The study of HIV-infected “controllers” who are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) may provide insights for HIV cure and vaccine strategies. Despite maintaining very low levels of plasma viremia, controllers have elevated immune activation and accelerated atherosclerosis. However, the degree to which low-level replication contributes to these phenomena is not known. Sixteen asymptomatic controllers were prospectively treated with ART for 24 weeks. Controllers had a statistically significant decrease in ultrasensitive plasma and rectal HIV RNA levels with ART. Markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa also decreased substantially with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels below conventional assays (<40 copies/mL). These data confirm that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state. ART should be considered for these individuals (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01025427).
HIV-infected “controllers” are rare individuals who are HIV-seropositive but are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART). There has been intense interest in characterizing these unique individuals because they have been considered as a potential model for a “functional cure” of HIV. Previously, our group has shown that controllers have elevated levels of T cell activation and accelerated atherosclerosis, suggesting that very low levels of viral replication may lead to disproportionately high levels of immune activation. However, the degree to which viral replication contributes to these outcomes is not known. We therefore conducted the first, prospective study of ART initiation in a cohort of asymptomatic HIV-infected controllers, in order to determine the virologic and immunologic effects of treating controllers with ART. Controllers had a significant decreases in ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA, rectal HIV RNA, and markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with extremely low pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels (<40 copies/mL). These data suggest that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state.
Studies of the association between transportation barriers and HIV-related health outcomes have shown both positive and negative effects, possibly because a reliable, validated measure of transportation barriers has not been identified.
Prospective cohort study of HIV-infected patients in rural Uganda.
Participants were enrolled from the HIV clinic at the regional referral hospital in Mbarara, Uganda as part of the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes (UARTO) Study. We collected the following measures of transportation barriers to HIV clinic: global positioning systems (GPS)-tracked distance measured by driving participants to their homes along their typical route; straight-line GPS distance from clinic to home, calculated with the Great Circle Formula; self-reported travel time; and self-reported travel cost. We assessed inter-measure agreement using linear regression, correlation coefficients and κ statistics (by measure quartile) and validated measures by fitting linear regression models to estimate associations with days late for clinic visits.
One hundred and eighty-eight participants were tracked with GPS. Seventy-six percent were women, with a median age of 40 years and median CD4 cell count of 193 cells/μl. We found a high correlation between GPS-based distance measures (β = 0.74, P < 0.001, R2 = 0.92, k = 0.73), but little correlation between GPS-based and self-reported measures (all R2 ≤ 0.4). GPS-based measures were associated with days late to clinic (P < 0.001); but neither self-reported measure was associated (P > 0.85).
GPS-measured distance to clinic is associated with HIV clinic absenteeism and should be prioritized over self-reported measures to optimally risk-stratify patients accessing care in rural, resource-limited settings.
distance to clinic; global positioning systems; HIV/AIDS; linkage to care; sub-Saharan Africa; transportation; Uganda
The human gut mucosa is a major site of HIV infection and infection-associated pathogenesis. Increasing evidence shows that natural killer (NK) cells play an important role in control of HIV infection but the mechanism(s) by which they mediate antiviral activity in the gut is unclear. Here we show two distinct subsets of NK cells exist in the gut, one localized to intraepithelial spaces (IEL) and the other to the lamina propria (LP). The frequency of both subsets of NK cells was reduced in chronic infection, whereas IEL NK cells remained stable in spontaneous controllers with protective KIR/HLA genotypes. Both IEL and LP NK cells were significantly expanded in immunologic non-responsive (INR) patients, who incompletely recovered CD4+ T cells on HAART. These data suggest that both IEL and LP NK cells may expand in the gut in an effort to compensate for compromised CD4+ T cell recovery, but that only IEL NK cells may be involved in providing durable control of HIV in the gut,
Resting CD4+ T cells infected with HIV persist in the presence of suppressive anti-viral therapy (ART) and are barriers to a cure. One potential curative approach, therapeutic vaccination, is fueled by recognition of the ability of a subset of elite controllers (EC) to control virus without therapy due to robust anti-HIV immune responses. Controllers have low levels of integrated HIV DNA and low levels of replication competent virus, suggesting a small reservoir. As our recent data indicates some reservoir cells can produce HIV proteins (termed GPR cells for Gag-positive reservoir cells), we hypothesized that a fraction of HIV-expressing resting CD4+ T cells could be efficiently targeted and cleared in individuals who control HIV via anti-HIV cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). To test this we examined if superinfected resting CD4+ T cells from EC express HIV Gag without producing infectious virus and the susceptibility of these cells to CTL. We found that resting CD4+ T cells expressed HIV Gag and were cleared by autologous CD8+ T cells from EC. Importantly, we found the extent of CTL clearance in our in vitro assay correlates with in vivo reservoir size and that a population of Gag expressing resting CD4+ T cells exists in vivo in patients well controlled on therapy.
Depression is common among people living with HIV/AIDS and contributes to a wide range of worsened HIV-related outcomes, including AIDS-related mortality. Targeting modifiable causes of depression, either through primary or secondary prevention, may reduce suffering as well as improve HIV-related outcomes. Food insecurity is a pervasive source of uncertainty for those living in resource-limited settings, and cross-sectional studies have increasingly recognized it as a critical determinant of poor mental health. Using cohort data from 456 men and women living with HIV/AIDS initiating HIV antiretroviral therapy in rural Uganda, we sought to (a) estimate the association between food insecurity and depression symptom severity, (b) assess the extent to which social support may serve as a buffer against the adverse effects of food insecurity, and (c) determine whether the buffering effects are specific to certain types of social support. Quarterly data were collected by structured interviews and blood draws. The primary outcome was depression symptom severity, measured by a modified Hopkins Symptom Checklist for Depression. The primary explanatory variables were food insecurity, measured with the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, and social support, measured with a modified version of the Functional Social Support Questionnaire. We found that food insecurity was associated with depression symptom severity among women but not men, and that social support buffered the impacts of food insecurity on depression. We also found that instrumental support had a greater buffering influence than emotional social support. Interventions aimed at improving food security and strengthening instrumental social support may have synergistic beneficial effects on both mental health and HIV outcomes among PLWHA in resource-limited settings.
AIDS/HIV; international health; social support; food; food insecurity; depression; Uganda
APOBEC3 proteins mediate potent antiretroviral activity by hypermutating the retroviral genome during reverse transcription. To counteract APOBEC3 and gain a replicative advantage, lentiviruses such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) have evolved the Vif protein, which targets APOBEC3 proteins for proteasomal degradation. However, the proteasome plays a critical role in the generation of T cell peptide epitopes. Whether Vif-mediated destruction of APOBEC3 proteins leads to the generation and presentation of APOBEC3-derived T cell epitopes on the surfaces of lentivirus-infected cells remains unknown. Here, using peptides derived from multiple Vif-sensitive APOBEC3 proteins, we identified APOBEC3-specific T cell responses in both HIV-1-infected patients and SIV-infected rhesus macaques. These results raise the possibility that these T cell responses may be part of the larger antiretroviral immune response.
Although clinic-based cohorts are most representative of the “real world,” they are susceptible to loss to follow-up. Strategies for managing the impact of loss to follow-up are therefore needed to maximize the value of studies conducted in these cohorts. The authors evaluated adult patients starting antiretroviral therapy at an HIV/AIDS clinic in Uganda, where 29% of patients were lost to follow-up after 2 years (January 1, 2004–September 30, 2007). Unweighted, inverse probability of censoring weighted (IPCW), and sampling-based approaches (using supplemental data from a sample of lost patients subsequently tracked in the community) were used to identify the predictive value of sex on mortality. Directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) were used to explore the structural basis for bias in each approach. Among 3,628 patients, unweighted and IPCW analyses found men to have higher mortality than women, whereas the sampling-based approach did not. DAGs encoding knowledge about the data-generating process, including the fact that death is a cause of being classified as lost to follow-up in this setting, revealed “collider” bias in the unweighted and IPCW approaches. In a clinic-based cohort in Africa, unweighted and IPCW approaches—which rely on the “missing at random” assumption—yielded biased estimates. A sampling-based approach can in general strengthen epidemiologic analyses conducted in many clinic-based cohorts, including those examining other diseases.
Africa; antiretroviral therapy; clinic-based cohorts; directed acyclic graphs; informative censoring; inverse probability of censoring weights; loss to follow-up; missing at random
HIV-1 resistance testing was performed in 47 antiretroviral (ARV)-treated subjects with low-level viremia (LLV) of <1,000 copies/ml. The median viral load was 267 copies/ml. In those with ≥2 LLV episodes, 44% accumulated additional resistance mutations. Fewer active ARVs and longer elapsed time were associated with an increased risk of resistance accumulation after controlling for adherence and viral load. Virologic failure followed 16% of LLV time points. Strategies for early intervention after LLV episodes should be further studied.
HIV infection is associated with decreased thrombin generation and an increased antithrombin level. These data suggest that HIV infection may not be associated with an increased propensity towards clotting.
Background. Excess risk of cardiovascular disease occurs in effectively treated individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Although elevated plasma D-dimer levels are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, the impact of HIV infection on coagulation in vivo has not been well studied.
Methods. We measured D-dimers, antithrombin, endogenous thrombin potential (ETP; a functional measure of thrombin generation in vitro), thrombin/antithrombin complexes (TAT; a measure of thrombin generation in vivo), tissue factor, prothrombin fragment 1 + 2 (F1+2), and normalized APC sensitivity ratio (nAPCsr) in 199 HIV-positive men who were receiving antiretroviral therapy and had an undetectable HIV RNA level, in 79 HIV-positive untreated men, and in 39 uninfected controls.
Results. Median antithrombin levels were higher while the ETP was lower among HIV-infected adults (treated and untreated), compared with controls. There were few differences between coagulation markers in the 2 HIV groups. Compared with controls, the nAPCsr was lower in treated men and the TAT level was lower in untreated individuals. We observed little difference among measured levels of D-dimer, tissue factor, or F1+2 between HIV-infected individuals and controls. Antiretroviral therapy exposure was associated with a lower antithrombin level, a lower nAPCsr, and a lower ETP, while history of opportunistic infection was associated with a higher nAPCsr.
Conclusions. HIV infection is associated with decreased thrombin generation, as measured by the ETP, and an increased antithrombin level. These data suggest that HIV infection may not be associated with increased propensity toward clotting, as has been suggested on the basis of isolated measures of D-dimer levels.
Losses to follow-up after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) are common in Africa and are a considerable obstacle to understanding the effectiveness of nascent treatment programs. We sought to characterize, through a sampling-based approach, reasons for and outcomes of patients who become lost to follow-up.
We searched for and interviewed a representative sample of lost patients or close informants in the community to determine reasons for and outcomes among lost patients.
Three thousand six hundred twenty-eight HIV-infected adults initiated ART between January 1, 2004 and September 30, 2007 in Mbarara, Uganda. Eight hundred twenty-nine became lost to follow-up (cumulative incidence at 1, 2, and 3 years of 16%, 30%, and 39%). We sought a representative sample of 128 lost patients in the community and ascertained vital status in 111 (87%). Top reasons for loss included lack of transportation or money and work/child care responsibilities. Among the 111 lost patients who had their vital status ascertained through tracking, 32 deaths occurred (cumulative 1-year incidence 36%); mortality was highest shortly after the last clinic visit. Lower pre-ART CD4+ T-cell count, older age, low blood pressure, and a central nervous system syndrome at the last clinic visit predicted deaths. Of patients directly interviewed, 83% were in care at another clinic and 71% were still using ART.
Sociostructural factors are the primary reasons for loss to follow-up. Outcomes among the lost are heterogeneous: both deaths and transfers to other clinics were common. Tracking a sample of lost patients is an efficient means for programs to understand site-specific reasons for and outcomes among patients lost to follow-up.
Africa; antiretroviral scale-up; losses to follow-up; monitoring and evaluation; sampling studies
We undertook a longitudinal study in rural Uganda to understand the association of food insecurity with morbidity and patterns of healthcare utilization among HIV-infected individuals enrolled in an antiretroviral therapy program.
Longitudinal cohort study.
Participants were enrolled from the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes cohort, and underwent quarterly structured interviews and blood draws. The primary predictor was food insecurity measured by the validated Household Food Insecurity Access Scale. Primary outcomes included health-related quality of life measured by the validated Medical Outcomes Study-HIV Physical Health Summary (PHS), incident self-reported opportunistic infections, number of hospitalizations, and missed clinic visits. To estimate model parameters, we used the method of generalized estimating equations, adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical variables. Explanatory variables were lagged by 3 months to strengthen causal interpretations.
Beginning in May 2007, 458 persons were followed for a median of 2.07 years, and 40% were severely food insecure at baseline. Severe food insecurity was associated with worse PHS, opportunistic infections, and increased hospitalizations (results were similar in concurrent and lagged models). Mild/moderate food insecurity was associated with missed clinic visits in concurrent models, whereas in lagged models, severe food insecurity was associated with reduced odds of missed clinic visits.
Based on the negative impact of food insecurity on morbidity and patterns of healthcare utilization among HIV-infected individuals, policies and programs that address food insecurity should be a critical component of HIV treatment programs worldwide.
AIDS; food insecurity; healthcare utilization; HIV; morbidity; Uganda
David Bangsberg and colleagues explore the challenges and rewards of sharing research findings with participants living with HIV enrolled in observational research in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
Host genetic factors are thought to contribute to the interindividual differences in the control of HIV replication. The aim of the present investigation was to determine whether genes encoding GM and KM allotypes—genetic markers of immunoglobulin γ and κ chains, respectively—and those encoding Fcgamma receptor (FcγR) IIa and IIIa are associated with the host control of HIV replication. A case-control design was employed amongst HIV-infected subjects, with a group that spontaneously controlled HIV replication (“controllers”) as cases (n=73) and those who did not control replication, as controls (n=100). Genotyping was done by PCR-RFLP, direct DNA sequencing, and TaqMan® genotyping assays. In Caucasian Americans, certain combinations of FcγR and GM genotypes were differentially distributed between controllers and non-controllers. Among the non-carriers of FcγRIIa arginine allele, GM21 non-carriers had over seven-fold greater odds of being controllers than the carriers of this allele (OR=7.47). These GM determinants also interacted with FcγRIIIa alleles. Among the carriers of the FcγRIIIa valine allele, GM21 non-carriers had over three-fold greater odds of being controllers than the carriers of this allele (OR=3.26). These results show epistatic interactions of genes on chromosomes 14 (GM) and 1 (FcγR) in influencing the control of HIV replication.
GM allotypes; KM allotypes; FcγR; ADCC; HIV
Despite burgeoning scientific knowledge about Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), the etiologic agent of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), little is known about awareness of this virus in the general community. This is particularly the case for men who have sex with men (MSM), the group at greatest risk for infection.
The California Health Interview Survey was a random digit-dial survey of over 50,000 households. Men age 18–64 years who self-identified as gay or bisexual were subsequently re-contacted for a follow-up study of HIV-related knowledge and behavior in which they were asked if they had heard of KS and to describe the cause of KS.
Of 398 MSM interviewed, 73.0% (95% CI: 65.0% to 79.7%) had heard of KS. However, only 6.4% (95% CI: 4.4% to 9.2%) of participants correctly identified that KS is caused by KSHV or a virus other than HIV. Postgraduate education, urban residence, and concurrent HIV infection were all independently associated with greater awareness of the viral origin of KS.
Awareness of KSHV is very low overall among MSM and only somewhat higher, but still unacceptably low, among HIV-infected MSM. Significant efforts are needed to increase awareness of KSHV as a sexually transmitted infection in this subpopulation
men who have sex with men; homosexuality; male; Kaposi sarcoma; herpesvirus 8; human; herpesvirus; Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated; sampling studies
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are involved in the endothelium repair. Low circulating EPC levels are predictive of cardiovascular events in HIV-negative subjects. The impact of HIV infection on EPCs, and the role of EPCs in HIV-associated cardiovascular disease, is not known. We hypothesized that circulating EPCs would be inversely associated with carotid artery intima-media thickness (c-IMT) changes in HIV-infected subjects.
EPCs (CD34+/KDR+, CD133+/KDR+ and CD34+/CD133+/KDR+) were defined retrospectively by flow cytometry in cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells collected longitudinally from 66 chronic HIV-infected subjects and cross-sectionally from 50 at-risk HIV-negative subjects. The HIV-infected subjects participated in the Study of the Consequences of the Protease Inhibitor Era (SCOPE) cohort, were receiving antiretroviral therapy (59/66) and had two sequential measurements of c-IMT 1 year apart. Two distinct groups of HIV-infected subjects were identified a priori: rapid c-IMT progressors (subjects with rapid c-IMT progression, n=13, Δc-IMT>0.2 mm) and slow c-IMT progressors (subjects with slow or no c-IMT progression, n=53, Δc-IMT<0.2 mm).
Although cryopreservation reduced sensitivity of detection, EPC frequency in HIV-infected subjects was still significantly higher compared to at-risk HIV-negative subjects (CD34+/KDR+; P=0.01) and correlated positively with CD4+ T-cell count (CD34+/KDR+, r=0.27; P=0.03). No association was found between the change of EPC frequencies over time (ΔEPC) and Δc-IMT or between EPC frequencies and c-IMT or Δc-IMT.
The lack of an association between EPCs and c-IMT in our cohort does not support HIV-associated reductions in EPC frequency as a cause of accelerated atherosclerosis.
To examine long-term effects of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on kidney function, we evaluated the incidence and risk factors for chronic kidney disease (CKD) among ART-naive, HIV-infected adults and compared changes in estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR) before and after starting ART.
Multicenter observational cohort study of patients with at least one serum creatinine measurement before and after initiating ART. Cox proportional hazard models, and marginal structure models examined CKD risk factors; mixed-effects linear models examined eGFR slopes.
Three thousand, three hundred and twenty-nine patients met entry criteria, contributing 10 099 person-years of observation on ART. ART was associated with a significantly slower rate of eGFR decline (from −2.18 to −1.37 ml/min per 1.73 m2 per year; P = 0.02). The incidence of CKD defined by eGFR thresholds of 60, 45 and 30 ml/min per 1.73 m2 was 10.5, 3.4 and 1.6 per 1000 person-years, respectively. In adjusted analyses black race, hepatitis C coinfection, lower time-varying CD4 cell count and higher time-varying viral load on ART were associated with higher CKD risk, and the magnitude of these risks increased with more severe CKD. Tenofovir and a ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor (rPI) was also associated with higher CKD risk [hazard odds ratio for an eGFR threshold <60 ml/min per 1.73 m2: 3.35 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.40–8.02)], which developed in 5.7% of patients after 4 years of exposure to this regimen-type.
ART was associated with reduced CKD risk in association with CD4 cell restoration and plasma viral load suppression, despite an increased CKD risk that was associated with initial regimens that included tenofovir and rPI.
antiretroviral therapy; chronic kidney disease; tenofovir
HIV/AIDS and food insecurity are two of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, with each heightening the vulnerability to, and worsening the severity of, the other. Less research has focused on the social determinants of food insecurity in resource-limited settings, including social support and HIV-related stigma. In this study, we analyzed data from a cohort of 456 persons from the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes study, an ongoing prospective cohort of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) initiating HIV antiretroviral therapy in Mbarara, Uganda. Quarterly data were collected by structured interviews. The primary outcome, food insecurity, was measured with the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale. Key covariates of interest included social support, internalized HIV-related stigma, HIV-related enacted stigma, and disclosure of HIV serostatus. Severe food insecurity was highly prevalent overall (38%) and more prevalent among women than among men. Social support, HIV disclosure, and internalized HIV-related stigma were associated with food insecurity; these associations persisted after adjusting for household wealth, employment status, and other previously identified correlates of food insecurity. The adverse effects of internalized stigma persisted in a lagged specification, and the beneficial effect of social support further persisted after the inclusion of fixed effects. International organizations have increasingly advocated for addressing food insecurity as part of HIV/AIDS programming to improve morbidity and mortality. This study provides quantitative evidence on social determinants of food insecurity among PLWHA in resource-limited settings and suggests points of intervention. These findings also indicate that structural interventions to improve social support and/or decrease HIV-related stigma may also improve the food security of PLWHA.
Uganda; HIV/AIDS; international health; social support; stigma; food security
Many human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected individuals suffer from persistent immune activation. Chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation have been associated with an increased risk of age-related diseases even among patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy. The factors leading to immune activation are complex, but have been hypothesized to include persistent viral replication with cellular death as well as microbial translocation across the gastrointestinal tract. Both processes may trigger innate immune responses since many native molecules released from dying cells are similar in structure to pathogen associated molecular patterns. These damage associated molecular patterns include mitochondrial DNA and formylated peptides. We hypothesized that circulating mitochondrial nucleic acid could serve as a biomarker for HIV-associated cell death and drive innate immune activation in infected individuals. We developed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay for plasma mitochondrial DNA and validated it on normal blood donors. We then measured mitochondrial DNA levels in acute and chronic HIV infection. While the assay proved to be accurate with a robust dynamic range, we did not find a significant association between HIV disease status and circulating mitochondrial DNA. We did, however, observe a negative correlation between age and plasma mitochondrial DNA levels in individuals with well-controlled HIV.
To assess whether T cell activation independently predicts the extent of CD4+ T cell recovery and mortality in HIV-infected Ugandans initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Prospective cohort study
HIV-infected adults starting ART and achieving a plasma HIV RNA level (VL) <400 copies/ml by month 6 were sampled from the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes (UARTO) cohort in Mbarara, Uganda. CD4 count, VL, and the % activated (CD38+HLA-DR+) T cells were measured every 3 months.
Of 451 HIV-infected Ugandans starting ART, most were women (70%) with median pre-ART values: age, 34 years; CD4 count, 135 cells/mm3; and VL, 5.1 log10 copies/ml. Of these, 93% achieved a VL<400 c/ml by month 6 and were followed for a median of 24 months, with 8% lost to follow up at 3 years. Higher pre-ART CD8+ T cell activation was associated with diminished CD4 recovery after year 1, after adjustment for pre-ART CD4 count, VL, and gender (P=0.017). Thirty-four participants died, 15 after month 6. Each 10 percentage-point increase in activated CD8+ T cells at month 6 of suppressive ART was associated with a 1.6-fold increased hazard of subsequent death after adjusting for pre-therapy CD4 count (P=0.048).
Higher pre-ART CD8+ T cell activation independently predicts slower CD4+ T cell recovery and higher persistent CD8+ T cell activation during ART-mediated viral suppression independently predicts increased mortality among HIV-infected Ugandans. Novel therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing or reversing immune activation during ART are needed in this setting.
HIV; Uganda; Sub-Saharan Africa; T cell activation; Antiretroviral Therapy; Mortality
Although untreated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected patients maintaining undetectable plasma HIV RNA levels (elite controllers) have high HIV-specific immune responses, it is unclear whether they experience abnormal levels of T cell activation, potentially contributing to immunodeficiency.
We compared percentages of activated (CD38+HLA-DR+) T cells between 30 elite controllers, 47 HIV-uninfected individuals, 187 HIV-infected individuals with undetectable viremia receiving antiretroviral therapy (antiretroviral therapy suppressed), and 66 untreated HIV-infected individuals with detectable viremia. Because mucosal translocation of bacterial products may contribute to T cell activation in HIV infection, we also measured plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) levels.
Although the median CD4+ cell count in controllers was 727 cells/mm3, 3 (10%) had CD4+ cell counts <350 cells/mm3 and 2 (7%) had acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Controllers had higher CD4+ and CD8+ cell activation levels (P < .001 for both) than HIV-negative subjects and higher CD8+ cell activation levels than the antiretroviral therapy suppressed (P = .048). In controllers, higher CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation was associated with lower CD4+ cell counts (P = .009 and P = .047). Controllers had higher LPS levels than HIV-negative subjects (P < .001), and in controllers higher LPS level was associated with higher CD8+ T cell activation (P = .039).
HIV controllers have abnormally high T cell activation levels, which may contribute to progressive CD4+ T cell loss even without measurable viremia.
Background. Preventing unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV is an important component of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), yet few data exist on contraceptive use among women entering HIV care. Methods. This was a retrospective study of electronic medical records from the initial HIV clinic visits of 826 sexually active, nonpregnant, 18–49-year old women in southwestern Uganda in 2009. We examined whether contraceptive use was associated with HIV status disclosure to one's spouse. Results. The proportion reporting use of contraception was 27.8%. The most common method used was injectable hormones (51.7%), followed by condoms (29.6%), and oral contraceptives (8.7%). In multivariable analysis, the odds of contraceptive use were significantly higher among women reporting secondary education, higher income, three or more children, and younger age. There were no significant independent associations between contraceptive use and HIV status disclosure to spouse. Discussion. Contraceptive use among HIV-positive females enrolling into HIV care in southwestern Uganda was low. Our results suggest that increased emphasis should be given to increase the contraception uptake for all women especially those with lower education and income. HIV clinics may be prime sites for contraception education and service delivery integration.
Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an anti-inflammatory enzyme that maintains homeostasis during cellular stress. Given previous findings that shorter length variants of a HO-1 promoter-region GTn microsatellite polymorphism are associated with increased HO-1 expression in cell lines, we hypothesized that shorter variants would also be associated with increased levels of HO-1 expression, less inflammation, and lower levels of inflammation-associated viral replication in HIV-infected subjects. Healthy donors (n=20) with shorter GTn repeats had higher HO-1 mRNA transcript in peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (r= −0.38, p=0.05). The presence of fewer GTn repeats in subjects with untreated HIV disease was associated with higher HO-1 mRNA levels in peripheral blood (r= −0.41, p=0.02); similar observations were made in CD14+ monocytes from antiretroviral-treated subjects (r= −0.36, p=0.04). In African-Americans, but not Caucasians, greater GTn repeats were correlated with higher soluble CD14 (sCD14) levels during highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (r= 0.38, p=0.007) as well as higher mean viral load off-therapy (r= 0.24, p=0.04). These data demonstrate that the HO-1 GTn microsatellite polymorphism is associated with higher levels of HO-1 expression and that this pathway may have important effects on the association between inflammation and HIV replication.
Heme oxygenase-1; microsatellite; polymorphism; HIV; soluble CD14; monocytes
Purpose of the review
Given the recent availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings and the significant burden exacted by Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) in these areas, we reviewed data regarding the impact of ART on KS incidence. We summarized the sizeable literature in resource-rich settings as well emerging data from resource-limited regions. Importantly, we delineated ways impact can be defined, including a) individual patient-level effectiveness; b) population-level effectiveness; c) change in population-level incidence; and d) residual risk of KS.
In resource-rich settings, there are now ample data demonstrating beneficial individual patient-level and population-level effects of ART on KS incidence. There is, however, considerable variability between studies and important methodologic shortcomings. Data from resource-limited settings are much more limited; while they preliminarily indicate individual patient-level effectiveness, they do not yet provide insight on population-level effects.
ART has had a substantial impact on KS incidence in resource-rich settings, but more attention is needed on validly quantifying this effect in order to determine whether additional interventions are needed. Emerging data from resource-limited regions also suggests beneficial impact of ART on KS incidence, but — given the scope of KS in these settings — more data are needed to understand the breadth and magnitude of the effect.
Kaposi’s sarcoma; HIV/AIDS; incidence; antiretroviral therapy; resource-limited settings
More intensive risk reduction and adherence counseling is necessary for higher-risk PEP users. Without integration into HIV testing and partner services settings, PEP may make an individual impact but is unlikely to make a public health impact.
Background. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy proposes to scale-up post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Intensive risk reduction and adherence counseling appear to be effective but are resource intensive. Identifying simpler interventions that maximize the HIV prevention potential of PEP is critical.
Methods. A randomized noninferiority study comparing 2 (standard) or 5 (enhanced) risk reduction counseling sessions was performed. Adherence counseling was provided in the enhanced arm. We measured changes in unprotected sexual intercourse acts at 12 months, compared with baseline; HIV acquisition; and PEP adherence. Outcomes were stratified by degree of baseline risk.
Results. We enrolled 457 individuals reporting unprotected intercourse within 72 h with an HIV-infected or at-risk partner. Participants were 96% male and 71% white. There were 1.8 and 2.3 fewer unprotected sex acts in the standard and enhanced groups. The maximum potential risk difference, reflected by the upper bound of the 95% confidence interval, was 3.9 acts. The difference in the riskier subset may have been as many as 19.6 acts. The incidence of HIV seroconversion was 2.9% and 2.6% among persons randomized to standard and enhanced counseling, respectively, with a maximum potential difference of 3.4%. The absolute and maximal HIV seroconversion incidence was 9.9% and 20.4% greater in the riskier group randomized to standard, compared with enhanced, counseling. Adherence outcomes were similar, with noninferiority in the lower risk group and concerning differences among the higher-risk group.
Conclusions. Risk assessment is critical at PEP initiation. Standard counseling is only noninferior for individuals with lower baseline risk; thus, enhanced counseling should be targeted to individuals at higher risk.