34 million people worldwide were living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) by the end of 2010. Despite significant advances in antiretroviral therapy (ART), drug resistance remains a major deterrent to successful, enduring treatment. Unplanned interruptions in ART have negative effects on HIV treatment outcomes including increased morbidity and mortality, as well as development of drug resistance. Treatment interruptions due to political conflicts, not infrequent in resource-limited settings, result in disruptions in health care, infrastructure, or treatment facilities and patient displacement. Such circumstances are ideal bases for ART resistance development, however there is limited awareness of and data available on the association between political conflicts and the development of HIV drug resistance. In this review we identify and discuss this association and review how varying ART half-lives, genetic barriers, different HIV subtypes, and archived resistance can lead to lack of medication effectiveness upon post-conflict resumption of care. Optimized ART stopping strategies as well as infrastructural concerns and stable HIV treatment systems to ensure continuity of care and rapid resumption of care must be addressed in order to mitigate risks of HIV drug resistance development during and after political conflicts. Increased awareness of such associations by clinicians as well as politicians and stakeholders is essential.
Treatment Interruption; Unplanned; Resistance; Political Crises; NNRTI Tail
Despite increasing availability of HIV-1 testing, education, and methods to prevent transmission, Indian women and their children remain at risk of acquiring HIV. We assessed the sero-prevalence and awareness about HIV among pregnant women presenting to a private tertiary care hospital in South India.
Sero-prevalence was determined via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing, and questionnaires were analyzed using chi-square statistics and odds ratios to look for factors associated with HIV positivity.
A total of 7956 women who presented for antenatal care were interviewed. Fifty-one women of the 7235 women who underwent HIV testing (0.7%) were found to be HIV positive. Awareness of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV (64%), HIV transmission through breast milk (42%), and prevention of MTCT (13%) was low.
There is a need to educate South Indian women about HIV to give them information and the means to protect themselves and their unborn children from acquiring HIV.
HIV; sero-prevalence; awareness; pregnancy; antenatal; India
Despite a high prevalence of oncogenic human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer mortality, HPV vaccination is not currently available in Mali. Knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer in Mali, and thereby vaccine readiness, may be limited. Research staff visited homes in a radial pattern from a central location to recruit adolescent females and males aged 12–17 years and men and women aged ≥18 years (N = 51) in a peri-urban village of Bamako, Mali. Participants took part in structured interviews assessing knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to HPV, cervical cancer, and HPV vaccination. We found low levels of HPV and cervical cancer knowledge. While only 2.0% of respondents knew that HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), 100% said they would be willing to receive HPV vaccination and would like the HPV vaccine to be available in Mali. Moreover, 74.5% said they would vaccinate their child(ren) against HPV. Men were found to have significantly greater autonomy in the decision to vaccinate themselves than women and adolescents (p = 0.005), a potential barrier to be addressed by immunization campaigns. HPV vaccination would be highly acceptable if the vaccine became widely available in Bamako, Mali. This study demonstrates the need for a significant investment in health education if truly informed consent is to be obtained for HPV vaccination. Potential HPV vaccination campaigns should provide more information about HPV and the vaccine. Barriers to vaccination, including the significantly lower ability of the majority of the target population to autonomously decide to get vaccinated, must also be addressed in future HPV vaccine campaigns.
We studied 1163 sexually-active HIV-infected South African men and women in an urban primary care program to understand patterns of sexual behaviors and whether these behaviors differed by partner HIV status. Overall, 40% reported a HIV-positive partner and 60% a HIV-negative or status unknown partner; and 17.5% reported >2 sex acts in the last 2 weeks, 16.4% unprotected sex in the last 6 months, and 3.7% >1 sex partner in the last 6 months. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) was consistently associated with decreased sexual risk behaviors, as well as with reporting a HIV-negative or status unknown partner. The odds of sexual risk behaviors differed by sex; and were generally higher among participants reporting a HIV-positive partner, but continued among those with a HIV-negative or status unknown partner. These data support ART as a means of HIV prevention. Engaging in sexual risk behaviors primarily with HIV-positive partners was not widely practiced in this setting, emphasizing the need for couples-based prevention.
HIV; AIDS; South Africa; Sexual risk behavior; ART
The only successful HIV vaccine trial to date is the RV144 trial of the ALVAC/AIDSVAX vaccine in Thailand, which showed an overall incidence reduction of 31%. Most cases were prevented in the first year, suggesting a rapidly waning efficacy. Here, we predict the population level impact and cost-effectiveness of practical implementation of such a vaccine in a setting of a generalised epidemic with high HIV prevalence and incidence.
We used STDSIM, an established individual-based microsimulation model, tailored to a rural South African area with a well-functioning HIV treatment and care programme. We estimated the impact of a single round of mass vaccination for everybody aged 15–49, as well as 5-year and 2-year revaccination strategies for young adults (aged 15–29). We calculated proportion of new infections prevented, cost-effectiveness indicators, and budget impact estimates of combined ART and vaccination programmes.
A single round of mass vaccination with a RV144-like vaccine will have a limited impact, preventing only 9% or 5% of new infections after 10 years at 60% and 30% coverage levels, respectively. Revaccination strategies are highly cost-effective if vaccine prices can be kept below 150 US$/vaccine for 2-year revaccination strategies, and below 200 US$/vaccine for 5-year revaccination strategies. Net cost-savings through reduced need for HIV treatment and care occur when vaccine prices are kept below 75 US$/vaccine. These results are sensitive to alternative assumptions on the underlying sexual network, background prevention interventions, and individual’s propensity and consistency to participate in the vaccination campaign.
A modestly effective vaccine can be a cost-effective intervention in highly endemic settings. To predict the impact of vaccination strategies in other endemic situations, sufficient knowledge of the underlying sexual network, prevention and treatment interventions, and individual propensity and consistency to participate, is key. These issues are all best addressed in an individual-based microsimulation model.
HIV vaccine; Mathematical model; Microsimulation model; South Africa; Cost-effectiveness
The current study examines sexual behaviors among HIV-infected Indians in primary care, where access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has recently increased. Between January to April 2008, we assessed the sexual behaviors of 247 HIV-infected South Indians in care. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to determine predictors of being in a HIV-seroconcordant primary relationship, being sexually active, and reporting unprotected sex. Over three-fourths (80%) of participants were HAART-experienced. Among the 58% of participants who were currently in a seroconcordant relationship, one-third were serodiscordant when first tested for HIV. Approximately two-thirds (63.2%) of participants were sexually active; 9.0% reported unprotected sex. In the multivariable analyses, participants who were in a seroconcordant primary relationship were more likely to have children, use alcohol, report unprotected sex, and have been enrolled in care for >12 months. Sexually active participants were more likely to be on HAART, have a prior tuberculosis diagnosis, test Herpes simplex type 2 antibody seropositive, and have low general health perceptions. Participants who reported unprotected sex were more likely to be in a seroconcordant relationship, be childless, want to have a child, and use alcohol. We did not document an association between HAART and unprotected sex. Among HIV-infected Indians in primary care, predictors of unprotected sex included alcohol use and desire for children. Prevention interventions for Indian couples should integrate reproductive health and alcohol use counseling at entry into care.
HIV; AIDS; sexual behavior; HAART; India
Background: We examined correlates of infant morbidity and mortality within the first 3 months of life among HIV-exposed infants receiving post-exposure antiretroviral prophylaxis in South Africa. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of 848 mother–child dyads. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used. Results: The main causes of infant morbidity were gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. Morbidity was higher with infant HIV infection (HR: 2.61; 95% CI: 1.40–4.85; p = 0.002) and maternal plasma viral load (PVL) >100 000 copies ml−1 (HR: 1.87; 95% CI: 1.01–3.48; p = 0.048), and lower with maternal age <20 years (HR: 0.25; 95% CI: 0.07–0.88; p = 0.031). Mortality was higher with infant HIV infection (HR: 4.10; 95% CI: 1.18–14.31; p = 0.027) and maternal PVL >100 000 copies ml−1 (HR: 6.93; 95% CI: 1.64–29.26; p = 0.008). Infant feeding status did not influence the risk of morbidity nor mortality. Conclusions: Future interventions that minimize pediatric HIV infection and reduce maternal viremia, which are the main predictors of child health soon after birth, will impact positively on infant health outcomes.
South Africa; mother-to-child transmission; breast-feeding; infant HIV-1 infection; mortality; morbidity
With increasing calls for linking HIV-infected individuals to treatment and care via expanded testing, we examined socio-demographic and behavioral characteristics associated with HIV testing among men and women in Soweto, South Africa.
We conducted a cross-sectional household survey involving 1539 men and 1877 women as part of the community-randomized prevention trial Project ACCEPT/HPTN043 between July 2007-October 2007. Multivariable logistic regression models, stratified by sex, assessed factors associated with HIV testing, and then repeated testing.
Most women (64.8%) and 28.9% of men reported ever having been tested for HIV, among whom 57.9% reported repeated HIV testing. In multivariable analyses, youth and students had a lower odds of HIV testing. Men and women who had conversations about HIV/AIDS with increasing frequency and who had heard about antiretroviral therapy were more likely to report HIV testing, as well as repeated testing. Men who had ≥12 years of education and who were of high socio-economic status; and women who were married, who were of low socio-economic status, and who had children under their care had a higher odds of HIV testing. Women, older individuals, those with higher levels of education, married individuals, and those with children under their care had a higher odds of reporting repeated HIV testing. Uptake of HIV testing was not associated with condom use, having multiple sex partners, and HIV-related stigma.
Given the low uptake of HIV testing among men and youth, further targeted interventions could facilitate a test and treat strategy among urban South Africans.
HIV; AIDS; VCT; testing; Africa
In light of increasing access to highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) in sub-Saharan Africa, we conducted a longitudinal study to assess the impact of HAART on sexual risk behaviors among HIV-infected South Africans in urban and rural primary care clinics.
Prospective observational cohort study.
We conducted a cohort study at rural and urban primary care HIV clinics in South Africa consisting of 1544 men and 4719 women enrolled from 2003–2010, representing 19703 clinic visits. The primary outcomes were being sexually active, unprotected sex, and >1 sex partner and were evaluated at six monthly intervals. Generalized estimated equations assessed the impact of HAART on sexual risk behaviors.
Among 6263 HIV-infected men and women, over a third (37.2%) initiated HAART during study follow-up. In comparison to pre-HAART follow-up, visits while receiving HAART were associated with a decrease in those reporting being sexually active (AOR: 0.86 [95% CI: 0.78–0.95]). Unprotected sex and having >1 sex partner were reduced at visits following HAART initiation compared to pre-HAART visits (AOR: 0.40 [95% CI: 0.34–0.46] and AOR: 0.20 [95% CI: 0.14–0.29], respectively).
Sexual risk behavior significantly decreased following HAART initiation among HIV-infected South African men and women in primary care programs. The further expansion of antiretroviral treatment programs could enhance HIV prevention efforts in Africa.
South Africa; HAART; antiretroviral therapy; sexual behavior; HIV transmission; AIDS; HIV
Since November 2009, WHO recommends that adults infected with HIV should initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART) at CD4+ cell counts of ≤350 cells/µl rather than ≤200 cells/µl. South Africa decided to adopt this strategy for pregnant and TB co-infected patients only. We estimated the impact of fully adopting the new WHO guidelines on HIV epidemic dynamics and associated costs.
Methods and Finding
We used an established model of the transmission and control of HIV in specified sexual networks and healthcare settings. We quantified the model to represent Hlabisa subdistrict, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. We predicted the HIV epidemic dynamics, number on ART and program costs under the new guidelines relative to treating patients at ≤200 cells/µl for the next 30 years. During the first five years, the new WHO treatment guidelines require about 7% extra annual investments, whereas 28% more patients receive treatment. Furthermore, there will be a more profound impact on HIV incidence, leading to relatively less annual costs after seven years. The resulting cumulative net costs reach a break-even point after on average 16 years.
Our study strengthens the WHO recommendation of starting ART at ≤350 cells/µl for all HIV-infected patients. Apart from the benefits associated with many life-years saved, a modest frontloading appears to lead to net savings within a limited time-horizon. This finding is robust to alternative assumptions and foreseeable changes in ART prices and effectiveness. Therefore, South Africa should aim at rapidly expanding its healthcare infrastructure to fully embrace the new WHO guidelines.
We examine for the first time age-mixing in sexual relationships in a population with very high HIV incidence and prevalence in rural South Africa. The highest levels of age assortativity (the pairing of like with like) were casual partnerships reported by men, the lowest levels were spousal relationships reported by women. Given the age–sex distribution of HIV prevalence in this population, interventions to decrease age-gaps in spousal relationships may be effective in reducing HIV incidence.
As the number of HIV infections continues to surpass treatment capacity, new HIV prevention strategies are imperative. Beyond individual clinical benefits, by rendering an individual less infectious, expanding access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) could also have a larger public health impact of curbing new HIV infections. Recent guidelines have moved towards initiating HAART at higher CD4 cell counts, thus increasing the number of individuals in need of treatment. A new treatment strategy is wanting that can simultaneously curb the epidemic and provide necessary treatment to those most in need. A recent debate has centered on whether an expansion of free and universal treatment, regardless of CD4 cell count, could be a means of HIV prevention. In light of the growing access to HAART in resource-limited settings and increasing evidence suggesting the clinical and prevention benefits of initiating treatment at higher CD4 cell counts, it is conceivable that, in the future, HAART will be an integral part of both individual-level clinical treatment programs as well as public health-based HIV prevention interventions.
AIDS; antiretrovirals; highly active antiretroviral therapy; HIV; prevention; treatment
The convergence between the tuberculosis (TB) and HIV epidemics has led to studies investigating strategies for integrated HIV and TB care. We present the experiences of a cohort of 17 patients enrolled in the first integrated TB and HIV treatment pilot programme, conducted in Durban, South Africa, as a precursor to a pivotal trial to answer the question of when to start antiretroviral treatment (ART) in patients co-infected with HIV and TB. Patients’ experiences with integrated TB and HIV care can provide insight about the problems or benefits of introducing HIV treatment into existing TB care in resource-constrained settings, where stigma and discrimination are often pervasive and determining factors influencing treatment uptake and coverage. Individual interviews, focus group discussions, and observations were used to understand patients’ experiences with integrated TB and HIV treatment. The patients described incorporating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) into their daily routine as ‘easy’; however, the patients experienced difficulties with disclosing their HIV status. Non-disclosure to sexual partners may jeopardise safer-sex practices and enhance HIV transmission. Being on TB treatment created a safe space for all patients to conceal their HIV status from those to whom they did not wish to disclose. The data suggest that the context of directly observed therapy (DOT) for TB may have the added benefit of creating a safe space for introducing ART to patients who would benefit most from treatment initiation but who are not ready or prepared to disclose their HIV status to others.
antiretroviral therapy; co-infection; directly observed therapy; qualitative research; resource-poor settings; sexual behaviour; South Africa; treatment issues; tuberculosis
Sexual behaviours among HIV-positive male patients in Cambodia have not been fully evaluated.
The patterns of sexual behaviours and social factors were compared between married and single men.
A retrospective cross-sectional survey of 174 male HIV patients was undertaken during March 1999–June 2000 in Phnom Penh.
Many participants (61%) reported that they were unaware that their sexual behaviours may have put them at risk of HIV infection. Sexual behaviours included having sex with a sex worker (90%), multiple sexual partners (41%), and both of these behaviours (37%). Two-thirds (69%) reported using a condom when having sex with a sex worker. Condom use with multiple sexual partners was low (24%). A history of condom use with a sex worker was less likely to be reported among married men than single men (P = 0.008). Always using condoms with a sex worker did not differ between married men and single men. Social factors that influenced visiting a sex worker included invitation by a friend (88%), alcohol consumption (74%), and having extra spending money (72%). Multivariate analysis suggests that alcohol consumption (P = 0.008) and having extra spending money (P = 0.02) were strongly associated with visiting a sex worker.
In Cambodia, HIV-infected men frequently reported a history of using sex workers. Having multiple sex partners or using a sex worker and multiple sexual partners were not rare. Interventions should target men in settings where alcohol is consumed and to encourage married men to use condoms.
HIV; men; social factors
To describe sociodemographics, sexual risk behavior, and estimate HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Mumbai, India.
Eight hundred thirty-one MSM attending voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services at the Humsafar Trust, answered a behavioral questionnaire and consented for Venereal Disease Research Laboratory and HIV testing from January 2003 through December 2004. Multivariate logistic regression was performed for sociodemographics, sexual risk behavior, and STIs with HIV result as an outcome.
HIV prevalence among MSM was 12.5%. MSM who were illiterate [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.28; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08 to 4.84], married (AOR 2.70; 95% CI: 1,56 to 4.76), preferred male partners (AOR 4.68; 95% CI: 1.90 to 11.51), had partners of both genders (AOR 2.73; 95% CI: 1.03 to 7.23), presented with an STI (AOR 3.31; 95% CI: 1.96 to 5.61); or presented with a reactive venereal disease research laboratory test (AOR 4.92; 95% CI: 2.55 to 9.53) at their VCT visit were more likely to be HIV infected.
MSM accessing VCT services in Mumbai have a high risk of STI and HIV acquisition. Culturally appropriate interventions that focus on sexual risk behavior and promote condom use among MSM, particularly the bridge population of bisexual men, are needed to slow the urban Indian AIDS epidemic.
bisexual; homosexual; India; men who have sex with men; Mumbai; voluntary counseling and testing
The rapid HIV antibody test is the diagnostic tool of choice in low and middle-income countries. Previous evidence suggests that rapid HIV diagnostic tests may underperform in the field, failing to detect a substantial number of infections. A research study inadvertently discovered that a clinic rapid HIV testing process was failing to detect cases of established (high antibody titer) infection, exhibiting an estimated 68.7% sensitivity (95% CI [41.3%-89.0%]) over the course of the first three weeks of observation. The setting is a public service clinic that provides STI diagnosis and treatment in an impoverished, peri-urban community outside of Cape Town, South Africa.
The researchers and local health administrators collaborated to investigate the cause of the poor test performance and make necessary corrections. The clinic changed the brand of rapid test being used and later introduced quality improvement measures. Observations were made of the clinic staff as they administered rapid HIV tests to real patients. Estimated testing sensitivity was calculated as the number of rapid HIV test positive individuals detected by the clinic divided by this number plus the number of PCR positive, highly reactive 3rd generation ELISA patients identified among those who were rapid test negative at the clinic.
In the period of five months after the clinic made the switch of rapid HIV tests, estimated sensitivity improved to 93.5% (95% CI [86.5%-97.6%]), during which time observations of counselors administering tests at the clinic found poor adherence to the recommended testing protocol. Quality improvement measures were implemented and estimated sensitivity rose to 95.1% (95% CI [83.5%-99.4%]) during the final two months of full observation.
Poor testing procedure in the field can lead to exceedingly low levels of rapid HIV test sensitivity, making it imperative that stringent quality control measures are implemented where they do not already exist. Certain brands of rapid-testing kits may perform better than others when faced with sub-optimal use.
Miners in southern Africa experience incident rates of tuberculosis up to ten times greater than the general population. Migration to and from mines may be amplifying tuberculosis epidemics in the general population.
Migration to and from mineral mines contributes to HIV risks and associated tuberculosis incidence. Health and safety conditions within mines also promote the risk of silicosis (a tuberculosis risk factor) and transmission of tuberculosis bacilli in close quarters. In the context of migration, current tuberculosis prevention and treatment strategies often fail to provide sufficient continuity of care to ensure appropriate tuberculosis detection and treatment. Reports from Lesotho and South Africa suggest that miners pose transmission risks to other household or community members as they travel home undetected or inadequately treated, particularly with drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis. Reducing risky exposures on the mines, enhancing the continuity of primary care services, and improving the enforcement of occupational health codes may mitigate the harmful association between mineral mining activities and tuberculosis incidence among affected communities.
Tuberculosis incidence appears to be amplified by mineral mining operations in southern Africa. A number of immediately-available measures to improve continuity of care for miners, change recruitment and compensation practices, and reduce the primary risk of infection may critically mitigate the negative association between mineral mining and tuberculosis.