Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) in North Carolina (NC) have less time to conduct partner notification due to competing responsibilities while simultaneously facing increased case loads due to increased HIV testing. We developed a model to predict undiagnosed HIV infection in sexual partners to prioritize DIS interviews.
We abstracted demographic, behavioral, and partnership data from DIS records of HIV-infected persons reported in two NC surveillance regions between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007. Multiple logistic regression with generalized estimating equations was used to develop a predictive model and risk scores among newly diagnosed persons and their partners. Sensitivities and specificities of the risk scores at different cutoffs were used to examine algorithm performance.
Five factors predicted a partnership between a person with newly diagnosed HIV infection and an undiagnosed partner—four weeks or fewer between HIV diagnosis and DIS interview, no history of crack use, no anonymous sex, fewer total sexual partners reported to DIS, and sexual partnerships between an older index case and younger partner. Using this model, DIS could choose an appropriate cutoff for locating a particular partner by determining the weight of false negatives relative to false positives.
While the overall predictive power of the model is low, it is possible to reduce the number of partners that need to be located and interviewed while maintaining high sensitivity. If DIS continue to pursue all partners, the model would be useful in identifying partners in which to invest more resources for locating.
HIV; partner notification; modeling; decision
Many adults in the United States enter primary care late in the course of HIV infection, countering the clinical benefits of timely HIV services and missing opportunities for risk reduction. Our objective was to determine if perceived social support was associated with delay entering care after an HIV diagnosis. Two hundred sixteen patients receiving primary care at a large, university-based HIV outpatient clinic in North Carolina were included in the study. Dimensions of functional social support (emotional/informational, tangible, affectionate and positive social interaction) were quantified with a modified Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Scale and included in proportional hazard models to determine their effect on delays seeking care. The median delay between diagnosis and entry to primary care was 5.9 months. Levels of social support were high but only positive social interaction was moderately associated with delayed presentation in adjusted models. The effect of low perceived positive social interaction on the time to initiation of primary care differed by history of alcoholism (no history of alcoholism, hazard ratio (HR): 1.43, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.88, 2.34; history of alcoholism, HR: 0.71, 95% CI: 0.40, 1.28). Ensuring timely access to HIV care remains a challenge in the southeastern United States. Affectionate, tangible, and emotional/informational social support were not associated with the time from diagnosis to care. The presence of positive social interaction may be an important factor influencing care seeking behavior after diagnosis.
HIV infection; social support; time factors; delivery of health care; southeastern United States
A substantial proportion of patients treated for early syphilis have serofast nontreponemal titers after therapy. Serological cure at 6 months is associated with age, number of sexual partners, Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, and an interaction between syphilis stage and baseline nontreponemal titers.
Background. Syphilis management requires serological monitoring after therapy. We compared factors associated with serological response after treatment of early (ie, primary, secondary, or early latent) syphilis.
Methods. We performed secondary analyses of data from a prospective, randomized syphilis trial conducted in the United States and Madagascar. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–negative participants aged ≥18 years with early syphilis were enrolled from 2000–2009. Serological testing was performed at baseline and at 3 and 6 months after treatment. At 6 months, serological cure was defined as a negative rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test or a ≥4-fold decreased titer, and serofast status was defined as a ≤2-fold decreased titer or persistent titers that did not meet criteria for treatment failure.
Results. Data were available from 465 participants, of whom 369 (79%) achieved serological cure and 96 (21%) were serofast. In bivariate analysis, serological cure was associated with younger age, fewer sex partners, higher baseline RPR titers, and earlier syphilis stage (P ≤ .008). There was a less significant association with Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction after treatment (P = .08). Multivariate analysis revealed interactions between log-transformed baseline titer with syphilis stage, in which the likelihood of cure was associated with increased titers among participants with primary syphilis (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for 1 unit change in log2 titer, 1.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.25–2.70), secondary syphilis (AOR, 3.15; 95% CI, 2.14–4.65), and early latent syphilis (AOR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.44–2.40).
Conclusions. Serological cure at 6 months after early syphilis treatment is associated with age, number of sex partners, Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, and an interaction between syphilis stage and baseline RPR titer.
Persons with unrecognized HIV infection forgo timely clinical intervention and may unknowingly transmit HIV to partners. However, in the United States, unrecognized infection and late diagnosis are common. To understand barriers and facilitators to HIV testing and care, we conducted a qualitative study of 24 HIV infected persons attending a Southeastern HIV clinic who presented with clinically advanced illness. The primary barrier to HIV testing prior to diagnosis was perception of risk; consequently, most participants were diagnosed after the onset of clinical symptoms. While most patients were anxious to initiate care rapidly after diagnosis, some felt frustrated by the passive process of connecting to specialty care. The first visit with an HIV care provider was identified as critical in the coping process for many patients. Implications for the implementation of recent CDC HIV routine screening guidelines are discussed.
HIV Infection; Voluntary Counseling and Testing; Delivery of Health Care; Southeastern United States; Social Support
Herpes labialis is a common skin infective condition, worldwide, which is primarily caused by HSV-1. Recurrent episodes of herpes labialis, also known as cold sores, can be frequent, painful, long-lasting and disfiguring for infected patients. At present, there are two types of antivirals for the treatment of herpes labialis, topical and oral, which are available over the counter or as prescription-only. The aim of antiviral therapy is to block viral replication to enable shortening the duration of symptoms and to accelerate healing of the lesions associated with herpes labialis. This review examines the evidence for the effectiveness of current topical and oral antivirals in the management of recurrent episodes of herpes labialis. In most countries, oral antivirals for herpes labialis are available as prescription-only. However, in early 2010, the oral antiviral famciclovir was reclassified from prescription-only medicine to pharmacist-controlled status in New Zealand. The benefits and risks associated with moving an antiviral therapy for herpes labialis from prescription-only to pharmacist-controlled status are reviewed here, and the implications for patients, general physicians and pharmacists are considered.
Herpes labialis; Coldsores; Famciclovir; Aciclovir; Valaciclovir; HSV-1
Two previous studies of a herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) subunit vaccine containing glycoprotein D in HSV-discordant couples revealed 73% and 74% efficacy against genital disease in women who were negative for both HSV type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2 antibodies. Efficacy was not observed in men or HSV-1 seropositive women.
We conducted a randomized, double-blind efficacy field trial involving 8323 women 18 to 30 years of age who were negative for antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2. At months 0, 1, and 6, some subjects received the investigational vaccine, consisting of 20 μg of glycoprotein D from HSV-2 with alum and 3-O-deacylated monophosphoryl lipid A as an adjuvant; control subjects received the hepatitis A vaccine, at a dose of 720 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) units. The primary end point was occurrence of genital herpes disease due to either HSV-1 or HSV-2 from month 2 (1 month after dose 2) through month 20.
The HSV vaccine was associated with an increased risk of local reactions as compared with the control vaccine, and it elicited ELISA and neutralizing antibodies to HSV-2. Overall, the vaccine was not efficacious; vaccine efficacy was 20% (95% confidence interval [CI], −29 to 50) against genital herpes disease. However, efficacy against HSV-1 genital disease was 58% (95% CI, 12 to 80). Vaccine efficacy against HSV-1 infection (with or without disease) was 35% (95% CI, 13 to 52), but efficacy against HSV-2 infection was not observed (−8%; 95% CI, −59 to 26).
In a study population that was representative of the general population of HSV-1– and HSV-2–seronegative women, the investigational vaccine was effective in preventing HSV-1 genital disease and infection but not in preventing HSV-2 disease or infection. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00057330.)
A major challenge in mapping health data is protecting patient privacy while maintaining the spatial resolution necessary for spatial surveillance and outbreak identification. A new adaptive geomasking technique, referred to as the donut method, extends current methods of random displacement by ensuring a user-defined minimum level of geoprivacy. In donut method geomasking, each geocoded address is relocated in a random direction by at least a minimum distance, but less than a maximum distance. The authors compared the donut method with current methods of random perturbation and aggregation regarding measures of privacy protection and cluster detection performance by masking multiple disease field simulations under a range of parameters. Both the donut method and random perturbation performed better than aggregation in cluster detection measures. The performance of the donut method in geoprivacy measures was at least 42.7% higher and in cluster detection measures was less than 4.8% lower than that of random perturbation. Results show that the donut method provides a consistently higher level of privacy protection with a minimal decrease in cluster detection performance, especially in areas where the risk to individual geoprivacy is greatest.
cluster analysis; confidentiality; demography; epidemiologic methods; population surveillance; public health practice
Geomasking is used to provide privacy protection for individual address information while maintaining spatial resolution for mapping purposes. Donut geomasking and other random perturbation geomasking algorithms rely on the assumption of a homogeneously distributed population to calculate displacement distances, leading to possible under-protection of individuals when this condition is not met. Using household data from 2007, we evaluated the performance of donut geomasking in Orange County, North Carolina. We calculated the estimated k-anonymity for every household based on the assumption of uniform household distribution. We then determined the actual k-anonymity by revealing household locations contained in the county E911 database. Census block groups in mixed-use areas with high population distribution heterogeneity were the most likely to have privacy protection below selected criteria. For heterogeneous populations, we suggest tripling the minimum displacement area in the donut to protect privacy with a less than 1% error rate.
donut geomasking; confidentiality; k-anonymity; privacy protection; spatial resolution
Patients who participate in clinical trials may experience better clinical outcomes than patients who initiate similar therapy within clinical care (trial effect), but no published studies have evaluated a trial effect in HIV clinical trials.
To examine a trial effect we compared virologic suppression (VS) among patients who initiated HAART in a clinical trial versus in routine clinical care. VS was defined as a plasma HIV RNA ≤400 copies/ml at six months after HAART initiation and was assessed within strata of early (1996–99) or current (2000–06) HAART periods. Risk ratios (RR) were estimated using binomial models.
Of 738 persons initiating HAART, 30.6% were women, 61.7% were black, 30% initiated therapy in a clinical trial and 67% (n = 496) had an evaluable six month HIV RNA result. HAART regimens differed between the early and current periods (p<0.001); unboosted PI regimens (55.6%) were more common in the early and NNRTI regimens (46.4%) were more common in the current period. Overall, 78% (95%CI 74, 82%) of patients achieved VS and trial participants were 16% more likely to achieve VS (unadjusted RR 1.16, 95%CI 1.06, 1.27). Comparing trial to non-trial participants, VS differed by study period. In the early period, trial participants initiating HAART were significantly more likely to achieve VS than non-trial participants (adjusted RR 1.33; 95%CI 1.15, 1.54), but not in the current period (adjusted RR 0.98; 95%CI 0.87, 1.11).
A clear clinical trial effect on suppression of HIV replication was observed in the early HAART period but not in the current period.
We assessed agreement of reported gender of sex partners in 2 statewide HIV databases linked by client identifiers.
Counseling, testing, and referral (CTR) records on all men aged 18 to 30 years who tested newly positive for HIV in North Carolina between 2000 and 2005 were matched to data abstracted from partner counseling and referral services (PCRS) records. We compared client-reported gender of sex partners at the time of testing (CTR records) with those reported during postdiagnosis partner notification (PCRS records).
PCRS records appeared to be a more complete measure of the gender of sex partners. Of the 212 men who told their HIV test counselor that they had only had female sex partner or partners in their lifetime, 62 (29.2%) provided contact information for male sex partner(s) during partner notification.
During the test counseling risk assessment, many men did not fully report the gender of their sex partners; this suggests that CTR data may not fully capture clients’ risk behaviors.
We described young women in North Carolina (NC) who were pregnant at the time of diagnosis with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection to identify an at-risk population that could be targeted for increased HIV screening. We investigated the combined effect of partner counseling and referral services (PCRS) and comprehensive prenatal HIV screening.
We conducted a retrospective review of PCRS charts on young women newly diagnosed with HIV in NC between 2002 and 2005. We determined the prevalence of pregnancy in the study sample and conducted bivariate analyses to assess predictors of pregnancy at the time of HIV diagnosis, calculating prevalence ratios (PRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We analyzed results of partner notification efforts, including timing and stage of diagnosis of HIV-positive partners.
During the four-year period, 551 women aged 18–30 years were newly diagnosed with HIV; 30% were pregnant at the time of HIV diagnosis. Pregnant women were more likely to be Hispanic (PR=1.58, 95% CI 1.15, 2.17) and not report typical risk factors. Fourteen percent of pregnant women's partners had an undiagnosed infection compared with slightly more than 8% of nonpregnant women's partners (p<0.01).
Ethnic differences in co-diagnosis of pregnancy and HIV suggest that young Hispanic women may have differential access to and acceptance of routine HIV screening. Comprehensive prenatal screening combined with partner notification can be effective in reaching infected male partners who are undiagnosed.
Identifying and counseling individuals with Acute HIV Infection (AHI) offers a critical opportunity to avert preventable HIV transmission, however opportunities to recognize these individuals may be missed. We surveyed 32 adults diagnosed with AHI during voluntary HIV testing from 1/1/03 to 2/28/05 in publicly funded testing sites in NC to describe their clinical, social, and behavioral characteristics. Eighty-one percent of participants were men; 59% were African American. Seventy-five percent experienced symptoms consistent with acute retroviral syndrome; although 83% sought medical care for these symptoms, only 15% were appropriately diagnosed at that initial medical visit, suggesting opportunities to diagnose these individuals earlier were missed. Eighty-five percent of the men engaged in sex with men. More than 50% of the participants thought they were infected with HIV by a steady partner. This study yields important information to assist in identifying populations at risk for or infected with AHI and designing both primary and secondary prevention interventions.
Acute HIV Infection (AHI); North Carolina (NC); HIV/AHI screening; AHI Epidemiology; HIV Risk Factors
Methamphetamine (MA) is a new arrival to the Southeastern United States (US). Incidence of HIV is also increasing regionally, but data are limited regarding any association between this trend and MA use. We examined behavioral data from North Carolina (NC) residents newly diagnosed with HIV, collected by the Department of Health between 2000-2005.
Among 1,460 newly diagnosed HIV-positive young men, an increasing trend was seen from 2000-2005 in MA use (p = 0.01, total n = 20). In bivariate analyses, users of MA had significantly greater odds of reporting other substance use, including alcohol, powder or crack cocaine, marijuana, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy”). They were also more likely to have reported sexual activity while traveling outside NC; sex with anonymous partners; and previous HIV testing. In a predictive model, MA use had a negative association with nonwhite race, and strong positive associations with powder cocaine, “ecstasy,” or intravenous drug use and being a university student.
Similar to trends seen in more urban parts of the US, MA use among newly diagnosed, HIV-positive young men is increasing in NC. These data are among the first to demonstrate this relationship in a region with a burgeoning epidemic of MA use. Opportunities exist for MA-related HIV risk-reduction interventions whenever young men intersect the healthcare system.
HIV transmission; acute HIV infection; sexually transmitted infections; viral load; Southeastern United States
Transmitted drug resistance (TDR) limits antiretroviral options, complicating management of HIV-positive patients. HIV disproportionately affects the Southern United States (US), but available national estimates of TDR prevalence principally reflect large metropolitan centers outside this region.
The Duke/UNC Acute HIV Program has collected data on acute or recent HIV infections (ARHI) in North Carolina (NC) since 1998. Acute infections represent antibody-negative, RNA-positive subjects; recent infection was determined by history of HIV testing, or concordance between detuned ELISA and antibody avidity assays. Genotypic sequence data from the earliest collected pre-treatment plasma sample were analyzed with the Stanford HIV Database and screened for Surveillance Drug Resistance Mutations (SDRMs).
253 individuals with ARHI between 1998 and May 2007 had complete genotypic sequence data for analysis; 39.5% were acute infections, 78.7% were male, 64.8% were non-white, and 53.8% were men who have sex with men. The overall prevalence of TDR was 17.8%, with SDRMs for non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) in 9.5% of the cohort. Mutations for nucleos(t)ide RT inhibitors (NRTIs) were detected in 7.5%, and for protease inhibitors (PIs) in 3.2%. K103N was the most common mutation (7.5%). Thymidine analogue mutations were found in 4.7% of samples; the most common PI SDRM was L90M (2.4%). Dual-or triple-class antiretroviral resistance was rare, encountered in only six samples (2.4%).
The prevalence of TDR in NC is similar to estimates from US metropolitan areas. These findings have implications for initial regimen selection and secondary prevention efforts outside of large, metropolitan HIV epicenters.
HIV Infections/epidemiology; HIV Infections/transmission; North Carolina/epidemiology; Drug resistance, viral; Antiretroviral therapy, highly active
Persons with acute HIV infection contribute disproportionately to HIV transmission. Identification of these persons is a critical public health challenge. We developed targeted approaches to detect HIV RNA in persons with negative serological tests.
Persons undergoing publicly funded HIV testing in North Carolina between October, 2002 and April, 2005 were included in this cross-sectional study. We used logistic regression to develop targeted testing approaches. We also assessed simple approaches based on clinic type and geography. Algorithm development used persons with recent HIV infection, determined by a detuned ELISA. Validation used persons with acute HIV infection, identified with an HIV RNA pooling procedure.
Among 215,528 eligible persons, 232 persons had recent HIV infection and 44 acute HIV infection. A combination of five indicators (testing site, sexual preference, sex with a person with HIV infection, county HIV incidence, and race) identified 92% of recent infections when testing 50% of the population. In validation among persons with acute HIV infection, this indicator combination had sensitivities of 98% in years 1 & 2 and 88% in year 3. A simple combination of testing site and county performed nearly as well (Development (recent infections): Sensitivity = 95%; Validation (acute infections): Sensitivity = 86% in years 1 & 2; 81% in year 3; cutoff established for testing 50% of population.)
Acute HIV infection can be identified accurately using targeted testing. Simple approaches to identify the types of clinics and geographical areas where infections are concentrated may be logistically feasible and cost-efficient.
Objective. Genital herpes (GH) recurrences and viral shedding are more frequent in the first year after initial HSV-2 infection. The objective of this study was to provide the first evaluation of valacyclovir 1 g once daily compared to placebo in reducing viral shedding in subjects newly diagnosed with GH. Methods. 70 subjects were randomized to receive valacyclovir 1 g daily or placebo in a crossover design for 60 days with a 7-day washout period. A daily swab of the genital/anal-rectal area was self-collected for HSV-2 detection by PCR. Subjects attended the clinic for routine study visits and GH recurrence visits. Treatment differences were assessed using a nonparametric crossover analysis.
Results. 52 subjects had at least one PCR measurement in both treatment periods and comprised the primary efficacy population. Valacyclovir significantly reduced HSV-2 shedding during all days compared to placebo (mean 2.9% versus 13.5% of all days (P < .01), a 78% reduction). Valacyclovir significantly reduced subclinical HSV-2 shedding during all days compared to placebo (mean 2.4% versus 11.0% of all days (P < .01), a 78% reduction). However, 79% of subjects had no GH recurrences while receiving valacyclovir compared to 52% of subjects receiving placebo (P < .01). Conclusion. In this study, the frequency of total and subclinical HSV-2 shedding was greater than reported in earlier studies involving subjects with a history of symptomatic genital recurrences. Our study is the first to demonstrate a significant reduction in viral shedding with valacyclovir 1 g daily compared to placebo in a population of subjects newly diagnosed with HSV-2 infection.
Community-based testing may identify young adults in the general population with sexually transmitted chlamydial infection. To develop selective screening guidelines appropriate for community settings, the authors conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave III (April 2, 2001 – May 9, 2002).
Separately for women and men, we developed three predictive models using unconditional multiple logistic regression for survey data. To account for racial/ethnic disparity in prevalence, initial models included identical predictor characteristics plus information on 1) respondent’s race/ethnicity; or 2) respondent’s most recent partner’s race/ethnicity; or 3) no information on race/ethnicity.
C. trachomatis diagnosis was available for 10,928 (88.6%) of the sexually experienced respondents. A combination of five characteristics for women and six characteristics for men identified approximately 80% of infections while testing ≤50% of the population. Information regarding race/ethnicity dramatically affected algorithm performance.
Using race/ethnicity in any screening algorithm is problematic and controversial, but the model without race information missed many diagnoses in the minority groups. Universal screening in high prevalence regions and selective screening in low prevalence regions may be one method of reaching the affected populations while avoiding the stigma of guidelines incorporating race/ethnicity.
The APTIMA COMBO 2 assay, which detects and amplifies rRNA from Chlamydia trachomatis and/or Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is approved for use on ThinPrep liquid-based Pap test specimens. The objective was to determine the clinical utility of the APTIMA assays (APTIMA COMBO 2 assay, APTIMA CT assay for Chlamydia trachomatis, and APTIMA GC assay for Neisseria gonorrhoeae) for screening women during their annual Pap exam, using SurePath liquid-based Pap test specimens. Two cervical samples were collected from 1,615 females attending six clinical sites in North America. A cervical broom sample was processed for cytology, with the residuum aliquoted into an APTIMA specimen transfer kit tube. The second cervical swab sample was put into APTIMA specimen transport medium, and both samples were tested with each APTIMA assay on a direct sampling system. Using a subject-infected status that utilized cervical-swab specimen results from two APTIMA assays, the prevalence was 7.9% for Chlamydia trachomatis and 2.5% for N. gonorrhoeae. For the liquid-based Pap samples, the sensitivities, specificities, positive predictive values, and negative predictive values for Chlamydia trachomatis detection were 85.2%, 99.5%, 93.2%, and 98.7%, respectively, for the APTIMA COMBO 2 assay and 89.1%, 98.7%, 85.7%, and 99.1%, respectively, for the APTIMA CT assay. For N. gonorrhoeae detection, the values were 92.5%, 100%, 100%, and 99.8%, respectively, for the APTIMA COMBO 2 assay and 92.5%, 99.9%, 97.4%, and 99.8%, respectively, for the APTIMA GC assay. The high predictive values support the use of the assays with SurePath liquid-based Pap specimens processed with the APTIMA specimen transfer kit.
Trichomonas vaginalis infection in men is an important cause of nongonococcal urethritis. Effective detection of the parasite in men using culture requires examination of multiple specimens. We compared culture and PCR-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in urethral swabs, urine, and semen for T. vaginalis detection in male sexual partners of women with trichomoniasis identified by wet mount and culture. Trichomonads were detected by at least one positive test in 205/280 men (73.2%) who submitted at least one specimen for culture and PCR. Whereas InPouch TV culture detected only 46/205 cases (22.5%), PCR detected 201/205 (98.0%). Urethral swab cultures from men with urethritis were more likely to be positive with shorter incubation than specimens from men without urethritis. T. vaginalis was detected more often in men with wet-mount-positive partners. Even with a sensitive PCR assay, reliable detection of T. vaginalis in male partners required multiple specimens. The majority of male sexual partners in this study were infected, emphasizing the importance of partner evaluation and treatment.
OBJECTIVE: To identify social, behavioral and epidemiologic factors associated with HIV infection among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected black women residing in North Carolina. DESIGN: A case-control study conducted in August 2004 in North Carolina. METHODS: Cases were 18-40-year-old women with HIV infections diagnosed from 2003-2004. Controls were 18-40-yearold, HIV-negative heterosexually active women recruited from HIV testing sites. Five focus group discussions were also conducted with women not participating in the case-control study. RESULTS: Multivariate analyses of 31 cases and 101 controls showed that HIV-positive women were more likely to receive public assistance [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 7.3; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1, 26.0], to report a history of genital herpes infection (aOR 10.6; 95% CI 2.4, 47.2), and were less likely to have discussed a variety of sexual and behavioral issues relevant to risk of HIV infection with their male partners (aOR 0.6; 95% CI 0.4, 0.8). Focus group participants indicated that financial and social demands created competing challenges for making HIV prevention a priority. CONCLUSIONS: Inadequate communication between black women and their sexual partners may create barriers to sexual and behavioral risk reduction. A multidimensional approach that addresses both biological factors such as herpes infection and socioeconomic factors may be needed to reduce HIV transmission in this population.
Patients from five clinics in North and South Carolina who had lesions suggestive of primary or secondary syphilis were evaluated using molecular techniques that allow the differentiation of Treponema pallidum strains on the basis of two variable genes, tpr and arp. Lesion samples were screened for the presence of T. pallidum DNA using PCR for polA, which represents a segment of the polymerase I gene that is unique to the spirochete. Twenty-seven of 154 lesion samples were found to contain T. pallidum, 23 of which had typeable DNA. Seven molecular subtypes were found (10f, 12f, 13f, 14f, 14g, 15f, and 16f); one to four subtypes were identified at each clinic. Subtype 14f was found in 52% of the typeable specimens and was distributed in four of the five clinics. Subtype 16f was found in 22% of specimens and was concentrated at one clinic. Further data are needed to define the role of this technique in examining the epidemiology of syphilis.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health problem among young people and can lead to the spread of HIV. Previous studies have primarily addressed barriers to STD care for symptomatic patients. The purpose of our study was to identify perceptions about existing barriers to and ideal services for STDs, especially asymptomatic screening, among young people in a southeastern community.
Eight focus group discussions including 53 White, African American, and Latino youth (age 14–24) were conducted.
Perceived barriers to care included lack of knowledge of STDs and available services, cost, shame associated with seeking services, long clinic waiting times, discrimination, and urethral specimen collection methods. Perceived features of ideal STD services included locations close to familiar places, extended hours, and urine-based screening. Television was perceived as the most effective route of disseminating STD information.
Further research is warranted to evaluate improving convenience, efficiency, and privacy of existing services; adding urine-based screening and new services closer to neighborhoods; and using mass media to disseminate STD information as strategies to increase STD screening.
Trichomonas vaginalis infection is highly prevalent worldwide and is associated with poor birth outcomes and enhanced human immunodeficiency virus transmission. Traditional detection methods rely on microscopic examination of vaginal specimens (wet mount) and culture, which can be insensitive and time-consuming. More than 3,000 women attending two sexually transmitted disease clinics were enrolled in this cross-sectional study to evaluate urine-based PCR for detection of T. vaginalis using a combined reference standard of wet mount and culture from vaginal swab. The prevalence of trichomoniasis in the population was 16.7% (502 of 3,009 women) using the reference standard. PCR with urine combined with agarose gel-based detection was 66.9% sensitive and 98.3% specific compared to the reference standard. Detection of PCR products using an unlabeled enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) improved the sensitivity to 86.4%, but specificity fell to 86.1%. Using a digoxigenin-labeled ELISA for detection of amplified T. vaginalis DNA from urine, the sensitivity and specificity of the PCR improved to 90.8 and 93.4%, respectively, compared to wet mount or culture from vaginal swabs. For clinical research settings in which vaginal specimens are not available and culture conditions are not feasible, urine-based PCR-ELISA may be useful for the detection of trichomoniasis in women.