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1.  Evaluation of Dried Blood Spots Collected on Filter Papers from Three Manufacturers Stored at Ambient Temperature for Application in HIV-1 Drug Resistance Monitoring 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109060.
As more HIV-infected people gain access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), monitoring HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) becomes essential to combat both acquired and transmitted HIVDR. Studies have demonstrated dried blood spots (DBS) are a suitable alternative in HIVDR monitoring using DBS collected on Whatman 903 (W-903). In this study, we sought to evaluate two other commercially available filter papers, Ahlstrom 226 (A-226) and Munktell TFN (M-TFN), for HIVDR genotyping following ambient temperature storage. DBS were prepared from remnant blood specimens collected from 334 ART patients and stored at ambient temperature for a median time of 30 days. HIV-1 viral load was determined using NucliSENS EasyQ® HIV-1 v2.0 RUO test kits prior to genotyping of the protease and reverse transcriptase regions of the HIV-1 pol gene using an in-house assay. Among the DBS tested, 26 specimens had a viral load ≥1000 copies/mL in all three types of filter paper and were included in the genotyping analysis. Genotyping efficiencies were similar between DBS collected on W-903 (92.3%), A-226 (88.5%), and M-TFN (92.3%) filter papers (P = 1.00). We identified 50 DR-associated mutations in DBS collected on W-903, 33 in DBS collected on A-226, and 48 in DBS collected on M-TFN, resulting in mutation detection sensitivities of 66.0% for A-226 and 88.0% for M-TFN when compared to W-903. Our data indicate that differences among filter papers may exist at this storage condition and warrant further studies evaluating filter paper type for HIVDR monitoring.
PMCID: PMC4193826  PMID: 25303690
2.  Impact of Proficiency Testing Program for Laboratories Conducting Early Diagnosis of HIV-1 Infection in Infants in Low- to Middle-Income Countries 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(3):773-780.
A voluntary, cost-free external quality assessment (EQA) program established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was implemented to primarily monitor the performance of laboratories conducting HIV Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) from dried blood spots (DBS) in low- to middle-income countries since 2006. Ten blind DBS proficiency test (PT) specimens and 100 known HIV-positive and -negative DBS specimens (to be used as internal controls) were shipped triannually to participating laboratories with reports for the PT specimens due within 30 days. The participant's results and a summary of the performance of all participating laboratories and each diagnostic method were provided after each test cycle. Enrollment in the CDC PT program expanded progressively from 17 laboratories from 11 countries in 2006 to include 136 laboratories from 41 countries at the end of 2012. Despite external pressures to test and treat more children while expanding EID programs, mean PT test scores significantly improved over time as demonstrated by the upward trend from mid-2006 to the end of 2012 (P = 0.001) and the increase in the percentage of laboratories scoring 100% (P = 0.003). The mean test scores plateaued over the past 10 testing cycles, ranging between 98.2% and 99.7%, and discordant test results still occur but at a rate of no higher than 2.6%. Analysis of these test results suggests a positive impact of proficiency testing on the testing performance of the participating laboratories, and a continuous training program and proficiency testing participation may translate into laboratories improving their testing accuracy.
PMCID: PMC3957753  PMID: 24353004
3.  Simultaneous Detection of Major Drug Resistance Mutations in the Protease and Reverse Transcriptase Genes for HIV-1 Subtype C by Use of a Multiplex Allele-Specific Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(11):3666-3674.
High-throughput, sensitive, and cost-effective HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) detection assays are needed for large-scale monitoring of the emergence and transmission of HIVDR in resource-limited settings. Using suspension array technology, we have developed a multiplex allele-specific (MAS) assay that can simultaneously detect major HIVDR mutations at 20 loci. Forty-five allele-specific primers tagged with unique 24-base oligonucleotides at the 5′ end were designed to detect wild-type and mutant alleles at the 20 loci of HIV-1 subtype C. The MAS assay was first established and optimized with three plasmid templates (C-wt, C-mut1, and C-mut2) and then evaluated using 148 plasma specimens from HIV-1 subtype C-infected individuals. All the wild-type and mutant alleles were unequivocally distinguished with plasmid templates, and the limits of detection were 1.56% for K219Q and K219E, 3.13% for L76V, 6.25% for K65R, K70R, L74V, L100I, K103N, K103R, Q151M, Y181C, and I47V, and 12.5% for M41L, K101P, K101E, V106A, V106M, Y115F, M184V, Y188L, G190A, V32I, I47A, I84V, and L90M. Analyses of 148 plasma specimens revealed that the MAS assay gave 100% concordance with conventional sequencing at eight loci and >95% (range, 95.21% to 99.32%) concordance at the remaining 12 loci. The differences observed were caused mainly by 24 additional low-abundance alleles detected by the MAS assay. Ultradeep sequencing analysis confirmed 15 of the 16 low-abundance alleles. This multiplex, sensitive, and straightforward result-reporting assay represents a new efficient genotyping tool for HIVDR surveillance and monitoring.
PMCID: PMC3889749  PMID: 23985909
4.  Molecular Characterization of Ambiguous Mutations in HIV-1 Polymerase Gene: Implications for Monitoring HIV Infection Status and Drug Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77649.
Detection of recent HIV infections is a prerequisite for reliable estimations of transmitted HIV drug resistance (t-HIVDR) and incidence. However, accurately identifying recent HIV infection is challenging due partially to the limitations of current serological tests. Ambiguous nucleotides are newly emerged mutations in quasispecies, and accumulate by time of viral infection. We utilized ambiguous mutations to establish a measurement for detecting recent HIV infection and monitoring early HIVDR development. Ambiguous nucleotides were extracted from HIV-1 pol-gene sequences in the datasets of recent (HIVDR threshold surveys [HIVDR-TS] in 7 countries; n=416) and established infections (1 HIVDR monitoring survey at baseline; n=271). An ambiguous mutation index of 2.04×10-3 nts/site was detected in HIV-1 recent infections which is equivalent to the HIV-1 substitution rate (2×10-3 nts/site/year) reported before. However, significantly higher index (14.41×10-3 nts/site) was revealed with established infections. Using this substitution rate, 75.2% subjects in HIVDR-TS with the exception of the Vietnam dataset and 3.3% those in HIVDR-baseline were classified as recent infection within one year. We also calculated mutation scores at amino acid level at HIVDR sites based on ambiguous or fitted mutations. The overall mutation scores caused by ambiguous mutations increased (0.54×10-23.48×10-2/DR-site) whereas those caused by fitted mutations remained stable (7.50-7.89×10-2/DR-site) in both recent and established infections, indicating that t-HIVDR exists in drug-naïve populations regardless of infection status in which new HIVDR continues to emerge. Our findings suggest that characterization of ambiguous mutations in HIV may serve as an additional tool to differentiate recent from established infections and to monitor HIVDR emergence.
PMCID: PMC3798419  PMID: 24147046
5.  Evaluation of Quantification of HIV-1 RNA Viral Load in Plasma and Dried Blood Spots by Use of the Semiautomated Cobas Amplicor Assay and the Fully Automated Cobas Ampliprep/TaqMan Assay, Version 2.0, in Kisumu, Kenya 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(4):1208-1218.
In Kenya, HIV-1 viral load monitoring is commonly performed with the Cobas Amplicor using plasma specimens. Interest is growing in transitioning to real-time PCR (RT-PCR), such as the Cobas Ampliprep/Cobas TaqMan (CAP/CTM), using dried blood spots (DBS). Before implementation, direct evaluation of the two assays using DBS field specimens is required. This study compares the sensitivity, specificity, negative and positive predictive values (NPV and PPV, respectively), concordance, and agreement between HIV-1 viral load measurements using plasma and DBS specimens obtained from 512 HIV-1-infected pregnant females enrolled in the Kisumu Breastfeeding Study and tested with the Cobas Amplicor and CAP/CTM assays. The sensitivity and NPV of viral load detection in DBS specimens were higher with CAP/CTM (sensitivity, 100%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 99.1 to 100.0%; NPV, 100%; 95% CI, 59.0 to 100.0%) than the Cobas Amplicor (sensitivity, 96.6%; 95% CI, 94.3 to 98.1%; NPV, 58.8%; 95% CI, 40.7 to 75.4%). The PPVs were comparable between both assays when using DBS. The specificity of viral load detection in DBS specimens was lower with CAP/CTM (77.8%; 95% CI, 40.0 to 97.2%) than that of the Cobas Amplicor (95.2%; 95% CI, 76.2 to 99.9%). Good concordance and agreement were observed when paired plasma and DBS specimens were tested with both assays. Lower specificity with the CAP/CTM is likely due to proviral HIV-1 DNA amplification and lower detection limits with RT-PCR. However, the CAP/CTM has better sensitivity and higher throughput than the Cobas Amplicor. These findings suggest that DBS may be a suitable alternative to plasma when using RT-PCR, which could increase access to viral load monitoring in resource-limited settings.
PMCID: PMC3666812  PMID: 23390278
6.  Field Evaluation of a Broadly Sensitive HIV-1 In-House Genotyping Assay for Use with both Plasma and Dried Blood Spot Specimens in a Resource-Limited Country 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(2):529-539.
HIV-1 drug resistance (HIVDR) assays are important tools in clinical management of HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and surveillance of drug-resistant variants at population levels. The high cost associated with commercial assays hinders their use in resource-limited settings. We adopted and validated a low-cost in-house assay using 68 matched plasma and dried blood spot (DBS) samples with a median viral load (VL) of 58,187 copies/ml, ranging from 253 to 3,264,850 against the commercial assay ViroSeq. Results indicated that the in-house assay not only had a higher plasma genotyping rate than did ViroSeq (94% versus 78%) but also was able to genotype 89.5% (51/57) of the matched DBS samples with VLs of ≥1,000 copies/ml. The sensitivity in detecting DR mutations by the in-house assay was 98.29% (95% confidence interval [CI], 97.86 to 98.72) on plasma and 96.54 (95% CI, 95.93 to 97.15) on DBS, and the specificity was 99.97% (95% CI, 99.91 to 100.00) for both sample types compared to ViroSeq. The minor DR mutation differences detected by the in-house assay against ViroSeq did not result in clinical significance. In addition, cost analysis showed that the in-house assay could reduce the genotyping cost by about 60% for both plasma and DBS compared to ViroSeq. This field condition evaluation highlights the potential utility of a cost-effective, subtype-independent, in-house genotyping assay using both plasma and DBS specimens for HIVDR clinical monitoring and population-based surveillance in resource-limited settings.
PMCID: PMC3553877  PMID: 23224100
7.  Comparison of Ahlstrom Grade 226, Munktell TFN, and Whatman 903 Filter Papers for Dried Blood Spot Specimen Collection and Subsequent HIV-1 Load and Drug Resistance Genotyping Analysis 
Dried blood spots (DBS) collected onto filter paper have eased the difficulty of blood collection in resource-limited settings. Currently, Whatman 903 (W-903) filter paper is the only filter paper that has been used for HIV load and HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) testing. We therefore evaluated two additional commercially available filter papers, Ahlstrom grade 226 (A-226) and Munktell TFN (M-TFN), for viral load (VL) testing and HIVDR genotyping using W-903 filter paper as a comparison group. DBS specimens were generated from 344 adult patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Botswana. The VL was measured with NucliSENS EasyQ HIV-1 v2.0, and genotyping was performed for those specimens with a detectable VL (≥2.90 log10 copies/ml) using an in-house method. Bland-Altman analysis revealed a strong concordance in quantitative VL analysis between W-903 and A-226 (bias = −0.034 ± 0.246 log10 copies/ml [mean difference ± standard deviation]) and W-903 and M-TFN (bias = −0.028 ± 0.186 log10 copies/ml) filter papers, while qualitative VL analysis for virological failure determination, defined as a VL of ≥3.00 log10 copies/ml, showed low sensitivities for A-266 (71.54%) and M-TFN (65.71%) filter papers compared to W-903 filter paper. DBS collected on M-TFN filter paper had the highest genotyping efficiency (100%) compared to W-903 and A-226 filter papers (91.7%) and appeared more sensitive in detecting major HIVDR mutations. DBS collected on A-226 and M-TFN filter papers performed similarly to DBS collected on W-903 filter paper for quantitative VL analysis and HIVDR detection. Together, the encouraging genotyping results and the variability observed in determining virological failure from this small pilot study warrant further investigation of A-226 and M-TFN filter papers as specimen collection devices for HIVDR monitoring surveys.
PMCID: PMC3536251  PMID: 23077127
8.  Breast-feeding and Transmission of HIV-1 
Breast-feeding substantially increases the risk of HIV-1 transmission from mother to child, and although peripartum antiretroviral therapy prophylaxis significantly decreases the risk of mother-to-child transmission around the time of delivery, this approach does not affect breast-feeding transmission. Increased maternal RNA viral load in plasma and breast milk is strongly associated with increased risk of transmission through breast-feeding, as is breast health, and it has been suggested that exclusive breast-feeding could be associated with lower rates of breast-feeding transmission than mixed feeding of both breast- and other milk or feeds. Transmission through breast-feeding can take place at any point during lactation, and the cumulative probability of acquisition of infection increases with duration of breast-feeding. HIV-1 has been detected in breast milk in cell-free and cellular compartments; infant gut mucosal surfaces are the most likely site at which transmission occurs. Innate and acquired immune factors may act most effectively in combination to prevent primary HIV-1 infection by breast milk.
PMCID: PMC3382106  PMID: 14722454
breastfeeding; mother-to-child transmission; postnatal transmission; risk factors; mechanisms
9.  Laboratory Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Resource-Poor Countries: Challenges and Opportunities 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2011;24(2):314-350.
Summary: With an estimated 9.4 million new cases globally, tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a major public health concern. Eighty percent of all cases worldwide occur in 22 high-burden, mainly resource-poor settings. This devastating impact of tuberculosis on vulnerable populations is also driven by its deadly synergy with HIV. Therefore, building capacity and enhancing universal access to rapid and accurate laboratory diagnostics are necessary to control TB and HIV-TB coinfections in resource-limited countries. The present review describes several new and established methods as well as the issues and challenges associated with implementing quality tuberculosis laboratory services in such countries. Recently, the WHO has endorsed some of these novel methods, and they have been made available at discounted prices for procurement by the public health sector of high-burden countries. In addition, international and national laboratory partners and donors are currently evaluating other new diagnostics that will allow further and more rapid testing in point-of-care settings. While some techniques are simple, others have complex requirements, and therefore, it is important to carefully determine how to link these new tests and incorporate them within a country's national diagnostic algorithm. Finally, the successful implementation of these methods is dependent on key partnerships in the international laboratory community and ensuring that adequate quality assurance programs are inherent in each country's laboratory network.
PMCID: PMC3122496  PMID: 21482728
10.  A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Proficiency Testing Program for the HIV-1 BED Incidence Assay▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(10):3470-3473.
The HIV-1 BED incidence assay was developed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and since 2005 has been available as a commercial kit for use in HIV-1 incidence surveillance. A BED-specific proficiency testing (PT) program was initiated in 2006 that included a panel of eight coded specimens (six unique and two duplicates) to participating laboratories. The number of participating laboratories increased from 12 to 38 from 2006 to 2009. Overall, 96.1% of the laboratories reported results, and 95.4% of those reporting achieved a 100% score. The observed mean normalized optical density (OD-n) values of all participants correlated well with the expected OD-n values for all specimens (R2 = 0.98) used for seven PT rounds. BED testing demonstrated high reproducibility among all laboratories, with an agreement of 99.3% (574/578) between initial and confirmatory classification and regression statistics of R2 = 0.96, slope = 1.022, and intercept = 0.0066. Reproducibility among duplicate specimens was very high during each PT round, with mean deviation of 1.8%. Analysis of controls and calibrator specimen for all 343 runs showed a coefficient of variation of ca. 20% for raw ODs in the dynamic range, which was reduced to <10% when the OD was normalized (OD-n). Most laboratories that failed the PT assessment had transcriptional errors, kit reagent problems, or specimen handling errors. Thus, the BED-specific PT program enabled us to track performance of different laboratories conducting the BED assay while identifying areas for improvements. This program will also serve as a template for future PT programs for new incidence assays as they become available.
PMCID: PMC3187299  PMID: 21832016
11.  Detection of Recent HIV-1 Infection Using a New Limiting-Antigen Avidity Assay: Potential for HIV-1 Incidence Estimates and Avidity Maturation Studies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33328.
Accurate and reliable laboratory methods are needed for estimation of HIV-1 incidence to identify the high-risk populations and target and monitor prevention efforts. We previously described a single-well limiting-antigen avidity enzyme immunoassay (LAg-Avidity EIA) to detect recent HIV-1 infection.
We describe here further optimization and characterization of LAg-Avidity EIA, comparing it to the BED assay and a two-well avidity-index (AI) EIA. Specimen sets included longitudinal sera (n = 393), collected from 89 seroconverting individuals from 4 cohorts representing 4 HIV-1 subtypes, and sera from AIDS patients (n = 488) with or without TB co-infections from 3 different cohorts. Ninety seven HIV-1 positive specimens were purchased commercially. The BED assay, LAg-Avidity EIA, AI-EIA and HIV serology were performed, as needed.
Monitoring quality control specimens indicated high reproducibility of the LAg-Avidity EIA with coefficient of variation of <10% in the dynamic range. The LAg-Avidity EIA has an overall mean duration of recency (ω) of 141 days (95% CI 119–160) at normalized optical density (ODn) cutoff of 1.0, with similar ω in different HIV-1 subtypes and populations (132 to 143 days). Antibody avidity kinetics were similar among individuals and subtypes by both the LAg-Avidity EIA and AI-EIA compared to the HIV-IgG levels measured by the BED assay. The false recent rate among individuals with AIDS was 0.2% with the LAg-Avidity EIA, compared to 2.9% with the BED assay. Western blot profiles of specimens with increasing avidity confirm accurate detection of recent HIV-1 infections.
These data demonstrate that the LAg-Avidity EIA is a promising assay with consistent ω in different populations and subtypes. The assay should be very useful for 1) estimating HIV-1 incidence in cross-sectional specimens as part of HIV surveillance, 2) identifying risk factors for recent infections, 3) measuring impact of prevention programs, and 4) studying avidity maturation during vaccine trials.
PMCID: PMC3314002  PMID: 22479384
12.  Comparison of HIV-1 resistance profiles in plasma RNA versus PBMC DNA in heavily treated patients in Honduras, a resource-limited country 
The World Health Organization currently does not recommend the use of dried blood spot specimens for drug resistance testing in patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART). Therefore, HIV-1 resistance testing using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) may be of value in resource-limited settings. We compared genotypic resistance profiles in plasma and PBMCs from patients failing ART in two cities of Honduras (Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula), a resource-limited country. One hundred patients failing ART were randomly selected from a longitudinal patient monitoring cohort. Plasma and PBMC samples without patient identifier were used for genotypic resistance testing. Sequence data were analyzed, resistance profiles were determined and compared using Stanford HIV Drug Resistance Database algorithm. Specimens with concordant resistance profiles between the two compartments were 88% (95% CI: 80.3% - 94.5 %). Nine specimens (12%, 95% CI: 6.5% - 21.3%) had discordant resistance profiles of clinical significance. Logistic regression analyses indicated that patients on triple therapy were 17.24 times more likely to have concordant drug resistance profile than those on non-triple therapies (OR=17.24, 95% CI: 3.48, 83.33), while patients with increasing number of regimens and years on ART have a decreased rate of concordance (OR = 0.59, 95% CI: 0.32, 1.09 and OR = 0.62, 95% CI: 0.43, 0.88), respectively, than those with less number of regimens and years on ART. Our results show high level of concordance between plasma and PBMC resistance profiles, indicating the possibility of using PBMCs for drug resistance testing in resources-limited settings.
PMCID: PMC3316452  PMID: 22493752
HIV-1 drug resistance; RNA; PBMCs; concordance; discordance; resistance profile; resource-limited setting
13.  HIV testing in developing countries: What is required? 
HIV diagnostic and follow up testing are usually done in laboratory settings. However, in developing countries there is a need to decentralize testing as the majority of the population lives in rural settings. In developing countries stringent quality assurance (QA) practices, which include appropriate training, development of standard operating procedures, maintenance of operator proficiency, routine use of quality control (QC) specimens, standardized data management, equipment calibration and maintenance, and biohazard safety with proper disinfection/disposal procedures are not routinely followed to ensure reliability of results and a safe work environment. The introduction of point-of-care testing technologies involving the use of non-laboratorians in routine testing has further increased the complexity of QA. Therefore, a careful approach towards improvement of laboratories that encourages best practices, coupled with incentives, and review of government policies in point-of-care testing is needed to improve quality of testing as decentralization takes place. Development of a functional laboratory tiered network that facilitates communication, referral, training and problem solving could further enhance confidence in laboratory testing. There is also a need for special considerations in implementing a step-wise approach towards quality improvement, strengthening of the supply chain management, human capacity development, infrastructure upgrade, and strong public private partnerships to ensure long term sustainability of these efforts.
PMCID: PMC3284089  PMID: 22310813
Accreditation; developing countries; diagnostics; HIV; point of care testing; quality control; rapid tests
14.  Optimization of a Low Cost and Broadly Sensitive Genotyping Assay for HIV-1 Drug Resistance Surveillance and Monitoring in Resource-Limited Settings 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e28184.
Commercially available HIV-1 drug resistance (HIVDR) genotyping assays are expensive and have limitations in detecting non-B subtypes and circulating recombinant forms that are co-circulating in resource-limited settings (RLS). This study aimed to optimize a low cost and broadly sensitive in-house assay in detecting HIVDR mutations in the protease (PR) and reverse transcriptase (RT) regions of pol gene. The overall plasma genotyping sensitivity was 95.8% (N = 96). Compared to the original in-house assay and two commercially available genotyping systems, TRUGENE® and ViroSeq®, the optimized in-house assay showed a nucleotide sequence concordance of 99.3%, 99.6% and 99.1%, respectively. The optimized in-house assay was more sensitive in detecting mixture bases than the original in-house (N = 87, P<0.001) and TRUGENE® and ViroSeq® assays. When the optimized in-house assay was applied to genotype samples collected for HIVDR surveys (N = 230), all 72 (100%) plasma and 69 (95.8%) of the matched dried blood spots (DBS) in the Vietnam transmitted HIVDR survey were genotyped and nucleotide sequence concordance was 98.8%; Testing of treatment-experienced patient plasmas with viral load (VL) ≥ and <3 log10 copies/ml from the Nigeria and Malawi surveys yielded 100% (N = 46) and 78.6% (N = 14) genotyping rates, respectively. Furthermore, all 18 matched DBS stored at room temperature from the Nigeria survey were genotyped. Phylogenetic analysis of the 236 sequences revealed that 43.6% were CRF01_AE, 25.9% subtype C, 13.1% CRF02_AG, 5.1% subtype G, 4.2% subtype B, 2.5% subtype A, 2.1% each subtype F and unclassifiable, 0.4% each CRF06_CPX, CRF07_BC and CRF09_CPX.
The optimized in-house assay is broadly sensitive in genotyping HIV-1 group M viral strains and more sensitive than the original in-house, TRUGENE® and ViroSeq® in detecting mixed viral populations. The broad sensitivity and substantial reagent cost saving make this assay more accessible for RLS where HIVDR surveillance is recommended to minimize the development and transmission of HIVDR.
PMCID: PMC3223235  PMID: 22132237
15.  Population-Based Biochemistry, Immunologic and Hematological Reference Values for Adolescents and Young Adults in a Rural Population in Western Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21040.
There is need for locally-derived age-specific clinical laboratory reference ranges of healthy Africans in sub-Saharan Africa. Reference values from North American and European populations are being used for African subjects despite previous studies showing significant differences. Our aim was to establish clinical laboratory reference values for African adolescents and young adults that can be used in clinical trials and for patient management.
Methods and Findings
A panel of 298, HIV-seronegative individuals aged 13–34 years was randomly selected from participants in two population-based cross-sectional surveys assessing HIV prevalence and other sexually transmitted infections in western Kenya. The adolescent (<18 years)-to-adults (≥18 years) ratio and the male-to-female ratio was 1∶1. Median and 95% reference ranges were calculated for immunohematological and biochemistry values. Compared with U.S-derived reference ranges, we detected lower hemoglobin (HB), hematocrit (HCT), red blood cells (RBC), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), neutrophil, glucose, and blood urea nitrogen values but elevated eosinophil and total bilirubin values. Significant gender variation was observed in hematological parameters in addition to T-bilirubin and creatinine indices in all age groups, AST in the younger and neutrophil, platelet and CD4 indices among the older age group. Age variation was also observed, mainly in hematological parameters among males. Applying U.S. NIH Division of AIDS (DAIDS) toxicity grading to our results, 40% of otherwise healthy study participants were classified as having an abnormal laboratory parameter (grade 1–4) which would exclude them from participating in clinical trials.
Hematological and biochemistry reference values from African population differ from those derived from a North American population, showing the need to develop region-specific reference values. Our data also show variations in hematological indices between adolescent and adult males which should be considered when developing reference ranges. This study provides the first locally-derived clinical laboratory reference ranges for adolescents and young adults in western Kenya.
PMCID: PMC3119664  PMID: 21713038
16.  HIV-1 Drug Resistance Emergence among Breastfeeding Infants Born to HIV-Infected Mothers during a Single-Arm Trial of Triple-Antiretroviral Prophylaxis for Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission: A Secondary Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000430.
Analysis of a substudy of the Kisumu breastfeeding trial by Clement Zeh and colleagues reveals the emergence of HIV drug resistance in HIV-positive infants born to HIV-infected mothers treated with antiretroviral drugs.
Nevirapine and lamivudine given to mothers are transmitted to infants via breastfeeding in quantities sufficient to have biologic effects on the virus; this may lead to an increased risk of a breastfed infant's development of resistance to maternal antiretrovirals. The Kisumu Breastfeeding Study (KiBS), a single-arm open-label prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) trial, assessed the safety and efficacy of zidovudine, lamivudine, and either nevirapine or nelfinavir given to HIV-infected women from 34 wk gestation through 6 mo of breastfeeding. Here, we present findings from a KiBS trial secondary analysis that evaluated the emergence of maternal ARV-associated resistance among 32 HIV-infected breastfed infants.
Methods and Findings
All infants in the cohort were tested for HIV infection using DNA PCR at multiple study visits during the 24 mo of the study, and plasma RNA viral load for all HIV-PCR–positive infants was evaluated retrospectively. Specimens from mothers and infants with viral load >1,000 copies/ml were tested for HIV drug resistance mutations. Overall, 32 infants were HIV infected by 24 mo of age, and of this group, 24 (75%) infants were HIV infected by 6 mo of age. Of the 24 infants infected by 6 mo, nine were born to mothers on a nelfinavir-based regimen, whereas the remaining 15 were born to mothers on a nevirapine-based regimen. All infants were also given single-dose nevirapine within 48 hours of birth. We detected genotypic resistance mutations in none of eight infants who were HIV-PCR positive by 2 wk of age (specimens from six infants were not amplifiable), for 30% (6/20) at 6 wk, 63% (14/22) positive at 14 wk, and 67% (16/24) at 6 mo post partum. Among the 16 infants with resistance mutations by 6 mo post partum, the common mutations were M184V and K103N, conferring resistance to lamivudine and nevirapine, respectively. Genotypic resistance was detected among 9/9 (100%) and 7/15 (47%) infected infants whose mothers were on nelfinavir and nevirapine, respectively. No mutations were detected among the eight infants infected after the breastfeeding period (age 6 mo).
Emergence of HIV drug resistance mutations in HIV-infected infants occurred between 2 wk and 6 mo post partum, most likely because of exposure to maternal ARV drugs through breast milk. Our findings may impact the choice of regimen for ARV treatment of HIV-infected breastfeeding mothers and their infected infants.
Trial Registration NCT00146380
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Globally, more than 2 million children are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and half a million children are newly infected every year. These infections are mainly the result of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or through breastfeeding. MTCT can be greatly reduced by treating HIV-positive mothers and their babies with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). Without ARVs, up to half of babies born to HIV-positive mothers become infected with HIV. This rate of transmission falls to below 5% if a combination of three ARVs is given to the mother throughout pregnancy. Unfortunately, this triple-ARV therapy is too expensive for use in the resource-limited countries where most MTCT occurs. Instead, many such countries have introduced simpler, shorter ARV regimens such as a daily dose of zidovudine (a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or NRTI) given to HIV-positive women during late pregnancy coupled with single-dose nevirapine (a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or NNRTI) at the onset of labor, zidovudine and lamivudine (another NRTI) during labor and delivery, and single-dose nevirapine given to the baby at birth.
Why Was This Study Done?
More than 95% of HIV-exposed children are born in resource-limited settings where breastfeeding is the norm and is crucial for child survival even though it poses a risk of HIV transmission. Consequently, several recent studies have investigated whether MTCT can be further reduced by giving the mother ARVs while she is breastfeeding. In the Kisumu Breastfeeding Study (KiBS), for example, researchers assessed the effects of giving zidovudine, lamivudine, and either nevirapine or nelfinavir (a protease inhibitor) to HIV-infected women from 34 weeks of pregnancy through 6 months of breastfeeding. The results of KiBS indicate that this approach might be a safe, feasible way to reduce MTCT (see the accompanying paper by Thomas and colleagues). However, low amounts of nevirapine and lamivudine are transferred from mother to infant in breast milk and this exposure to ARVs could induce the development of resistance to ARVs among HIV-infected infants. In this KiBS substudy, the researchers investigate whether HIV drug resistance emerged in any of the HIV-positive infants in the parent study.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In KiBS, 32 infants were HIV-positive at 24 months old; 24 were HIV-positive at 6 months old when their mothers stopped taking ARVs and when breastfeeding was supposed to stop. The researchers analyzed blood samples taken from these infants at various ages and from their mothers for the presence of HIV drug resistance mutations (DNA changes that make HIV resistant to killing by ARVs). They detected no resistance mutations in samples taken from 2-week old HIV-positive infants or from the infants who became infected after the age of 6 months. However, they found resistance mutations in a third and two-thirds of samples taken from 6-week and 6-month old HIV-positive infants, respectively. The commonest mutations conferred resistance to lamivudine and nevirapine. Moreover, resistance mutations were present in samples taken from all the HIV-positive infants whose mothers who had received nelfinavir but in only half those taken from infants whose mothers who had received nevirapine. Finally, most of the mothers of HIV-positive infants had no HIV drug resistance mutations, and only one mother-infant pair had an overlapping pattern of HIV drug resistance mutations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in this KiBS substudy, the emergence of HIV drug resistance mutations in HIV-infected infants whose mothers were receiving ARVs occurred between 2 weeks and 6 months after birth. The pattern of mutations suggests that drug resistance most likely arose through exposure of the infants to low levels of ARVs in breast milk rather than through MTCT of drug-resistant virus. These findings need confirming but suggest that infants exposed to ARVs through breast milk—a situation that may become increasingly common given the reduction in MTCT seen in KiBS and other similar trials—should be carefully monitored for HIV infection. Providers should consider the mothers' regimen when choosing treatment for infants who are found to be HIV-infected despite maternal triple drug prophylaxis. Infants exposed to a maternal regimen with NNRTI drugs should receive first-line therapy with lopinavir/ritonavir, a protease inhibitor. The significance of the NRTI mutations such as M184V with regard to response to therapy needs further evaluation. The M184V mutation may result in hypersensitization to other NRTI drugs and delay or reverse zidovudine resistance. Given the limited availability of alternative drugs for infants in resource-limited settings, provision of the standard WHO-recommended first-line NRTI backbone, which includes 3TC, with enhanced monitoring of the infant to ensure virologic suppression, could be considered. Such an approach should reduce both illness and morbidity among infants who become HIV positive through breastfeeding.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000430.
The accompanying PLoS Medicine Research article by Thomas and colleagues describes the primary findings of the Kisumu Breastfeeding Study
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on children, HIV, and AIDS and on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (in English and Spanish)
UNICEF also has information about children and HIV and AIDS (in several languages)
The World Health organization has information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV (in several languages), and guidance on the use of ARVs for preventing MTCT
PMCID: PMC3066134  PMID: 21468304
17.  Development and Application of a Broadly Sensitive Dried-Blood-Spot-Based Genotyping Assay for Global Surveillance of HIV-1 Drug Resistance ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(9):3158-3164.
As antiretroviral therapy (ART) is scaled up in resource-limited countries, surveillance for HIV drug resistance (DR) is vital to ensure sustained effectiveness of first-line ART. We have developed and applied a broadly sensitive dried-blood-spot (DBS)-based genotyping assay for surveillance of HIV-1 DR in international settings. In 2005 and 2006, 171 DBS samples were collected under field conditions from newly diagnosed HIV-1-infected individuals from Malawi (n = 58), Tanzania (n = 60), and China (n =53). In addition, 30 DBS and 40 plasma specimens collected from ART patients in China and Cameroon, respectively, were also tested. Of the 171 DBS analyzed at the protease and RT regions, 149 (87.1%) could be genotyped, including 49 (81.7%) from Tanzania, 47 (88.7%) from China, and 53 (91.4%) from Malawi. Among the 70 ART patient samples analyzed, 100% (30/30) of the Chinese DBS and 90% (36/40) of the Cameroonian plasma specimens were genotyped, including 8 samples with a viral load of <400 copies/ml. The results of phylogenetic analyses indicated that the subtype, circulating recombinant form (CRF), and unique recombinant form (URF) distribution was as follows: 73 strains were subtype C (34%), 37 were subtype B (17.2%), 24 each were CRF01_AE or CRF02_AG (11.2% each), 22 were subtype A1 (10.2%), and 9 were unclassifiable (UC) (4.2%). The remaining samples were minor strains comprised of 6 that were CRF07_BC (2.8%), 5 that were CRF10_CD (2.3%), 3 each that were URF_A1C and CRF08_BC (1.4%), 2 each that were G, URF_BC, and URF_D/UC (0.9%), and 1 each that were subtype F1, subtype F2, and URF_A1D (0.5%). Our results indicate that this broadly sensitive genotyping assay can be used to genotype DBS collected from areas with diverse HIV-1 group M subtypes and CRFs. Thus, the assay is likely to become a useful screening tool in the global resistance surveillance and monitoring of HIV-1 where multiple subtypes and CRFs are found.
PMCID: PMC2937690  PMID: 20660209
18.  Low CD4+ T Cell Counts among African HIV-1 Infected Subjects with Group B KIR Haplotypes in the Absence of Specific Inhibitory KIR Ligands 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17043.
Natural killer (NK) cells are regulated by interactions between polymorphic killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and human leukocyte antigens (HLA). Genotypic combinations of KIR3DS1/L1 and HLA Bw4-80I were previously shown to influence HIV-1 disease progression, however other KIR genes have not been well studied. In this study, we analyzed the influence of all activating and inhibitory KIR, in association with the known HLA inhibitory KIR ligands, on markers of disease progression in a West African population of therapy-naïve HIV-1 infected subjects. We observed a significant association between carriage of a group B KIR haplotype and lower CD4+ T cell counts, with an additional effect for KIR3DS1 within the frame of this haplotype. In contrast, we found that individuals carrying genes for the inhibitory KIR ligands HLA-Bw4 as well as HLA-C1 showed significantly higher CD4+ T cell counts. These associations were independent from the viral load and from individual HIV-1 protective HLA alleles. Our data suggest that group B KIR haplotypes and lack of specific inhibitory KIR ligand genes, genotypes considered to favor NK cell activation, are predictive of HIV-1 disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3038936  PMID: 21347267
19.  Strengthening public health surveillance and response using the health systems strengthening agenda in developing countries 
BMC Public Health  2010;10(Suppl 1):S5.
There is increased interest in strengthening health systems for developing countries. However, at present, there is common uncertainty about how to accomplish this task. Specifically, several nations are faced with an immense challenge of revamping an entire system. To accomplish this, it is essential to first identify the components of the system that require modification. The World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed health system building blocks, which are now widely recognized as essential components of health systems strengthening.
With increased travel and urbanization, the threat of emerging diseases of pandemic potential is increasing alongside endemic diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and hepatitis virus infections. At the same time, the epidemiologic patterns are shifting, giving rise to a concurrent increase in disease burden due to non-communicable diseases. These diseases can be addressed by public health surveillance and response systems that are operated by competent public health workers in core public health positions at national and sub-national levels with a focus on disease prevention.
We describe two ways that health ministries in developing countries could leverage President Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) to build public health surveillance and response systems using proven models for public health systems strengthening and to create the public health workforce to operate those systems. We also offer suggestions for how health ministries could strengthen public health systems within the broad health systems strengthening agenda. Existing programs (e.g., the Global Vaccine Alliance [GAVI] and the Global Fund Against Tuberculosis, AIDS, and Malaria [GFTAM]) can also adapt their current health systems strengthening programs to build sustainable public health systems.
PMCID: PMC3005577  PMID: 21143827
20.  A Call for Randomized Controlled Trials of Antiretroviral Therapy for HIV-2 Infection in West Africa 
AIDS (London, England)  2008;22(16):2069-2074.
PMCID: PMC2635911  PMID: 18832869
HIV-2; Africa; Resource-Limited; Controlled Trial; ARV
21.  African AIDS Vaccine Programme for a Coordinated and Collaborative Vaccine Development Effort on the Continent 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e236.
The African AIDS Vaccine Programme, formed in 2000, is a network of African HIV vaccine stakeholders, led by Africans across the continent, with a vision of an African continent without AIDS.
PMCID: PMC2592353  PMID: 19053171
22.  Field Evaluation of the gag-Based Heteroduplex Mobility Assay for Genetic Subtyping of Circulating Recombinant Forms of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(7):3056-3059.
The gag-based heteroduplex mobility assay (gag-HMA) was evaluated for its ease and reliability in subtyping circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in Côte d'Ivoire. One hundred thirty-two plasma samples were analyzed blindly for HIV-1 subtypes by sequencing the pol gene and by gag-HMA. DNA sequencing was used as the “gold standard.” Of the 132 samples sequenced, 108 (82%) were CRF02_AG, 14 (11%) were pure subtype A, 5 (4%) were subtype G, 3 (2%) were subtype D, 1 was CRF01_AE, and 1 was subtype H. The gag-HMA correctly classified 126 (95.5%) of the samples. Of the 108 samples that were classified as CRF02_AG by DNA sequencing, 107 (99%) were correctly identified by gag-HMA, resulting in a positive predictive value of 96.4%. The gag-HMA seems to be a valuable tool for understanding the molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 CRF02_AG in Côte d'Ivoire and West Africa, which could be important for developing and evaluating AIDS vaccines, although DNA sequencing remains necessary for accurate molecular epidemiology.
PMCID: PMC165334  PMID: 12843043
23.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Group M Protease in Cameroon: Genetic Diversity and Protease Inhibitor Mutational Features 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(3):837-845.
To establish a baseline for monitoring resistance to protease inhibitors (PIs) and examining the efficacy of their use among persons in Cameroon infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), we analyzed genetic variability and PI resistance-associated substitutions in PCR-amplified protease (PR) sequences in strains isolated from 110 HIV-1-infected, drug-naïve Cameroonians. Of the 110 strains, 85 were classified into six HIV-1 PR subtypes, A (n = 1), B (n = 1), F (n = 4), G (n = 7), H (n = 1), and J (n = 7), and a circulating recombinant form, CRF02-AG (n = 64). PR genes from the remaining 25 (23%) specimens were unclassifiable, whereas 2% (7 of 301) unclassifiable PR sequences were reported for a global collection. Two major PI resistance-associated mutations, 20M and 24I, were detected in strains from only two specimens, whereas secondary mutations were found in strains from all samples except one strain of subtype B and two strains of CRF02-AG. The secondary mutations showed the typical PI resistance-associated pattern for non-subtype B viruses in both classifiable and unclassifiable PR genes, with 36I being the predominant (99%) mutation, followed by 63P (18%), 20R (15%), 77I (13%), and 10I or 10V (11%). Of these mutations, dual and triple PI resistance-associated substitutions were found in 38% of all the Cameroonian strains. Compared with classifiable PR sequences, unclassifiable sequences had significantly more dual and triple substitutions (64% versus 30%; P = 0.004). Phenotypic and clinical evaluations are needed to estimate whether PI resistance during antiretroviral drug treatment occurs more rapidly in individuals infected with HIV-1 strains harboring multiple PI resistance-associated substitutions. This information may be important for determination of appropriate drug therapies for HIV-1-infected persons in Cameroon, where more than one-third of HIV-1 strains were found to carry dual and triple minor PI resistance-associated mutations.
PMCID: PMC120267  PMID: 11880402
24.  Sensitivity and Specificity of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Rapid Serologic Assays and Testing Algorithms in an Antenatal Clinic in Abidjan, Ivory Coast 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(5):1808-1812.
To evaluate serologic testing algorithms for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) based on a combination of rapid assays among persons with HIV-1 (non-B subtypes) infection, HIV-2 infection, and HIV-1–HIV-2 dual infections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, a total of 1,216 sera with known HIV serologic status were used to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of four rapid assays: Determine HIV-1/2, Capillus HIV-1/HIV-2, HIV-SPOT, and Genie II HIV-1/HIV-2. Two serum panels obtained from patients recently infected with HIV-1 subtypes B and non-B were also included. Based on sensitivity and specificity, three of the four rapid assays were evaluated prospectively in parallel (serum samples tested by two simultaneous rapid assays) and serial (serum samples tested by two consecutive rapid assays) testing algorithms. All assays were 100% sensitive, and specificities ranged from 99.4 to 100%. In the prospective evaluation, both the parallel and serial algorithms were 100% sensitive and specific. Our results suggest that rapid assays have high sensitivity and specificity and, when used in parallel or serial testing algorithms, yield results similar to those of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay-based testing strategies. HIV serodiagnosis based on rapid assays may be a valuable alternative in implementing HIV prevention and surveillance programs in areas where sophisticated laboratories are difficult to establish.
PMCID: PMC88030  PMID: 11325995
25.  Evaluation of United States-Licensed Human Immunodeficiency Virus Immunoassays for Detection of Group M Viral Variants 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(3):1017-1020.
Six Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-licensed human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and HIV-1/2 immunoassays, including five enzyme immunoassays and one rapid test, were challenged with up to 250 serum samples collected from various global sites. The serum samples were from individuals known to be infected with variants of HIV-1 including group M subtypes A, B, B′, C, D, E, F, and G and group O. All immunoassays detected the vast majority of samples tested. Three samples produced low signal over cutoff values in one or more tests: a clade B sample, an untypeable sample with a low antibody titer, and a group O sample. It is concluded that HIV-1 immunoassays used in the United States are capable of detecting most HIV-1 group M variants.
PMCID: PMC87866  PMID: 11230420

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