotiate vaginal microbicide use with male sexual partners but if necessary would be prepared to use product covertly.
Notional acceptability of a vaginal microbicide gel for HIV/STI prevention was high among both women and men. IVP were diverse in nature, socio-cultural dimensions and motivators. These factors are likely to impact on the future acceptability and uptake of vaginal microbicides and other biomedical HIV prevention technologies in this setting.
Vaginal microbicide; Acceptability; HIV prevention; Papua New Guinea
Male circumcision (MC) has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition among heterosexual men, with WHO recommending MC as an essential component of comprehensive HIV prevention programs in high prevalence settings since 2007. While Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a current prevalence of only 1%, the high rates of sexually transmissible diseases and the extensive, but unregulated, practice of penile cutting in PNG have led the National Department of Health (NDoH) to consider introducing a MC program. Given public interest in circumcision even without active promotion by the NDoH, examining the potential health systems implications for MC without raising unrealistic expectations presents a number of methodological issues. In this study we examined health systems lessons learned from a national no-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) program, and their implications for a future MC program in PNG.
Fourteen in-depth interviews were conducted with frontline health workers and key government officials involved in NSV programs in PNG over a 3-week period in February and March 2011. Documentary, organizational and policy analysis of HIV and vasectomy services was conducted and triangulated with the interviews. All interviews were digitally recorded and later transcribed. Application of the WHO six building blocks of a health system was applied and further thematic analysis was conducted on the data with assistance from the analysis software MAXQDA.
Obstacles in funding pathways, inconsistent support by government departments, difficulties with staff retention and erratic delivery of training programs have resulted in mixed success of the national NSV program.
In an already vulnerable health system significant investment in training, resources and negotiation of clinical space will be required for an effective MC program. Focused leadership and open communication between provincial and national government, NGOs and community is necessary to assist in service sustainability. Ensuring clear policy and guidance across the entire sexual and reproductive health sector will provide opportunities to strengthen key areas of the health system.
Male circumcision; HIV/AIDS; Papua New Guinea; Health system strengthening; No-scalpel vasectomy
Although cervical cancer is the leading cancer in Cambodia, most women receive no routine screening for cervical cancer and few treatment options exist. Moreover, nothing is known regarding the prevalence of cervical HPV or the genotypes present among women in the country. Young sexually active women, especially those with multiple sex partners are at highest risk of HPV infection. We examine the prevalence and genotypes of cervical HPV, as well as the associated risk factors among young women engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
We conducted a cross-sectional study among 220 young women (15–29 years) engaged in sex work in different venues including brothels or entertainment establishments, and on a freelance basis in streets, parks and private apartments. Cervical specimens were collected using standard cytobrush technique. HPV DNA was tested for by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and genotyping using type-specific probes for 29 individual HPV types, as well as for a mixture of 10 less common HPV types. All participants were also screened for HIV status using blood samples. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess risk factors for any or multiple HPV infection.
The prevalence of cervical HPV 41.1%. HPV 51 and 70 were the most common (5.0%), followed by 16 (4.6%), 71 (4.1%) and 81 (3.7%). Thirty-six women (16.4%) were infected with multiple genotypes and 23.3% were infected with at least one oncogenic HPV type. In multivariate analyses, having HIV infection and a higher number of sexual partners were associated with cervical HPV infection. Risk factors for infection with multiple genotypes included working as freelance female sex workers (FSW) or in brothels, recent binge use of drugs, high number of sexual partners, and HIV infection.
This is the first Cambodian study on cervical HPV prevalence and genotypes. We found that HPV infection was common among young FSW, especially among women infected with HIV. These results underscore the urgent need for accessible cervical cancer screening and treatment, as well as for a prophylactic vaccine that covers the HPV subtypes present in Cambodia.
Male circumcision (MC) has been shown to reduce vaginal transmission of HIV to men. While community acceptability is important in a countries preparedness to introduce MC, it is equally important to map contemporary MC and other penile cutting practices, and the socio-cultural dimensions underpinning these practices.
A total of 482 men and women (n = 276 and n = 210, respectively) participated in 82 semi-structured and 45 focus group discussions from four different provinces of Papua New Guinea (PNG), each representing one of the four socially and geographically diverse regions of the country.
Of the men interviewed 131 self-reported that they had undergone a penile alteration with some reporting multiple types. Practices were diverse and could be grouped into five broad categories: traditional (customary) penile cutting; contemporary penile cutting; medical circumcision; penile inserts; and penile bloodletting practices in which sharp objects are used to incise the glans and or inserted and withdrawn from the male urethra or in order to induce bleeding. Socio-cultural traditions, enhanced sexual pleasure and improved genital hygiene were key motivators for all forms of penile practices.
The findings from this study highlight the complex and diverse nature of penile practices in PNG and their association with notions of masculinity, sexuality and contagion. Contemporary penile practices are critical to a community’s acceptance of MC and of a country’s ability to successfully implement MC in the context of a rich and dynamic culture of penile practices. If a MC program were to be successfully rolled out in PNG to prevent HIV it would need to work within and build upon these diverse cultural meanings and motivators for penile practices already commonly performed in PNG by men.
HIV; Papua New Guinea; Male circumcision; Penile practices; Masculinity; Sexuality; Contagion; Cultural meaning
Background and aims
Adherence to HCV therapy impacts sustained virological response (SVR), but there are limited data on adherence, particularly among injecting drug users (IDUs). We assessed 80/80 adherence (≥80% of PEG-IFN doses, ≥80% treatment), on-treatment adherence and treatment completion in a study of treatment of recent HCV infection (ATAHC).
Participants with HCV received pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) alfa-2a (180 μg/week, n=74); those with HCV/HIV received PEG-IFN alfa-2a with ribavirin (n=35). Everyone received 24 weeks of therapy. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify predictors of PEG-IFN 80/80 adherence.
Of 163, 109 received treatment (HCV, n=74; HCV/HIV, n=35), with 75% ever reporting IDU. The proportion with 80/80 PEG-IFN adherence was 82% (n=89). During treatment, 14% missed ≥1 dose (on-treatment adherence=99%). Completion of 0-4, 5-19, 20-23 and all 24 weeks of PEG-IFN therapy occurred in 10% (n=11), 14% (n=15), 6% (n=7) and 70% (n=76), respectively. Participants with no tertiary education were less likely to have 80/80 PEG-IFN adherence (AOR 0.29,P=0.045). IDU prior to or during treatment did not impact 80/80 PEG-IFN adherence. SVR was higher among those with ≥80/80 PEG-IFN adherence (67% vs. 35%,P=0.007), but similar among those with and without missed doses during therapy (73% vs. 60%,P=0.309). SVR in those discontinuing therapy between 0-4, 5-19, 20-23 and 24 weeks was 9%, 33%, 43% and 76%, respectively (P<0.001).
High adherence to treatment for recent HCV was observed, irrespective of IDU prior to, or during, therapy. Sub-optimal PEG-IFN exposure was mainly driven by early treatment discontinuation rather than missed doses during therapy.
injection drug users; HIV infection; discontinuation; pegylated interferon; therapy
Surveillance designed to detect changes in the type-specific distribution of HPV in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 (CIN-3) is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the Australian vaccination programme on cancer causing HPV types. This paper develops a protocol that eliminates the need to calculate required sample size; sample size is difficult to calculate in advance because HPV’s true type-specific prevalence is imperfectly known.
A truncated sequential sampling plan that collects a variable sample size was designed to detect changes in the type-specific distribution of HPV in CIN-3. Computer simulation to evaluate the accuracy of the plan at classifying the prevalence of an HPV type as low (< 5%), moderate (5-15%), or high (> 15%) and the average sample size collected was conducted and used to assess its appropriateness as a surveillance tool.
The plan classified the proportion of CIN-3 lesions positive for an HPV type very accurately, with >90% of simulations correctly classifying a simulated data-set with known prevalence. Misclassifying an HPV type of high prevalence as being of low prevalence, arguably the most serious kind of potential error, occurred < 0.05 times per 100 simulations. A much lower sample size (21–22 versus 40–48) was required to classify samples of high rather than low or moderate prevalence.
Truncated sequential sampling enables the proportion of CIN-3 due to an HPV type to be accurately classified using small sample sizes. Truncated sequential sampling should be used for type-specific HPV surveillance in the vaccination era.
This study aimed to estimate rates of chlamydia incidence and re-infection and to investigate the dynamics of chlamydia organism load in prevalent, incident and re-infections among young Australian women.
1,116 women aged 16 to 25 years were recruited from primary care clinics in Australia. Vaginal swabs were collected at 3 to 6 month intervals for chlamydia testing. Chlamydia organism load was measured by quantitative PCR.
There were 47 incident cases of chlamydia diagnosed and 1,056.34 person years of follow up with a rate of 4.4 per 100 person years (95% CI: 3.3, 5.9). Incident infection was associated with being aged 16 to 20 years [RR = 3.7 (95%CI: 1.9, 7.1)], being employed [RR = 2.4 (95%CI: 1.1, 4.9)] and having two or more new sex partners [RR = 5.5 (95%CI: 2.6, 11.7)]. Recent antibiotic use was associated with a reduced incidence [RR:0.1 (95%CI: 0.0, 0.5)]. There were 14 re-infections with a rate of 22.3 per 100 person years (95%CI: 13.2, 37.6). The median time to re-infection was 4.6 months. Organism load was higher for prevalent than incident infections (p<0.01) and for prevalent than re-infections (p<0.01).
Chlamydia is common among young women and a high proportion of women are re-infected within a short period of time, highlighting the need for effective partner treatment and repeat testing. The difference in organism load between prevalent and incident infections suggests prevalent infection may be more important for ongoing transmission of chlamydia.
Background. It is unknown whether sex and race influence clinical outcomes following primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection.
Methods. Data were evaluated from an observational, multicenter, primarily North American cohort of HIV-1 seroconverters.
Results. Of 2277 seroconverters, 5.4% were women. At enrollment, women averaged .40 log10 fewer copies/mL of HIV-1 RNA (P < .001) and 66 more CD4+ T cells/μL (P = .006) than men, controlling for age and race. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) was less likely to be initiated at any time point by nonwhite women and men compared to white men (P < .005), and by individuals from the southern United States compared to others (P = .047). Sex and race did not affect responses to ART after 6 months (P > .73). Women were 2.17-fold more likely than men to experience >1 HIV/AIDS-related event (P < .001). Nonwhite women were most likely to experience an HIV/AIDS-related event compared to all others (P = .035), after adjusting for intravenous drug use and ART. Eight years after diagnosis, >1 HIV/AIDS-related event had occurred in 78% of nonwhites and 37% of whites from the southern United States, and 24% of whites and 17% of nonwhites from other regions (P < .001).
Conclusions. Despite more favorable clinical parameters initially, female HIV-1-seroconverters had worse outcomes than did male seroconverters. Elevated morbidity was associated with being nonwhite and residing in the southern United States.
Adult male surgical circumcision (MC) has been shown to reduce HIV acquisition in men and is recommended by the WHO for inclusion in comprehensive national HIV prevention programs in high prevalence settings. Only limited research to date has been conducted in countries experiencing moderate burden epidemics, where the acceptability, operational feasibility and potential epidemiological impact of MC remain unclear.
A multi-method qualitative research study was conducted at four sites in Papua New Guinea (PNG), with 24 focus group discussions and 65 in-depth interviews carried out among 276 men.
The majority of men were in favour of MC being introduced for HIV prevention in PNG and considered improved genital hygiene, enhanced sexual pleasure and culturally appropriateness key factors in the acceptability of a future intervention. A minority of men were against the introduction of MC, primarily due to concerns regarding sexual risk compensation and that the intervention went against prevailing cultural and religious beliefs.
This is one of the first community-based MC acceptability studies conducted in a moderate prevalence setting outside of Africa. Research findings from this study suggest that a future MC program for HIV prevention would be widely accepted by men in PNG.
Acceptability; Male circumcision; Papua New Guinea; HIV prevention
It could be postulated that due to lifestyle factors, patients with poor antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence may also have risky sexual behaviour potentially leading to HIV transmission. There are limited data regarding unprotected sex risk and ART adherence in resource limited settings and our study set out to investigate these in an HIV clinic in Bangkok. Patients completed an anonymous questionnaire regarding their relationship details, ART adherence, sexual behaviour, alcohol and drug use and HIV transmission beliefs. Laboratory findings and medical history were also collected. Unprotected sex risk (USR) was defined as inconsistent condom use with a partner of negative or unknown HIV status. Five hundred and twelve patients completed the questionnaire. Fifty seven per cent of patients reported having taken ARV >95% of the time in the last month and 58% had been sexually active in the previous 30 days. Only 27 patients (5%) were classified as having USR in our cohort. Multivariate analysis showed USR was associated with female gender (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.2-7.0, p0.02) but not with adherence, age, type or number of partners, recreational drug or alcohol use nor beliefs about HIV transmission whilst taking ART. Levels of USR in this resource limited setting were reassuringly low and not associated with poor ART adherence; as all USR patients had undetectable viral loads onward HIV transmission risk is likely to be low but not negligible. Nonetheless condom negotiation techniques, particularly in women, may be useful in this group.
Adherence; Antiretroviral therapy (ART); HIV-1 infection; Unprotected sex risk; Thailand.