To assess spousal agreement levels regarding fertility preference and spousal communication, and to look at how it affects contraceptive use by couples.
We conducted a cross-sectional study to collect quantitative data from March to May 2010 in Jimma zone, Ethiopia, using a multistage sampling design covering six districts. In each of the 811 couples included in the survey, both spouses were interviewed. Concordance between the husband and wife was assessed using different statistics and tests including concordance rates, ANOVA, Cohen’s Κ and McNemar’s test for paired samples. Multivariate analysis was computed to ascertain factors associated with contraceptive use.
Over half of the couples wanted more children and 27.8% of the spouses differed about the desire for more children. In terms of sex preference, there was a 48.7% discord in couples who wanted to have more children. At large, spousal concordance on the importance of family planning was positive. However, it was the husband’s favourable attitude towards family planning that determined a couple’s use of contraception. Overall, contraceptive prevalence was 42.9%. Among the groups with the highest level of contraceptive users, were couples where the husband does not want any more children. Spousal communication about the decision to use contraception showed a positive association with a couple’s contraceptive prevalence.
Family planning programs aiming to increase contraceptive uptake could benefit from findings on spousal agreement regarding fertility desire, because the characteristics of each spouse influences the couple’s fertility level. Disparities between husband and wife about the desire for more children sustain the need for male consideration while analysing the unmet need for contraception. Moreover, men play a significant role in the decision making concerning contraceptive use. Accordingly, involving men in family planning programs could increase a couple’s contraceptive practice in the future.
Fertility preference; Couples; Contraception; Spousal discordance
To assess the coverage for cervical cancer screening as well as the use of cervical cytology, colposcopy and other diagnostic and therapeutic interventions on the uterine cervix in Belgium, using individual health insurance data.
The Intermutualistic Agency compiled a database containing 14 million records from reimbursement claims for Pap smears, colposcopies, cervical biopsies and surgery, performed between 2002 and 2006. Cervical cancer screening coverage was defined as the proportion of women aged 25–64 that had a Pap smear within the last 3 years.
Cervical cancer screening coverage was 61% at national level, for the target population of women between 25 and 64 years old, in the period 2004–2006. Differences between the 3 regions were small, but varied more substantially between provinces. Coverage was 70% for 25–34 year old women, 67% for those aged 35–39 years, and decreased to 44% in the age group of 60–64 years. The median screening interval was 13 months. The screening coverage varied substantially by social category: 40% and 64%, in women categorised as beneficiary or not-beneficiary of increased reimbursement from social insurance, respectively. In the 3-year period 2004–2006, 3.2 million screen tests were done in the target group consisting of 2.8 million women. However, only 1.7 million women got one or more smears and 1.1 million women had no smears, corresponding to an average of 1.88 smears per woman in three years of time. Colposcopy was excessively used (number of Pap smears over colposcopies = 3.2). The proportion of women with a history of conisation or hysterectomy, before the age of 65, was 7% and 19%, respectively.
The screening coverage increased slightly from 59% in 2000 to 61% in 2006. The screening intensity remained at a high level, and the number of cytological examinations was theoretically sufficient to cover more than the whole target population.
Between 1990 and 2011, global neonatal mortality decline was slower than that of under-five mortality. As a result, the proportion of under-five deaths due to neonatal mortality increased. This increase is primarily a consequence of decreasing post-neonatal and child under-five mortality as a result of the typical focus of child survival programmes of the past two decades on diseases affecting children over four weeks of age. Newborns are lagging behind in improved child health outcomes. The aim of this study was to conduct a comprehensive, equity-focussed newborn care assessment and to explore options to improve newborn survival in Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and the Philippines.
We assessed newborn health policies, services and care in the three countries through document review, interviews and health facility visits. Findings were triangulated to describe newborns’ health status, the health policy and the health system context for newborn care and the equity situation regarding newborn survival.
Main findings: (1) In the three countries, decline of neonatal mortality is lagging behind compared to that of under-five mortality. (2) Comprehensive newborn policies in line with international standards exist, although implementation remains poor. An important factor hampering implementation is decentralisation of the health sector, which created confusion regarding roles and responsibilities. Management capacity and skills at decentralised level were often found to be limited. (3) Quality of newborn care provided at primary healthcare and referral level is generally substandard. Limited knowledge and skills among providers of newborn care are contributing to poor quality of care. (4) Socio-economic and geographic inequities in newborn care are considerable.
Similar important challenges for newborn care have been identified in Indonesia, Lao PDR and the Philippines. There is an urgent need to address weak leadership and governance regarding newborn care, quality of newborn care provided and inequities in newborn care. Child survival programmes focussed on children over four weeks of age have shown to have positive outcomes. Similar efforts as those used in these programmes should be considered in newborn care.
Newborn care; Needs assessment; Quality of care; Equity; Healthcare policy; South-East Asia
The main aim of this study was to assess whether a history of abuse, reported during pregnancy, was associated with an operative delivery. Secondly, we assessed if the association varied according to the type of abuse and if the reported abuse had been experienced as a child or an adult.
The Bidens study, a cohort study in six European countries (Belgium, Iceland, Denmark, Estonia, Norway, and Sweden) recruited 6724 pregnant women attending routine antenatal care. History of abuse was assessed through questionnaire and linked to obstetric information from hospital records. The main outcome measure was operative delivery as a dichotomous variable, and categorized as an elective caesarean section (CS), or an operative vaginal birth, or an emergency CS. Non-obstetrically indicated were CSs performed on request or for psychological reasons without another medical reason. Binary and multinomial regression analysis were used to assess the associations.
Among 3308 primiparous women, sexual abuse as an adult (≥18 years) increased the risk of an elective CS, Adjusted Odds Ratio 2.12 (1.28–3.49), and the likelihood for a non-obstetrically indicated CS, OR 3.74 (1.24–11.24). Women expressing current suffering from the reported adult sexual abuse had the highest risk for an elective CS, AOR 4.07 (1.46–11.3). Neither physical abuse (in adulthood or childhood <18 years), nor sexual abuse in childhood increased the risk of any operative delivery among primiparous women. Among 3416 multiparous women, neither sexual, nor emotional abuse was significantly associated with any kind of operative delivery, while physical abuse had an increased AOR for emergency CS of 1.51 (1.05–2.19).
Sexual abuse as an adult increases the risk of an elective CS among women with no prior birth experience, in particular for non-obstetrical reasons. Among multiparous women, a history of physical abuse increases the risk of an emergency CS.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) around the time of pregnancy is a widespread global health problem with many negative consequences. Nevertheless, a lot remains unclear about which interventions are effective and might be adopted in the perinatal care context.
The objective is to provide a clear overview of the existing evidence on effectiveness of interventions for IPV around the time of pregnancy.
Following databases PubMed, Web of Science, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched and expanded by hand search. The search was limited to English peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials published from 2000 to 2013. This review includes all types of interventions aiming to reduce IPV around the time of pregnancy as a primary outcome, and as secondary outcomes to enhance physical and/or mental health, quality of life, safety behavior, help seeking behavior, and/or social support.
We found few randomized controlled trials evaluating interventions for IPV around the time of pregnancy. Moreover, the nine studies identified did not produce strong evidence that certain interventions are effective. Nonetheless, home visitation programs and some multifaceted counseling interventions did produce promising results. Five studies reported a statistically significant decrease in physical, sexual and/or psychological partner violence (odds ratios from 0.47 to 0.92). Limited evidence was found for improved mental health, less postnatal depression, improved quality of life, fewer subsequent miscarriages, and less low birth weight/prematurity. None of the studies reported any evidence of a negative or harmful effect of the interventions.
Conclusions and implications
Strong evidence of effective interventions for IPV during the perinatal period is lacking, but some interventions show promising results. Additional large-scale, high-quality research is essential to provide further evidence about the effect of certain interventions and clarify which interventions should be adopted in the perinatal care context.
Although substantiated by little evidence, concerns about zidovudine-related anaemia in pregnancy have influenced antiretroviral (ARV) regimen choice for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1, especially in settings where anaemia is common.
Eligible HIV-infected pregnant women in Burkina Faso, Kenya and South Africa were followed from 28 weeks of pregnancy until 12–24 months after delivery (n = 1070). Women with a CD4 count of 200-500cells/mm3 and gestational age 28–36 weeks were randomly assigned to zidovudine-containing triple-ARV prophylaxis continued during breastfeeding up to 6-months, or to zidovudine during pregnancy plus single-dose nevirapine (sd-NVP) at labour. Additionally, two cohorts were established, women with CD4 counts: <200 cells/mm3 initiated antiretroviral therapy, and >500 cells/mm3 received zidovudine during pregnancy plus sd-NVP at labour. Mild (haemoglobin 8.0-10.9 g/dl) and severe anaemia (haemoglobin < 8.0 g/dl) occurrence were assessed across study arms, using Kaplan-Meier and multivariable Cox proportional hazards models.
At enrolment (corresponded to a median 32 weeks gestation), median haemoglobin was 10.3 g/dl (IQR = 9.2-11.1). Severe anaemia occurred subsequently in 194 (18.1%) women, mostly in those with low baseline haemoglobin, lowest socio-economic category, advanced HIV disease, prolonged breastfeeding (≥6 months) and shorter ARV exposure. Severe anaemia incidence was similar in the randomized arms (equivalence P-value = 0.32). After 1–2 months of ARV’s, severe anaemia was significantly reduced in all groups, though remained highest in the low CD4 cohort.
Severe anaemia occurs at a similar rate in women receiving longer triple zidovudine-containing regimens or shorter prophylaxis. Pregnant women with pre-existing anaemia and advanced HIV disease require close monitoring.
Trial registration number
Zidovudine; Pregnancy; HIV; Sub-Saharan Africa; Anaemia; Drug toxicity
In Morocco, the social and legal framework surrounding sexual and reproductive health has transformed greatly in the past decade, especially with the introduction of the new Family Law or Moudawana. Yet, despite raising the minimum age of marriage for girls and stipulating equal rights in the family, child and forced marriage is widespread. The objective of this research study was to explore perspectives of a broad range of professionals on factors that contribute to the occurrence of child and forced marriage in Morocco.
A qualitative approach was used to generate both primary and secondary data for the analysis. Primary data consist of individual semi-structured interviews that were conducted with 22 professionals from various sectors: health, legal, education, NGO’s and government. Sources of secondary data include academic papers, government and NGO reports, various legal documents and media reports. Data were analyzed using thematic qualitative analysis.
Four major themes arose from the data, indicating that the following elements contribute to child and forced marriage: (1) the legal and social divergence in conceptualizing forced and child marriage; (2) the impact of legislation; (3) the role of education; and (4) the economic factor. Emphasis was especially placed on the new Family Code or Moudawana as having the greatest influence on advancement of women's rights in the sphere of marriage. However, participants pointed out that embedded patriarchal attitudes and behaviours limit its effectiveness.
The study provided a comprehensive understanding of the factors that compound the problem of child and forced marriage in Morocco. From the viewpoint of professionals, who are closely involved in tackling the issue, policy measures and the law have the greatest potential to bring child and forced marriage to a halt. However, the implementation of new legal tools is facing barriers and resistance. Additionally, the legal and policy framework should go hand in hand with both education and increased economic opportunities. Education and awareness-raising of all ages is considered essential, seeing that parents and the extended family play a huge role in marrying off girls and young women.
Child and forced marriage; Morocco; Women’s rights; Sexual and reproductive health; Violence
To assess sexual risk-taking of female sex workers (FSWs) with emotional partners (boyfriends and husbands), compared to regular and casual clients. Experiences of violence and the degree of relationship control that FSWs have with emotional partners are also described.
Cohort study with quarterly follow-up visit over 12-months.
Four hundred HIV-uninfected FSWs older than 16 years were recruited from their homes and guesthouses in Mombasa, Kenya. A structured questionnaire assessed participant characteristics and study outcomes at each visit, and women received risk-reduction counselling, male and female condoms, and HIV testing.
Four or more unprotected sex acts in the past week were reported by 21.3% of women during sex with emotional partners, compared to 5.8% with regular and 4.8% with casual clients (P<0.001). Total number of unprotected sex acts per week was 5–6-fold higher with emotional partners (603 acts with 259 partners) than with regular or casual clients (125 acts with 456, and 98 acts with 632 clients, respectively; P<0.001). Mostly, perceptions of “trust” underscored unprotected sex with emotional partners. Low control over these relationships, common to many women (36.9%), was linked with higher partner numbers, inconsistent condom use, and being physically forced to have sex by their emotional partners. Half experienced sexual or physical violence in the past year, similarly associated with partner numbers and inconsistent condom use.
High-risk sexual behaviour, low control and frequent violence in relationships with emotional partners heighten FSWs' vulnerability and high HIV risk, requiring targeted interventions that also encompass emotional partners.
To elicit the views of primary healthcare providers from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua on how adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) care in their communities can be improved.
Overall, 126 healthcare providers (46 from Bolivia, 39 from Ecuador, and 41 from Nicaragua) took part in this qualitative study. During a series of moderated discussions, they provided written opinions about the accessibility and appropriateness of ASRH services and suggestions for its improvement. The data were analyzed by employing a content analysis methodology.
Study participants emphasized managerial issues such as the prioritization of adolescents as a patient group and increased healthcare providers’ awareness about adolescent-friendly approaches. They noted that such an approach needs to be extended beyond primary healthcare centers. Schools, parents, and the community in general should be encouraged to integrate issues related to ASRH in the everyday life of adolescents and become ‘gate-openers’ to ASRH services. To ensure the success of such measures, action at the policy level would be required. For example, decision-makers could call for developing clinical guidelines for this population group and coordinate multisectoral efforts.
To improve ASRH services within primary healthcare institutions in three Latin American countries, primary healthcare providers call for focusing on improving the youth-friendliness of health settings. To facilitate this, they suggested engaging with key stakeholders, such as parents, schools, and decision-makers at the policy level.
adolescents; reproductive health services; primary healthcare; healthcare personnel; Latin America
Understanding why people do not use family planning is critical to address unmet needs and to increase contraceptive use. According to the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey 2011, most women and men had knowledge on some family planning methods but only about 29% of married women were using contraceptives. 20% women had an unmet need for family planning. We examined knowledge, attitudes and contraceptive practice as well as factors related to contraceptive use in Jimma zone, Ethiopia.
Data were collected from March to May 2010 among 854 married couples using a multi-stage sampling design. Quantitative data based on semi-structured questionnaires was triangulated with qualitative data collected during focus group discussions. We compared proportions and performed logistic regression analysis.
The concept of family planning was well known in the studied population. Sex-stratified analysis showed pills and injectables were commonly known by both sexes, while long-term contraceptive methods were better known by women, and traditional methods as well as emergency contraception by men. Formal education was the most important factor associated with better knowledge about contraceptive methods (aOR = 2.07, p<0.001), in particular among women (aORwomen = 2.77 vs. aORmen = 1.49; p<0.001). In general only 4 out of 811 men ever used contraception, while 64% and 43% females ever used and were currently using contraception respectively.
The high knowledge on contraceptives did not match with the high contraceptive practice in the study area. The study demonstrates that mere physical access (proximity to clinics for family planning) and awareness of contraceptives are not sufficient to ensure that contraceptive needs are met. Thus, projects aiming at increasing contraceptive use should contemplate and establish better counseling about contraceptive side effects and method switch. Furthermore in all family planning activities both wives' and husbands' participation should be considered.
Infection and inflammation are important mechanisms leading to preterm birth. Soluble triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-1 (sTREM-1) belongs to a family of cell surface receptors that seems to play an important role in fine-tuning the immune response. It has been demonstrated that sTREM-1 is involved in bacterial infection as well as in non-infectious inflammatory conditions. Few studies have investigated serum sTREM-1 expression during preterm labor. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess sTREM-1 concentrations in maternal serum during term and preterm labor.
This case control study included 176 singleton pregnancies in the following groups: patients in (1) preterm labor, delivered before 34 weeks (PTB) (n = 52); (2) GA matched controls, not in labor, matched for gestational age (GA) with the PTB group (n = 52); (3) at term in labor (n = 40) and (4) at term not in labor (n = 32). sTREM-1 concentrations were determined by enzyme-linked immunoassay.
sTREM-1 was detected in all serum samples. Median sTREM-1 concentrations were significantly higher in women with PTB vs. GA matched controls (367 pg/ml, interquartile range (IQR) 304–483 vs. 273 pg/ml, IQR 208–334; P<0.001) and in women at term in labor vs. at term not in labor (300 pg/ml, IQR 239–353 vs. 228 pg/ml, IQR 174–285; P<0.001). Women with PTB had significantly higher levels of sTREM-1 compared to women at term in labor (P = 0.004). Multiple regression analysis, with groups recoded as three key covariates (labor, preterm and rupture of the membranes), showed significantly higher sTREM-1 concentrations for labor (+30%, P<0.001) and preterm (+15%, P = 0.005) after adjusting for educational level, history of PTB and sample age.
sTREM-1 concentrations in maternal serum were elevated during spontaneous term and preterm labor and sTREM-1 levels were significantly higher in preterm labor.
Sub-Saharan transmigrants in Morocco are extremely vulnerable to sexual violence. From a public health perspective, the healthcare system is globally considered an important partner in the prevention of sexual violence. The aim of this study is twofold. In a first phase, we aimed to identify the current role and position of the Moroccan healthcare sector in the prevention of sexual violence against sub-Saharan transmigrants. In a second phase, we wanted these results and available guidelines to be the topic of a participatory process with local stakeholders in order to formulate recommendations for a more desirable prevention of sexual violence against sub-Saharan transmigrants by the Moroccan healthcare sector.
Knowledge, attitudes and practices of healthcare workers in Morocco concerning sexual violence against sub-Saharan transmigrants and its prevention were firstly explored in semi-structured interviews after which they were discussed in a participatory process resulting in the formulation of recommendations.
All participants (n=24) acknowledged the need for desirable prevention of sexual violence against transmigrants. Furthermore, important barriers in tertiary prevention practices, i.e. psychosocial and judicial referral and long-term follow-up, and in secondary prevention attitudes, i.e. active identification of victims were identified. Moreover, existing services for Moroccan victims of sexual violence currently do not address the sub-Saharan population. Thus, transmigrants are bound to rely on the aid of civil society.
This research demonstrates the low accessibility of existing Moroccan services for sub-Saharan migrants. In particular, there is an absence of prevention initiatives addressing sexual violence against the sub-Saharan transmigrant population. Although healthcare workers do wish to develop prevention initiatives, they are dealing with structural difficulties and a lack of expertise. Recommendations adapted to the context of sub-Saharan transmigrants in Morocco are suggested.
Sub-Saharan migrants; Morocco; Sexual violence; Health services; Prevention
Efficient HIV prevention requires accurate identification of individuals with risky sexual behaviour. However, self-reported data from sexual behaviour surveys are prone to social desirability bias (SDB). Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing (ACASI) has been suggested as an alternative to face-to-face interviewing (FTFI), because it may promote interview privacy and reduce SDB. However, little is known about the suitability and accuracy of ACASI in urban communities with high HIV prevalence in South Africa. To test this, we conducted a sexual behaviour survey in Cape Town, South Africa, using ACASI methods.
Participants (n = 878) answered questions about their sexual relationships on a touch screen computer in a private mobile office. We included questions at the end of the ACASI survey that were used to assess participants’ perceived ease of use, privacy, and truthfulness. Univariate logistic regression models, supported by multivariate models, were applied to identify groups of people who had adverse interviewing experiences. Further, we constructed male–female ratios of self-reported sexual behaviours as indicators of SDB. We used these indicators to compare SDB in our survey and in recent FTFI-based Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs) from Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
Most participants found our methods easy to use (85.9%), perceived privacy (96.3%) and preferred ACASI to other modes of inquiry (82.5%) when reporting on sexual behaviours. Unemployed participants and those in the 40–70 year old age group were the least likely to find our methods easy to use (OR 0.69; 95% CI: 0.47–1.01 and OR 0.37; 95% CI: 0.23–0.58, respectively). In our survey, the male–female ratio for reporting >2 sexual partners in the past year, a concurrent relationship in the past year, and > 2 sexual partners in a lifetime was 3.4, 2.6, and 1.2, respectively— far lower than the ratios observed in the Demographic and Health Surveys.
Our analysis suggests that most participants in our survey found the ACASI modality to be acceptable, private, and user-friendly. Moreover, our results indicate lower SDB than in FTFI techniques. Targeting older and unemployed participants for ACASI training prior to taking the survey may help to improve their perception of ease and privacy.
ACASI; Sexual behaviour; Social desirability bias; Self-reported data; Gender; South Africa
Adolescents in Latin America are at high risk for unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, which often result in unsafe abortions or poor maternal health outcomes. Both young men and women in the region face an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate sexual and reproductive health information, services and counselling. To date, many adolescent health programmes have targeted a single determinant of sexual and reproductive health. However, recent evidence suggests that the complexity of sexual and reproductive health issues demands an equally multi-layered and comprehensive approach.
This article describes the development, implementation and evaluation design of the community-embedded reproductive health care for adolescents (CERCA) study in three Latin American cities: Cochabamba (Bolivia), Cuenca (Ecuador) and Managua (Nicaragua). Project CERCA’s research methodology builds on existing methodological frameworks, namely: action research, community based participatory research and intervention-mapping.
The interventions in each country address distinct target groups (adolescents, parents, local authorities and health providers) and seek improvement of the following sexual health behaviours: communication about sexuality, sexual and reproductive health information-seeking, access to sexual and reproductive health care and safe sexual relationships.
In Managua, we implemented a randomised controlled study, and in Cochabamba and Cuenca we adopted a non-randomised controlled study to evaluate the effectiveness of Project CERCA interventions, in addition to a process evaluation.
This research will result in a methodological framework that will contribute to the improved design and implementation of future adolescent sexual and reproductive health interventions.
Reproductive health; Sexual behaviour; Adolescents; Latin America; Community based participatory research; Intervention mapping; Action research; Research design
To investigate self-report of heterosexual anal intercourse among male sex workers who sell sex to men, and to identify the socio-demographic characteristics associated with practice of the behavior.
Two cross-sectional surveys of male sex workers who sell sex to men in Mombasa, Kenya.
Male sex workers selling sex to men were invited to participate in surveys undertaken in 2006 and 2008. A structured questionnaire administered by trained interviewers was used to collect information on socio-demographic characteristics, sexual behaviors, HIV and STI knowledge, and health service usage. Data were analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistics. Bivariate logistic regression, after controlling for year of survey, was used to identify socio-demographic characteristics associated with heterosexual anal intercourse.
From a sample of 867 male sex workers, 297 men had sex with a woman during the previous 30 days – of whom 45% did so with a female client and 86% with a non-paying female partner. Within these groups, 66% and 43% of male sex workers had anal intercourse with a female client and non-paying partner respectively. Factors associated with reporting recent heterosexual anal intercourse in bivariate logistic regression after controlling for year of survey participation were being Muslim, ever or currently married, living with wife only, living with a female partner only, living with more than one sexual partner, self-identifying as basha/king/bisexual, having one’s own children, and lower education.
We found unexpectedly high levels of self-reported anal sex with women by male sex workers, including selling sex to female clients as well as with their own partners. Further investigation among women in Mombasa is needed to understand heterosexual anal sex practices, and how HIV programming may respond.
Intersections between migration and sex work are underexplored in southern Africa, a region with high internal and cross-border population mobility, and HIV prevalence. Sex work often constitutes an important livelihood activity for migrant women. In 2010, sex workers trained as interviewers conducted cross-sectional surveys with 1,653 female sex workers in Johannesburg (Hillbrow and Sandton), Rustenburg and Cape Town. Most (85.3 %) sex workers were migrants (1396/1636): 39.0 % (638/1636) internal and 46.3 % (758/1636) cross-border. Cross-border migrants had higher education levels, predominately worked part-time, mainly at indoor venues, and earned more per client than other groups. They, however, had 41 % lower health service contact (adjusted odds ratio = 0.59; 95 % confidence interval = 0.40–0.86) and less frequent condom use than non-migrants. Police interaction was similar. Cross-border migrants appear more tenacious in certain aspects of sex work, but require increased health service contact. Migrant-sensitive, sex work-specific health care and health education are needed.
Sex work; Condoms; Health care utilization; Migration status; South Africa
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) during pregnancy and parturition. Aberrant ECM degradation by MMPs or an imbalance between MMPs and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of preterm labor, however few studies have investigated MMPs or TIMPs in maternal serum. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine serum concentrations of MMP-3, MMP-9 and all four TIMPs as well as MMP:TIMP ratios during term and preterm labor.
A case control study with 166 singleton pregnancies, divided into four groups: (1) women with preterm birth, delivering before 34 weeks (PTB); (2) gestational age (GA) matched controls, not in preterm labor; (3) women at term in labor and (4) at term not in labor. MMP and TIMP concentrations were measured using Luminex technology.
MMP-9 and TIMP-4 concentrations were higher in women with PTB vs. GA matched controls (resp. p = 0.01 and p<0.001). An increase in MMP-9:TIMP-1 and MMP-9:TIMP-2 ratio was observed in women with PTB compared to GA matched controls (resp. p = 0.02 and p<0.001) as well as compared to women at term in labor (resp. p = 0.006 and p<0.001). Multiple regression results with groups recoded as three key covariates showed significantly higher MMP-9 concentrations, higher MMP-9:TIMP-1 and MMP-9:TIMP-2 ratios and lower TIMP-1 and -2 concentrations for preterm labor. Significantly higher MMP-9 and TIMP-4 concentrations and MMP-9:TIMP-2 ratios were observed for labor.
Serum MMP-9:TIMP-1 and MMP-9:TIMP-2 balances are tilting in favor of gelatinolysis during preterm labor. TIMP-1 and -2 concentrations were lower in preterm gestation, irrespective of labor, while TIMP-4 concentrations were raised in labor. These observations suggest that aberrant serum expression of MMP:TIMP ratios and TIMPs reflect pregnancy and labor status, providing a far less invasive method to determine enzymes essential in ECM remodeling during pregnancy and parturition.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common vaginal disorder among women of reproductive age, has been suggested as co-factor in the development of cervical cancer. Previous studies examining the relationship between BV and cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) provided inconsistent and conflicting results. The aim of this study is to clarify the association between these two conditions.
A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to summarize published literature on the association between BV and cervical pre-cancerous lesions. An extensive search of electronic databases Medline (Pubmed) and Web of Science was performed. The key words ‘bacterial vaginosis’ and ‘bacterial infections and vaginitis’ were used in combination with ‘cervical intraepithelial neoplasia’, ‘squamous intraepithelial lesions’, ‘cervical lesions’, ‘cervical dysplasia’, and ‘cervical screening’. Eligible studies required a clear description of diagnostic methods used for detecting both BV and cervical pre-cancerous lesions. Publications were included if they either reported odds ratios (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) representing the magnitude of association between these two conditions, or presented data that allowed calculation of the OR.
Out of 329 articles, 17 cross-sectional and 2 incidence studies were selected. In addition, two studies conducted in The Netherlands, using the national KOPAC system, were retained. After testing for heterogeneity and publication bias, meta-analysis and meta-regression were performed, using a random effects model. Although heterogeneity among studies was high (χ2 = 164.7, p<0.01, I2 = 88.5), a positive association between BV and cervical pre-cancerous lesions was found, with an overall estimated odds ratio of 1.51 (95% CI, 1.24–1.83). Meta-regression analysis could not detect a significant difference between studies based on BV diagnosis, CIN diagnosis or study population.
Although most studies were cross-sectional and heterogeneity was high, this meta-analysis confirms a connection between BV and CIN.
To obtain more detailed understanding of the causes of disturbance of the vaginal microflora (VMF), a longitudinal study was carried out for 17 women during two menstrual cycles.
Vaginal swabs were obtained daily from 17 non-pregnant, menarchal volunteers. For each woman, Gram stains were scored, the quantitative changes of 5 key vaginal species, i.e. Atopobium vaginae, Lactobacillus crispatus, L. iners, (sialidase positive) Gardnerella vaginalis and Prevotella bivia were quantified with qPCR and hydrogen-peroxide production was assessed on TMB+ agar.
Women could be divided in 9 subjects with predominantly normal VMF (grades Ia, Ib and Iab, group N) and 8 with predominantly disturbed VMF (grades I-like, II, III and IV, group D).
VMF was variable between women, but overall stable for most of the women. Menses were the strongest disturbing factor of the VMF.
L. crispatus was present at log7–9 cells/ml in grade Ia, Iab and II VMF, but concentrations declined 100-fold during menses. L. crispatus below log7 cells/ml corresponded with poor H2O2-production. L. iners was present at log 10 cells/ml in grade Ib, II and III VMF. Sialidase negative G. vaginalis strains (average log5 cells/ml) were detected in grade I, I-like and IV VMF. In grade II VMF, predominantly a mixture of both sialidase negative and positive G. vaginalis strains (average log9 cells/ml) were present, and predominantly sialidase positive strains in grade III VMF. The presence of A. vaginae (average log9 cells/ml) coincided with grade II and III VMF. P. bivia (log4–8 cells/ml) was mostly present in grade III vaginal microflora.
L. iners, G. vaginalis, A. vaginae and P. bivia all increased around menses for group N women, and as such L. iners was considered a member of disturbed VMF.
This qPCR-based study confirms largely the results of previous culture-based, microscopy-based and pyrosequencing-based studies.
Important unanswered questions remain on the impact of international sporting events on the sex industry. Speculation about increased demand and supply of sex work often generates significant attention, but also additional funding for HIV programmes. This study assessed whether changes occurred in the demand and supply of paid sex during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
Trained sex worker interviewers conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews among consenting female sex workers during May-September 2010. Using bivariate analyses we compared supply, demand, sexual risk-taking, and police and health services contact pre-World Cup, to levels during the World Cup and after the event.
No increases were detected in indicators of sex work supply, including the proportion of sex workers newly arrived in the city (< 2.5% in each phase) or those recently entering the trade (≤ 1.5%). Similarly, demand for sex work, indicated by median number of clients (around 12 per week) and amount charged per transaction ($13) remained similar in the three study periods. Only a third of participants reported observing any change in the sex industry ascribed to the World Cup. Self-reported condom-use with clients remained high across all samples (> 92.4% in all phases). Health-care utilisation decreased non-significantly from the pre- to during World Cup period (62.4% to 57.0%; P = 0.075). Across all periods, about thirty percent of participants had interacted with police in the preceding month, two thirds of whom had negative interactions.
Contrary to public opinion, no major increases were detected in the demand or supply of paid sex during the World Cup. Although the study design employed was unable to select population-based samples, these findings do not support the public concern and media speculation prior to the event, but rather signal a missed opportunity for public health action. Given the media attention on sex work, future sporting events offer strategic opportunities to implement services for sex workers and their clients, especially as health service utilisation might decrease in this period.
HIV; Sex work; Prostitution; Sport; South Africa
While the HIV epidemic is levelling off in sub-Saharan Africa, it remains at an unacceptably high level. Young people aged 15-24 years remain particularly vulnerable, resulting in a regional HIV prevalence of 1.4% in young men and 3.3% in young women. This study assesses the effectiveness of a peer-led HIV prevention intervention in secondary schools in Rwanda on young people’s sexual behavior, HIV knowledge and attitudes.
In a non-randomized longitudinal controlled trial, fourteen schools were selected in two neighboring districts in Rwanda Bugesera (intervention) and Rwamagana (control). Students (n = 1950) in eight intervention and six control schools participated in three surveys (baseline, six and twelve months in the intervention). Analysis was done using linear and logistic regression using generalized estimation equations adjusted for propensity score.
The overall retention rate was 72%. Time trends in sexual risk behavior (being sexually active, sex in last six months, condom use at last sex) were not significantly different in students from intervention and control schools, nor was the intervention associated with increased knowledge, perceived severity or perceived susceptibility. It did significantly reduce reported stigma.
Analyzing this and other interventions, we identified several reasons for the observed limited effectiveness of peer education: 1) intervention activities (spreading information) are not tuned to objectives (changing behavior); 2) young people prefer receiving HIV information from other sources than peers; 3) outcome indicators are not adequate and the context of the relationship in which sex occurs and the context in which sex occurs is ignored. Effectiveness of peer education may increase through integration in holistic interventions and redefining peer educators’ role as focal points for sensitization and referral to experts and services. Finally, we argue that a narrow focus on sexual risks will never significantly turn the tide.
Peer education; HIV prevention; Effectiveness; Young people; Rwanda
Globally, studies report a high prevalence of intimate partner sexual violence (IPSV) and an association with HIV infection. Despite the criminalisation of IPSV and deliberate sexual HIV infection in Zimbabwe, IPSV remains common. This study explored women's and health workers' perspectives and experiences of sexuality and sexual violence in pregnancy, including in relation to HIV testing.
This qualitative study was part of a larger study of the dynamics of intimate partner violence and HIV in pregnancy in Zimbabwe. Key informant interviews were conducted with health workers and focus group discussions were held with 64 pregnant or nursing mothers attending antenatal and postnatal care clinics in low-income neighbourhoods of Harare, covering the major thematic areas of validated sexual violence research instruments. Thematic content analysis of audio-recorded and transcribed data was conducted.
While women reported some positive experiences of sex in pregnancy, most participants commonly experienced coercive sexual practices. They reported that men failed to understand, or refused to accept, pregnancy and its associated emotional changes, and often forced painful and degrading sexual acts on them, usually while the men were under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs. Men often refused or delayed HIV testing, and participants reported accounts of HIV-positive men not disclosing their status to their partners and deliberately infecting or attempting to infect them. Women's passive acceptance of sexual violence was influenced by advice they received from other females to subordinate to their partners and to not deprive men of their conjugal sexual rights.
Cultural and societal factors, unequal gender norms and practices, women's economic vulnerability, and men's failure to understand pregnancy and emotional changes, influence men to perpetrate IPSV, leading to high risk of HIV infection.
This paper assesses the extent to which HIV prevention interventions for young people in sub-Saharan Africa are grounded in theory and if theory-based interventions are more effective. Three databases were searched for evaluation studies of HIV prevention interventions for youth. Additional articles were identified on websites of international organisations and through searching references. 34 interventions were included; 25 mentioned the use of theory. Social Cognitive Theory was most prominent (n = 13), followed by Health Belief Model (n = 7), and Theory of Reasoned Action/Planned Behaviour (n = 6). These cognitive behavioural theories assume that cognitions drive sexual behaviour. Reporting on choice and use of theory was low. Only three articles provided information about why a particular theory was selected. Interventions used theory to inform content (n = 13), for evaluation purposes (n = 4) or both (n = 7). No patterns of differential effectiveness could be detected between studies using and not using theory, or according to whether a theory informed content, and/or evaluation. We discuss characteristics of the theories that might account for the limited effectiveness observed, including overreliance on cognitions that likely vary according to type of sexual behaviour and other personal factors, inadequately address interpersonal factors, and failure to account for contextual factors.
The study objective was to assess the available data on efficacy and tolerability of antiseptics and disinfectants in treating bacterial vaginosis (BV).
A systematic search was conducted by consulting PubMed (1966-2010), CINAHL (1982-2010), IPA (1970-2010), and the Cochrane CENTRAL databases. Clinical trials were searched for by the generic names of all antiseptics and disinfectants listed in the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) Classification System under the code D08A. Clinical trials were considered eligible if the efficacy of antiseptics and disinfectants in the treatment of BV was assessed in comparison to placebo or standard antibiotic treatment with metronidazole or clindamycin and if diagnosis of BV relied on standard criteria such as Amsel’s and Nugent’s criteria.
A total of 262 articles were found, of which 15 reports on clinical trials were assessed. Of these, four randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were withheld from analysis. Reasons for exclusion were primarily the lack of standard criteria to diagnose BV or to assess cure, and control treatment not involving placebo or standard antibiotic treatment. Risk of bias for the included studies was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias. Three studies showed non-inferiority of chlorhexidine and polyhexamethylene biguanide compared to metronidazole or clindamycin. One RCT found that a single vaginal douche with hydrogen peroxide was slightly, though significantly less effective than a single oral dose of metronidazole.
The use of antiseptics and disinfectants for the treatment of BV has been poorly studied and most studies are somehow methodologically flawed. There is insufficient evidence at present to advocate the use of these agents, although some studies suggest that some antiseptics may have equal efficacy compared to clindamycin or metronidazole. Further study is warranted with special regard to the long-term efficacy and safety of antiseptics and disinfectants for vaginal use.
Bacterial vaginosis; Antiseptics; Disinfectants; Therapy; Systematic review; Chlorhexidine; Polyhexamethylene biguanide; Hydrogen peroxide
HIV spread continues at high rates from infected persons to their sexual partners. In 2009, an estimated 2.6 million new infections occurred globally. People living with HIV (PLHIV) receiving treatment are in contact with health workers and therefore exposed to prevention messages. By contrast, PLHIV not receiving ART often fall outside the ambit of prevention programs. There is little information on their sexual risk behaviors. This study in Mombasa Kenya therefore explored sexual behaviors of PLHIV not receiving any HIV treatment.
Using modified targeted snowball sampling, 698 PLHIV were recruited through community health workers and HIV-positive peer counsellors. Of the 59.2% sexually-active PLHIV, 24.5% reported multiple sexual partners. Of all sexual partners, 10.2% were HIV negative, while 74.5% were of unknown HIV status. Overall, unprotected sex occurred in 52% of sexual partnerships; notably with 32% of HIV-negative partners and 54% of partners of unknown HIV status in the last 6 months. Multivariate analysis, controlling for intra-client clustering, showed non-disclosure of HIV status (AOR: 2.38, 95%CI: 1.47-3.84, p < 0.001); experiencing moderate levels of perceived stigma (AOR: 2.94, 95%CI: 1.50-5.75, p = 0.002); and believing condoms reduce sexual pleasure (AOR: 2.81, 95%CI: 1.60-4.91, p < 0.001) were independently associated with unsafe sex. Unsafe sex was also higher in those using contraceptive methods other than condoms (AOR: 5.47, 95%CI: 2.57-11.65, p < 0.001); or no method (AOR: 3.99, 95%CI: 2.06-7.75, p < 0.001), compared to condom users.
High-risk sexual behaviors are common among PLHIV not accessing treatment services, raising the risk of HIV transmission to discordant partners. This population can be identified and reached in the community. Prevention programs need to urgently bring this population into the ambit of prevention and care services. Moreover, beginning HIV treatment earlier might assist in bringing this group into contact with providers and HIV prevention services, and in reducing risk behaviors.
PLHIV; Prevention of sexual transmission of HIV; Sexual behavior; Unsafe sex; Africa