Fetal and neonatal mortality rates in low-income countries are at least 10-fold greater than in high-income countries. These differences have been related to poor access to and poor quality of obstetric and neonatal care.
This trial tested the hypothesis that teams of health care providers, administrators and local residents can address the problem of limited access to quality obstetric and neonatal care and lead to a reduction in perinatal mortality in intervention compared to control locations. In seven geographic areas in five low-income and one middle-income country, most with high perinatal mortality rates and substantial numbers of home deliveries, we performed a cluster randomized non-masked trial of a package of interventions that included community mobilization focusing on birth planning and hospital transport, community birth attendant training in problem recognition, and facility staff training in the management of obstetric and neonatal emergencies. The primary outcome was perinatal mortality at ≥28 weeks gestation or birth weight ≥1000 g.
Despite extensive effort in all sites in each of the three intervention areas, no differences emerged in the primary or any secondary outcome between the intervention and control clusters. In both groups, the mean perinatal mortality was 40.1/1,000 births (P = 0.9996). Neither were there differences between the two groups in outcomes in the last six months of the project, in the year following intervention cessation, nor in the clusters that best implemented the intervention.
This cluster randomized comprehensive, large-scale, multi-sector intervention did not result in detectable impact on the proposed outcomes. While this does not negate the importance of these interventions, we expect that achieving improvement in pregnancy outcomes in these settings will require substantially more obstetric and neonatal care infrastructure than was available at the sites during this trial, and without them provider training and community mobilization will not be sufficient. Our results highlight the critical importance of evaluating outcomes in randomized trials, as interventions that should be effective may not be.
Stillbirth; Neonatal mortality; Maternal mortality; Emergency obstetric care
To describe the staffing and availability of medical equipment and medications and the performance of procedures at health facilities providing maternal and neonatal care at African, Asian, and Latin American sites participating in a multicenter trial to improve emergency obstetric/neonatal care in communities with high maternal and perinatal mortality.
In 2009, prior to intervention, we surveyed 136 hospitals and 228 clinics in 7 sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America regarding staffing, availability of equipment/ medications, and procedures including cesarean section.
The coverage of physicians and nurses/midwives was poor in Africa and Latin America. In Africa, only 20% of hospitals had full-time physicians. Only 70% of hospitals in Africa and Asia had performed cesarean sections in the last 6 months. Oxygen was unavailable in 40% of African hospitals and 17% of Asian hospitals. Blood was unavailable in 80% of African and Asian hospitals.
Assuming that adequate facility services are necessary to improve pregnancy outcomes, it is not surprising that maternal and perinatal mortality rates in the areas surveyed are high. The data presented emphasize that to reduce mortality in these areas, resources that result in improved staffing and sufficient equipment, supplies, and medication, along with training, are required.
emergency obstetric and neonatal care; developing countries; perinatal mortality
We describe rates of unintended pregnancy among HIV positive couples in Lusaka, Zambia. We also identify factors associated with unintended pregnancy among oral contraceptive pill (OCP) using couples in this cohort.
Data were analyzed from couples randomized in a factorial design to two family planning intervention videos.
Rates of unintended pregnancy were stratified by contraceptive method used at time of pregnancy. Predictors of time to unintended pregnancy among OCP users were determined via multivariate Cox modeling.
The highest rates of unintended pregnancy were observed among couples requesting condoms only (26.4/100CY) or OCPs (20.7/100CY); these rates were not significantly different. OCP users accounted for 37% of the couple-years (CY) observed and 87% of unintended pregnancies. Rates of unintended pregnancy for injectable (0.7/100CY) and intrauterine device (1.6/100CY) users were significantly lower relative to condom only users. No pregnancies occurred among contraceptive implant users or after tubal ligation. Factors associated (p<0.05) with time to unintended pregnancy among OCP users in multivariate analysis included the man wanting more children, the woman being HIV negative versus having stage IV HIV disease, and the woman reporting: younger age, no previous OCP use, missed OCPs, or sex without a condom.
Long-acting reversible contraceptive methods were effective in the context of integrated couples HIV prevention and contraceptive services. Injectable methods were also effective in this context. Given the high user failure rate of OCPs, family planning efforts should promote longer-acting methods among OCP users wishing to avoid pregnancy. Where other methods are not available or acceptable, OCP adherence counseling is needed, especially among younger and new OCP users.
To implement a vital statistics registry system to register pregnant women and document birth outcomes in the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research sites in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
The Global Network sites began a prospective population-based pregnancy registry to identify all pregnant women and record pregnancy outcomes up to 42 days post-delivery in more than 100 defined low-resource geographic areas (clusters). Pregnant women were registered during pregnancy, with 42-day maternal and neonatal follow-up recorded—including care received during the pregnancy and postpartum periods. Recorded outcomes included stillbirth, neonatal mortality, and maternal mortality rates.
In 2010, 72 848 pregnant women were enrolled and 6-week follow-up was obtained for 97.8%. Across sites, 40.7%, 24.8%, and 34.5% of births occurred in a hospital, health center, and home setting, respectively. The mean neonatal mortality rate was 23 per 1000 live births, ranging from 8.2 to 48.5 per 1000 live births. The mean stillbirth rate ranged from 13.7 to 54.4 per 1000 births.
The registry is an ongoing study to assess the impact of interventions and trends regarding pregnancy outcomes and measures of care to inform public health.
Maternal mortality; Neonatal mortality; Perinatal mortality; Pregnancy; Registry; Stillbirth
HIV discordant heterosexual couples are faced with the dual challenge of preventing sexual HIV transmission and unplanned pregnancies with the attendant risk of perinatal HIV transmission. Our aim was to examine uptake of two long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods – intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants – among HIV discordant couples in Rwanda and Zambia.
Women were interviewed alone or with their partner during routine cohort study follow-up visits to ascertain fertility goals; those not pregnant, not infertile, not already using LARC, and wishing to limit or delay fertility for ≥3 years were counseled on LARC methods and offered an IUD and implant on-site.
Among 409 fertile Rwandan women interviewed (126 alone, 283 with partners), 365 (89%) were counseled about LARC methods and 130 (36%) adopted a method (100 implant, 30 IUD). Of 787 fertile Zambian women interviewed (457 alone, 330 with partners), 528 (67%) received LARC counseling, of whom 177 (34%) adopted a method (139 implant, 38 IUD). In both countries, a woman’s younger age was predictive of LARC uptake. LARC users reported fewer episodes of unprotected sex than couples using only condoms.
Integrated fertility-goal based family planning counseling and access to LARC methods with reinforcement of dual-method use prompted uptake of IUDs and implants and reduced unprotected sex among HIV-discordant couples in two African capital cities.
contraception; family planning; HIV; intrauterine devices; implant
To determine whether resuscitation of infants who failed to develop effective breathing at birth increases survivors with neurodevelopmental impairment.
Infants unresponsive to stimulation who received bag and mask ventilation at birth in a resuscitation trial and infants who did not require any resuscitation were randomized to early neurodevelopmental intervention or control. Infants were evaluated by trained neurodevelopmental evaluators masked to both their resuscitation history and intervention group. The 12-month neurodevelopmental outcome data for both resuscitated and non-resuscitated infants randomized to the control groups are reported.
The study provided no evidence of a difference between the resuscitated (N = 86) and the non-resuscitated infants (N = 115) in the percentage of infants at 12 months with a mental developmental index < 85 on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II (primary outcome) (18% versus 12%; p = 0.22) and in other neurodevelopmental outcomes.
The overwhelming majority of infants who received resuscitation with bag and mask ventilation at birth have 12-month neurodevelopmental outcomes in the normal range. Longer follow-up is needed because of increased risk for neurodevelopmental impairments.
Resuscitation; intellectual disability; low and middle income countries; neonatal mortality; infant mortality; developmental outcome
To describe symptoms, physical exam findings, and set point viral load associated with acute HIV seroconversion in a heterosexual cohort of discordant couples in Zambia.
We followed HIV serodiscordant couples in Lusaka, Zambia from 1995–2009 with HIV testing of negative partners and symptom inventories 3-monthly, and physical examinations annually.
We compared prevalence of self-reported or treated symptoms (malaria syndrome, chronic diarrhea, asthenia, night sweats, and oral candidiasis) and annual physical exam [PE] findings (unilateral or bilateral neck, axillary, or inguinal adenopathy; and dermatosis) in seroconverting versus HIV-negative or HIV-positive intervals, controlling for repeated observations, age, and sex. A composite score comprised of significant symptoms and PE findings predictive of seroconversion versus HIV-negative intervals was constructed. We modeled the relationship between number of symptoms and PE findings at seroconversion and log set-point viral load [VL] using linear regression.
2,388 HIV-negative partners were followed for a median of 18 months; 429 seroconversions occurred. Neither symptoms nor PE findings were reported for most seroconverters. Seroconversion was significantly associated with malaria syndrome among non-diarrheic patients (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=4.0) night sweats (aOR=1.4), and bilateral axillary (aOR = 1.6), inguinal (aOR=2.2), and neck (aOR=2.2) adenopathy relative to HIV-negative intervals. Median number of symptoms was positively associated with set-point VL (p<0.001).
Though most acute and early infections were asymptomatic, malaria syndrome was more common and more severe during seroconversion compared with HIV-negative and HIV-positive intervals. When present, symptoms and physical exam findings were non-specific and associated with higher set point viremia.
HIV; seroconversion syndrome; set point HIV viral load
Ninety-eight percent of the 3.7 million neonatal deaths and 3.3 million stillbirths per year occur in developing countries, and evaluation of community-based interventions is needed.
Using a train-the-trainer model, local instructors trained birth attendants from rural communities in six countries (Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, India, Pakistan, and Zambia) in the World Health Organization Essential Newborn Care course (routine neonatal care, resuscitation, thermoregulation, breastfeeding, kangaroo care, care of the small baby, and common illnesses), and in a modified version of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (in depth basic resuscitation), except in Argentina.
The Essential Newborn Care intervention was assessed with a before and after design (N=57, 643). The Neonatal Resuscitation Program intervention was assessed as a cluster randomized controlled trial (N=62,366). The primary outcome was 7-day neonatal mortality.
The 7-day follow-up rate was 99.2%. Following Essential Newborn Care training, there was no significant reduction from baseline in all-cause 7-day neonatal (RR 0.99; CI 0.81, 1.22) or perinatal mortality; there was a significant reduction in the stillbirth rate (RR 0.69; CI 0.54, 0.88; p<0.01). Seven-day neonatal mortality, stillbirth, and perinatal mortality were not reduced in clusters randomized to Neonatal Resuscitation Program training as compared with control clusters.
Seven-day neonatal mortality did not decrease following the introduction of Essential Newborn Care training of community-based birth attendants, although the rate of stillbirths was reduced following this intervention. Subsequent training in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program did not significantly reduce the mortality rates. (clinicaltrials.gov number, NCT00136708).
neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; developing countries; health systems; effectiveness
Couples in sub-Saharan Africa are the largest group in the world at risk for HIV infection. Couples counseling and testing programs have been shown to reduce HIV transmission, but such programs remain rare in Africa. Before couples counseling and testing can become the norm, it is essential to increase demand for the services. We evaluated the effectiveness of several promotional strategies during a two -year program in Kitwe and Ndola, Zambia. The program attracted more than 7,600 couples through the use of radio broadcasts, billboards, and other strategies. The most effective recruiting technique was the use of local residents trained as “influence agents” to reach out to friends, neighbors, and others in their sphere of influence. Of the estimated 2.5 million new cases of HIV in adults and children in 2009, more than two-thirds occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.1 In Zambia, the prevalence of HIV among adults in urban and rural areas is estimated at 19 and 10 percent, respectively.2 Most HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa is heterosexual and occurs between cohabiting partners with discordant HIV test results3–5—that is, only one partner is HIV-positive. Thus, most new cases of HIV occur when someone infects his or her heterosexual partner. Sub-Saharan African couples with discordant HIV test results are the world’s largest risk group for HIV.6 Approximately 20 percent of Zambian couples have discordant HIV results, a rate consistent with estimates from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya.7–14
Healthcare systems in many low income countries have evolved to provide services for acute, infections and are poorly structured for the provision of chronic, non-communicable diseases which are increasingly common. Epilepsy is a common chronic neurologic condition and antiepileptic drugs are affordable, but the epilepsy treatment gap remains >90% in most African countries. The World Health Organization has recently released evidence-based guidelines for epilepsy care provision at the primary care level. Based upon these guidelines, we estimated all direct costs associated with epilepsy care provision as well as the cost of healthcare worker training and social marketing. We developed a model for epilepsy care delivery primarily by primary healthcare workers. We then used a variety of sources to develop cost estimates for the actual implementation and maintenance of this program being as comprehensive as possible to include all costs incurred within the health sector. Key sensitivity analyses were completed to better understand how changes in costs for individual aspects of care impact the overall cost of care delivery. Even after including the costs of healthcare worker retraining, social marketing and capital expenditures, epilepsy care can be provided at less than $25.00 per person with epilepsy per year. This is substantially less than for drugs alone for other common chronic conditions. Implementation of epilepsy care guidelines for patients receiving care at the primary care level is a cost effective approach to decreasing the epilepsy treatment gap in high gap, low income countries.
epilepsy; treatment gap; cost; Africa.
The potential role of antibodies in protection against intra-subtype HIV-1 superinfection remains to be understood. We compared the early neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses in three individuals, who were superinfected within one year of primary infection, to ten matched non-superinfected controls from a Zambian cohort of subtype C transmission cases. Sequence analysis of single genome amplified full-length envs from a previous study showed limited diversification in the individuals who became superinfected with the same HIV-1 subtype within year one post-seroconversion. We hypothesized that this reflected a blunted NAb response, which may have made these individuals more susceptible to superinfection.
Neutralization assays showed that autologous plasma NAb responses to the earliest, and in some cases transmitted/founder, virus were delayed and had low to undetectable titers in all three superinfected individuals prior to superinfection. In contrast, NAbs with a median IC50 titer of 1896 were detected as early as three months post-seroconversion in non-superinfected controls. Early plasma NAbs in all subjects showed limited but variable levels of heterologous neutralization breadth. Superinfected individuals also exhibited a trend toward lower levels of gp120- and V1V2-specific IgG binding antibodies but higher gp120-specific plasma IgA binding antibodies.
These data suggest that the lack of development of IgG antibodies, as reflected in autologous NAbs as well as gp120 and V1V2 binding antibodies to the primary infection virus, combined with potentially competing, non-protective IgA antibodies, may increase susceptibility to superinfection in the context of settings where a single HIV-1 subtype predominates.
HIV-1 superinfection; Subtype C; Neutralizing antibodies; HIV-1 transmission; HIV-1 dual infection
Preterm birth is a major cause of neonatal mortality, responsible for 28% of neonatal deaths overall. The administration of antenatal corticosteroids to women at high risk of preterm birth is a powerful perinatal intervention to reduce neonatal mortality in resource rich environments. The effect of antenatal steroids to reduce mortality and morbidity among preterm infants in hospital settings in developed countries with high utilization is well established, yet they are not routinely used in developing countries. The impact of increasing antenatal steroid use in hospital or community settings with low utilization rates and high infant mortality among premature infants due to lack of specialized services has not been well researched. There is currently no clear evidence about the safety of antenatal corticosteroid use for community-level births.
We hypothesize that a multi country, two-arm, parallel cluster randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether a multifaceted intervention to increase the use of antenatal corticosteroids, including components to improve the identification of pregnancies at high risk of preterm birth and providing and facilitating the appropriate use of steroids, will reduce neonatal mortality at 28 days of life in preterm newborns, compared with the standard delivery of care in selected populations of six countries. 102 clusters in Argentina, Guatemala, Kenya, India, Pakistan, and Zambia will be randomized, and around 60,000 women and newborns will be enrolled. Kits containing vials of dexamethasone, syringes, gloves, and instructions for administration will be distributed. Improving the identification of women at high risk of preterm birth will be done by (1) diffusing recommendations for antenatal corticosteroids use to health providers, (2) training health providers on identification of women at high risk of preterm birth, (3) providing reminders to health providers on the use of the kits, and (4) using a color-coded tape to measure uterine height to estimate gestational age in women with unknown gestational age. In both intervention and control clusters, health providers will be trained in essential newborn care for low birth weight babies. The primary outcome is neonatal mortality at 28 days of life in preterm infants.
ClinicalTrials.gov. Identifier: NCT01084096
Neonatal mortality; Antenatal corticosteroids; Implementation research; Preterm birth
Hypothesising that couples’ voluntary counselling and testing (CVCT) promotions can increase CVCT uptake, this study identified predictors of successful CVCT promotion in Lusaka, Zambia.
68 influential network leaders (INLs) identified 320 agents (INAs) who delivered 29 119 CVCT invitations to heterosexual couples.
The CVCT promotional model used INLs who identified INAs, who in turn conducted community-based promotion and distribution of CVCT invitations in two neighbourhoods over 18 months, with a mobile unit in one neighbourhood crossing over to the other mid-way through.
The primary outcome of interest was couple testing (yes/no) after receipt of a CVCT invitation. INA, couple and invitation characteristics predictive of couples’ testing were evaluated accounting for two-level clustering.
INAs delivered invitations resulting in 1727 couples testing (6% success rate). In multivariate analyses, INA characteristics significantly predictive of CVCT uptake included promoting in community-based (adjusted OR (aOR)=1.3; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.8) or health (aOR=1.5; 95% CI 1.2 to 2.0) networks versus private networks; being employed in the sales/service industry (aOR=1.5; 95% CI 1.0 to 2.1) versus unskilled manual labour; owning a home (aOR=0.7; 95% CI 0.6 to 0.9) versus not; and having tested for HIV with a partner (aOR=1.4; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.7) or alone (aOR=1.3; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.6) versus never having tested. Cohabiting couples were more likely to test (aOR=1.4; 95% CI 1.2 to 1.6) than non-cohabiting couples. Context characteristics predictive of CVCT uptake included inviting couples (aOR=1.2; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.4) versus individuals; the woman (aOR=1.6; 95% CI 1.2 to 2.2) or couple (aOR=1.4; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.8) initiating contact versus the INA; the couple being socially acquainted with the INA (aOR=1.6; 95% CI 1.4 to 1.9) versus having just met; home invitation delivery (aOR=1.3; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.5) versus elsewhere; and easy invitation delivery (aOR=1.8; 95% CI 1.4 to 2.2) versus difficult as reported by the INA.
This study demonstrated the ability of influential people to promote CVCT and identified agent, couple and context-level factors associated with CVCT uptake in Lusaka, Zambia. We encourage the development of CVCT promotions in other sub-Saharan African countries to support sustained CVCT dissemination.
To determine population-based stillbirth rates and to determine whether the timing and maturity of the stillbirths suggest a high proportion of potentially preventable deaths.
Prospective observational study.
Communities in six low-income countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala, India, and Pakistan) and one site in a mid-income country (Argentina).
Pregnant women residing in the study communities.
Over a five-year period, in selected catchment areas, using multiple methodologies, trained study staff obtained pregnancy outcomes on each delivery in their area.
Main outcome measures
Pregnancy outcome, stillbirth characteristics.
Outcomes of 195 400 deliveries were included. Stillbirth rates ranged from 32 per 1 000 in Pakistan to 8 per 1 000 births in Argentina. Three-fourths (76%) of stillbirth off-spring were not macerated, 63% were ≥37 weeks and 48% weighed 2 500g or more. Across all sites, women with no education, of high and low parity, of older age, and without access to antenatal care were at significantly greater risk for stillbirth (p<0.001). Compared to those delivered by a physician, women delivered by nurses and traditional birth attendants had a lower risk of stillbirth.
In these low-middle income countries, most stillbirth offspring were not macerated, were reported as ≥37 weeks’ gestation, and almost half weighed at least 2 500g. With access to better medical care, especially in the intrapartum period, many of these stillbirths could likely be prevented.
Developing countries; intrapartum stillbirth; stillbirth
Nearly half the world’s babies are born at home. We sought to evaluate the training, knowledge, skills, and access to medical equipment and testing for home birth attendants across 7 international sites.
Face-to-face interviews were done by trained interviewers to assess level of training, knowledge and practices regarding care during the antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum periods. The survey was administered to a sample of birth attendants conducting home or out-of-facility deliveries in 7 sites in 6 countries (India, Pakistan, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Zambia).
A total of 1226 home birth attendants were surveyed. Less than half the birth attendants were literate. Eighty percent had one month or less of formal training. Most home birth attendants did not have basic equipment (e.g., blood pressure apparatus, stethoscope, infant bag and mask manual resuscitator). Reporting of births and maternal and neonatal deaths to government agencies was low. Indian auxilliary nurse midwives, who perform some home but mainly clinic births, were far better trained and differed in many characteristics from the birth attendants who only performed deliveries at home.
Home birth attendants in low-income countries were often illiterate, could not read numbers and had little formal training. Most had few of the skills or access to tests, medications and equipment that are necessary to reduce maternal, fetal or neonatal mortality.
Home births; Traditional birth attendants; Perinatal mortality
To determine the cost-effectiveness of the World Health Organization (WHO) Essential Newborn Care (ENC) training of health care providers in first-level facilities in the 2 largest cities in Zambia.
Data were extracted from a study in which the effectiveness of the ENC training was evaluated (including universal precautions and cleanliness, routine neonatal care, resuscitation, thermoregulation, breastfeeding, skin-to-skin care, care of the small infant, danger signs, and common illnesses). The costs to train an ENC instructor for each first-level delivery facility and the costs of salary/benefits for 2 coordinators responsible for maintenance of the program were recorded in 2005 US dollars. The incremental costs per life gained and per disability-adjusted life-year averted were calculated.
A 5-day ENC training-of-trainers was conducted in Lusaka, Zambia, to certify 18 college-trained midwives as ENC instructors. The instructors trained all clinic midwives working in their first-level facilities as part of a before-and-after study of the effect of ENC training on early neonatal mortality conducted from Oct 2004 to Nov 2006.
All-cause 7-day (early) neonatal mortality decreased from 11.5 per 1000 to 6.8 per 1000 live births after ENC training of the clinic midwives (relative risk: 0.59; 95% confidence interval: 0.48–0.77; P < .001; 40 615 births). The intervention costs were $208 per life saved and $5.24 per disability-adjusted life-year averted.
ENC training of clinic midwives who provide care in low-risk facilities is a low-cost intervention that can reduce early neonatal mortality in these settings.
developing countries; low-middle income countries; neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; midwives
Countries facing high HIV prevalence often also experience high levels of fertility and low contraceptive use, suggesting high levels of unmet need for contraceptive services. In particular, the unique needs of couples with one or both partners HIV positive are largely missing from many current family planning efforts, which focus on the prevention of pregnancies in the absence of reduction of the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
This article presents an examination of contraceptive method uptake among a cohort of HIV serodiscordant and concordant positive study participants in Zambia.
Baseline contraceptive use was low; however, exposure to a video-based intervention that provided information on contraceptive methods and modeled desirable future planning behaviors dramatically increased the uptake of modern contraceptive methods.
Including information on family planning in voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services in addition to tailoring the delivery of family planning information to meet the needs and concerns of HIV-positive women or those with HIV-positive partners is an essential step in the delivery of services and prevention efforts to reduce the transmission of HIV. Family planning and HIV prevention programs should integrate counseling on dual method use, combining condoms for HIV/STI prevention with a long-acting contraceptive for added protection against unplanned pregnancy.
HIV-1 superinfection occurs at varying frequencies in different at risk populations. Though seroincidence is decreased, in the negative partner of HIV-discordant couples after joint testing and counseling in the Zambia Emory HIV Research Project (ZEHRP) cohort, the annual infection rate remains relatively high at 7-8%. Based on sequencing within the gp41 region of each partner's virus, 24% of new infections between 2004 and 2008 were the result of transmission from a non-spousal partner. Since these seroconvertors and their spouses have disparate epidemiologically-unlinked viruses, there is a risk of superinfection within the marriage. We have, therefore, investigated the incidence and viral origin of superinfection in these couples.
Superinfection was detected by heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA), degenerate base counting of the gp41 sequence, or by phylogenetic analysis of the longitudinal sequences. It was confirmed by full-length env single genome amplification and phylogenetic analysis. In 22 couples (44 individuals), followed for up to five years, three of the newly infected (initially HIV uninfected) partners became superinfected. In each case superinfection occurred during the first 12 months following initial infection of the negative partner, and in each case the superinfecting virus was derived from a non-spousal partner. In addition, one probable case of intra-couple HIV-1 superinfection was observed in a chronically infected partner at the time of his seroconverting spouse's initial viremia. Extensive recombination within the env gene was observed following superinfection.
In this subtype-C discordant couple cohort, superinfection, during the first year after HIV-1 infection of the previously negative partner, occurred at a rate similar to primary infection (13.6% [95% CI 5.2-34.8] vs 7.8% [7.1-8.6]). While limited intra-couple superinfection may in part reflect continued condom usage within couples, this and our lack of detecting newly superinfected individuals after one year of primary infection raise the possibility that immunological resistance to intra-subtype superinfection may develop over time in subtype C infected individuals.
Epilepsy-associated stigma in Africa has been largely described in terms of enacted stigma or discrimination. We conducted a study of 169 adults with epilepsy attending epilepsy clinics in Zambia’s Lusaka or Southern province using a 3-item instrument (maximum score 3). Potential determinants of felt stigma including age, gender, education, wealth, disclosure status (meaning whether or how their community members knew of their condition), seizure type (generalized vs. partial), seizure frequency, the presence of visible epilepsy-associated stigmata, personal contagion beliefs and community contagion beliefs were also assessed. The median stigma score was 2.5, suggesting some ceiling effect in the instrument. People with epilepsy who believed their condition to be contagious, who thought their community believed epilepsy to be contagious and whose condition had been revealed to their community against their wishes reported more felt stigma. Community and clinic-based educational campaigns to dispel contagion beliefs are needed.
contagion beliefs; disclosure; stigmata; felt stigma; epilepsy
There is limited data on the effect of HIV status and CD4 counts on performance of Interferon-g Release assays (IGRAs) for diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI).
A cross sectional study was conducted to assess the prevalence of and risk factors for a positive diagnostic test for LTBI, using tuberculin skin test (TST) and IGRAs among HIV-discordant couples in Zambia.
A total of 596 subjects (298 couples) were enrolled. Median CD4 count among HIV positive persons was 388 cells/μl, (range 51-1330). HIV negative persons were more likely than their HIV positive partner, to have a positive diagnostic test for LTBI with TST (203 vs 128), QFT (171 vs 109) and TSPOT (156 vs. 109). On multivariate analysis, HIV negative status was an independent predictor for a positive QFT (OR = 2.22, 95% CI 1.42- 3.46) and TSPOT (OR = 1.79, 95% CI 1.16-2.77). Among HIV positive subjects a CD4 count ≥ 388 cells/μl was associated with a positive TST (OR = 1.76 95% CI 1.10-2.82) and QFT (OR = 1.71 95% CI 1.06-2.77) but not TSPOT (OR = 1.20 95% CI 0.74-1.94).
Persons with HIV had significantly fewer positive diagnostic tests for LTBI with TST, QFT and TSPOT. Persons with a CD4 count < 388 cells/μl were less likely to have a positive TST or QFT, but not less likely to have a positive TSPOT. TSPOT may perform better than TST or QFT in HIV positive individuals.
Sexual violence against children is a major global health and human rights problem. In order to address this issue there needs to be a better understanding of the issue and the consequences. One major challenge in accomplishing this goal has been a lack of validated child mental health assessments in low-resource countries where the prevalence of sexual violence is high. This paper presents results from a validation study of a trauma-focused mental health assessment tool - the UCLA Post-traumatic Stress Disorder - Reaction Index (PTSD-RI) in Zambia.
The PTSD-RI was adapted through the addition of locally relevant items and validated using local responses to three cross-cultural criterion validity questions. Reliability of the symptoms scale was assessed using Cronbach alpha analyses. Discriminant validity was assessed comparing mean scale scores of cases and non-cases. Concurrent validity was assessed comparing mean scale scores to a traumatic experience index. Sensitivity and specificity analyses were run using receiver operating curves.
Analysis of data from 352 youth attending a clinic specializing in sexual abuse showed that this adapted PTSD-RI demonstrated good reliability, with Cronbach alpha scores greater than .90 on all the evaluated scales. The symptom scales were able to statistically significantly discriminate between locally identified cases and non-cases, and higher symptom scale scores were associated with increased numbers of trauma exposures which is an indication of concurrent validity. Sensitivity and specificity analyses resulted in an adequate area under the curve, indicating that this tool was appropriate for case definition.
This study has shown that validating mental health assessment tools in a low-resource country is feasible, and that by taking the time to adapt a measure to the local context, a useful and valid Zambian version of the PTSD-RI was developed to detect traumatic stress among youth. This valid tool can now be used to appropriately measure treatment effectiveness, and more effectively and efficiently triage youth to appropriate services.
PTSD; assessment validation; children; low resource country; mental health
Recent concerns regarding antiepileptic drug (AED) availability in Zambia led us to conduct a study in the Lusaka and Southern Provinces to quantify the availability and cost of AEDs and assess determinants. Among 111 pharmacies, almost one-half did not carry AEDs (N = 54; 49.1%). Available AEDs were phenobarbitone (21; 18.9%), carbamazepine (27; 24.3%), valproic acid (4; 3.6%), and phenytoin (3; 2.7%). Adult out-of-pocket monthly costs ranged from US $7 to $30. Pediatric syrups were universally unavailable. Interviews revealed several barriers to AED provision, including that handling phenobarbitone (historically the most affordable AED) has become increasingly difficult because of newly enforced regulatory requirements. Personal communications with epilepsy-care providers in other low income countries suggest that this problem may be widespread. Improved enforcement of existing drug regulations may be contributing to the AED shortage. Social programs aimed at encouraging people with epilepsy to come “out of the shadows” must be preceded by improved AED access.
Because of a physician shortage in many low-income countries, the use of nonphysicians to classify perinatal mortality (stillbirth and early neonatal death) using verbal autopsy could be useful.
To determine the extent to which underlying perinatal causes of deaths assigned by nonphysicians in Guatemala, Pakistan, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo using a verbal autopsy method are concordant with underlying perinatal cause of death assigned by physician panels.
Using a train-the-trainer model, 13 physicians and 40 nonphysicians were trained to determine cause of death using a standardized verbal autopsy training program. Subsequently, panels of two physicians and individual nonphysicians from this trained cohort independently reviewed verbal autopsy data from a sample of 118 early neonatal deaths and 134 stillbirths. With the cause of death assigned by the physician panel as the reference standard, sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and cause-specific mortality fractions were calculated to assess nonphysicians' coding responses. Robustness criteria to assess how well nonphysicians performed were used.
Causes of early neonatal death and stillbirth assigned by nonphysicians were concordant with physician-assigned causes 47% and 57% of the time, respectively. Tetanus filled robustness criteria for early neonatal death, and cord prolapse filled robustness criteria for stillbirth.
There are significant differences in underlying cause of death as determined by physicians and nonphysicians even when they receive similar training in cause of death determination. Currently, it does not appear that nonphysicians can be used reliably to assign underlying cause of perinatal death using verbal autopsy.
Most incident HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa occur between cohabiting, discordant, heterosexual couples. Though couples' voluntary HIV counseling and testing (CVCT) is an effective, well-studied intervention in Africa, <1% of couples have been jointly tested.
We conducted cross-sectional household surveys in Kigali, Rwanda (n = 600) and Lusaka, Zambia (n = 603) to ascertain knowledge, perceptions, and barriers to use of CVCT.
Compared to Lusaka, Kigali respondents were significantly more aware of HIV testing sites (79% vs. 56%); had greater knowledge of HIV serodiscordance between couples (83% vs. 43%); believed CVCT is good (96% vs. 72%); and were willing to test jointly (91% vs. 47%). Stigma, fear of partner reaction, and distance/cost/logistics were CVCT barriers.
Though most respondents had positive attitudes toward CVCT, the majority were unaware that serodiscordance between cohabiting couples is possible. Future messages should target gaps in knowledge about serodiscordance, provide logistical information about CVCT services, and aim to reduce stigma and fear.
Many HIV voluntary testing and counselling centres in Africa use rapid antibody tests, in parallel or in sequence, to establish same-day HIV status. The interpretation of indeterminate or discrepant results between different rapid tests on one sample poses a challenge. We investigated the use of an algorithm using three serial rapid HIV tests in cohabiting couples to resolve unclear serostatuses.
Heterosexual couples visited the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group testing centres in Kigali, Rwanda, and Lusaka, Zambia, to assess HIV infection status. Individuals with unclear HIV rapid antibody test results (indeterminate) or discrepant results were asked to return for repeat testing to resolve HIV status. If either partner of a couple tested positive or indeterminate with the screening test, both partners were tested with a confirmatory test. Individuals with indeterminate or discrepant results were further tested with a tie-breaker and monthly retesting. HIV-RNA viral load was determined when HIV status was not resolved by follow-up rapid testing. Individuals were classified based on two of three initial tests as "Positive", "Negative" or "Other". Follow-up testing and/or HIV-RNA viral load testing determined them as "Infected", "Uninfected" or "Unresolved".
Of 45,820 individuals tested as couples, 2.3% (4.1% of couples) had at least one discrepant or indeterminate rapid result. A total of 65% of those individuals had follow-up testing and of those individuals initially classified as "Negative" by three initial rapid tests, less than 1% were resolved as "Infected". In contrast, of those individuals with at least one discrepant or indeterminate result who were initially classified as "Positive", only 46% were resolved as "Infected", while the remainder was resolved as "Uninfected" (46%) or "Unresolved" (8%). A positive HIV serostatus of one of the partners was a strong predictor of infection in the other partner as 48% of individuals who resolved as "Infected" had an HIV-infected spouse.
In more than 45,000 individuals counselled and tested as couples, only 5% of individuals with indeterminate or discrepant rapid HIV test results were HIV infected. This represented only 0.1% of all individuals tested. Thus, algorithms using screening, confirmatory and tie-breaker rapid tests are reliable with two of three tests negative, but not when two of three tests are positive. False positive antibody tests may persist. HIV-positive partner serostatus should prompt repeat testing.