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1.  The HVTN503/Phambili HIV vaccine trial: a comparison of younger and older participants 
By comparing younger to older participants enrolled in a HIV vaccine efficacy trial, we aimed to gain insights into the inclusion of adolescents in future trials. This was a sub-analysis of a multisite HIV vaccine randomized clinical trial in South Africa, conducted January-September, 2007. Motivations for trial enrollment, social harms, adverse events, and loss to follow-up were compared between younger (18-20 years old) and older participants (21-35 years old). Both younger (n=238) and older participants (n=563) were equally likely to report enrolling for altruistic reasons. Younger females were less likely than older participants to join for trial reimbursement (p=0.005), while younger males were more likely to enroll because the vaccine may provide protection from HIV-acquisition (p<0.001). There were no significant differences in the number of social harms reported. Compared to males over 20 years-old, 18-20-year-old females were less likely to experience adverse events (OR=0.1, CI 0.01-0.80) and no more likely to be lost to follow up (OR=0.7, CI 0.39-1.25), while 18-20-year-old males were no more likely to experience adverse events (OR=1.3, CI 0.58-2.83) or loss to follow-up (OR=0.8, CI 0.51-1.41). Our data support the inclusion of younger participants who are at risk for HIV in future HIV vaccine efficacy trials.
doi:10.1177/0956462413506892
PMCID: PMC3968181  PMID: 24104693
HIV; vaccine trials; clinical trials; youth; South Africa
2.  LILRB2 Interaction with HLA Class I Correlates with Control of HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004196.
Natural progression of HIV-1 infection depends on genetic variation in the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I locus, and the CD8+ T cell response is thought to be a primary mechanism of this effect. However, polymorphism within the MHC may also alter innate immune activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) by changing interactions of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules with leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors (LILR), a group of immunoregulatory receptors mainly expressed on myelomonocytic cells including dendritic cells (DCs). We used previously characterized HLA allotype-specific binding capacities of LILRB1 and LILRB2 as well as data from a large cohort of HIV-1-infected individuals (N = 5126) to test whether LILR-HLA class I interactions influence viral load in HIV-1 infection. Our analyses in persons of European descent, the largest ethnic group examined, show that the effect of HLA-B alleles on HIV-1 control correlates with the binding strength between corresponding HLA-B allotypes and LILRB2 (p = 10−2). Moreover, overall binding strength of LILRB2 to classical HLA class I allotypes, defined by the HLA-A/B/C genotypes in each patient, positively associates with viral replication in the absence of therapy in patients of both European (p = 10−11–10−9) and African (p = 10−5–10−3) descent. This effect appears to be driven by variations in LILRB2 binding affinities to HLA-B and is independent of individual class I allelic effects that are not related to the LILRB2 function. Correspondingly, in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of DCs. Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 disease outcomes through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
Author Summary
Leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors B1 and B2 (LILRB1 and LILRB2) bind HLA class I allotypes with variable affinities. Here, we show that the binding strength of LILRB2 to HLA class I positively associates with level of viremia in a large cohort of untreated HIV-1-infected patients. This effect appears to be driven by HLA-B polymorphism and demonstrates independence from class I allelic effects on viral load. Our in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of dendritic cells (DCs). Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 immune control through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004196
PMCID: PMC3945438  PMID: 24603468
3.  Early Experiences Implementing Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV Prevention in San Francisco 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001613.
Albert Liu and colleagues report early experiences with uptake and delivery of pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP)for HIV prevention in three different settings in San Francisco. PrEP can be an important component of a comprehensive HIV prevention program and can complement efforts to increase HIV testing, linkage to care, and early initiation of antiretroviral therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001613
PMCID: PMC3942317  PMID: 24595035
4.  Concomitant Socioeconomic, Behavioral, and Biological Factors Associated with the Disproportionate HIV Infection Burden among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in 6 U.S. Cities 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87298.
Background
American Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV, but the factors associated with this concentrated epidemic are not fully understood.
Methods
Black MSM were enrolled in 6 US cities to evaluate a multi-component prevention intervention, with the current analysis focusing on the correlates of being newly diagnosed with HIV compared to being HIV-uninfected or previously diagnosed with HIV.
Results
HPTN 061 enrolled 1553 Black MSM whose median age was 40; 30% self-identified exclusively as gay or homosexual, 29% exclusively as bisexual, and 3% as transgender. About 1/6th (16.2%) were previously diagnosed with HIV (PD); of 1263 participants without a prior HIV diagnosis 7.6% were newly diagnosed (ND). Compared to PD, ND Black MSM were younger (p<0.001); less likely to be living with a primary partner (p<0.001); more likely to be diagnosed with syphilis (p<0.001), rectal gonorrhea (p = 0.011) or chlamydia (p = 0.020). Compared to HIV-uninfected Black MSM, ND were more likely to report unprotected receptive anal intercourse (URAI) with a male partner in the last 6 months (p<0.001); and to be diagnosed with syphilis (p<0.001), rectal gonorrhea (p = 0.004), and urethral (p = 0.025) or rectal chlamydia (p<0.001). They were less likely to report female (p = 0.002) or transgender partners (p = 0.018). Multivariate logistic regression analyses found that ND Black MSM were significantly more likely than HIV-uninfected peers to be unemployed; have STIs, and engage in URAI. Almost half the men in each group were poor, had depressive symptoms, and expressed internalized homophobia.
Conclusions
ND HIV-infected Black MSM were more likely to be unemployed, have bacterial STIs and engage in URAI than other Black MSM. Culturally-tailored programs that address economic disenfranchisement, increase engagement in care, screen for STIs, in conjunction with safer sex prevention interventions, may help to decrease further transmission in this heavily affected community.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087298
PMCID: PMC3909083  PMID: 24498067
5.  HIV Incidence Determination in the United States: A Multiassay Approach 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(2):232-239.
Background. Accurate testing algorithms are needed for estimating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) incidence from cross-sectional surveys.
Methods. We developed a multiassay algorithm (MAA) for HIV incidence that includes the BED capture enzyme immunoassay (BED-CEIA), an antibody avidity assay, HIV load, and CD4+ T-cell count. We analyzed 1782 samples from 709 individuals in the United States who had a known duration of HIV infection (range, 0 to >8 years). Logistic regression with cubic splines was used to compare the performance of the MAA to the BED-CEIA and to determine the window period of the MAA. We compared the annual incidence estimated with the MAA to the annual incidence based on HIV seroconversion in a longitudinal cohort.
Results. The MAA had a window period of 141 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 94–150) and a very low false-recent misclassification rate (only 0.4% of 1474 samples from subjects infected for >1 year were misclassified as indicative of recent infection). In a cohort study, annual incidence based on HIV seroconversion was 1.04% (95% CI, .70%–1.55%). The incidence estimate obtained using the MAA was essentially identical: 0.97% (95% CI, .51%–1.71%).
Conclusions. The MAA is as sensitive for detecting recent HIV infection as the BED-CEIA and has a very low rate of false-recent misclassification. It provides a powerful tool for cross-sectional HIV incidence determination.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis659
PMCID: PMC3532826  PMID: 23129760
HIV; incidence testing; United States; epidemiology
6.  Strong Relationship between Oral Dose and Tenofovir Hair Levels in a Randomized Trial: Hair as a Potential Adherence Measure for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83736.
Background
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials using tenofovir-based regimens have demonstrated that high levels of adherence are required to evaluate efficacy; the incorporation of objective biomarkers of adherence in trial design has been essential to interpretation, given the inaccuracy of self-report. Antiretroviral measurements in scalp hair have been useful as a marker of long-term exposure in the HIV treatment setting, and hair samples are relatively easy and inexpensive to collect, transport, and store for analysis. To evaluate the relationship between dose and tenofovir concentrations in hair, we examined the dose proportionality of tenofovir in hair in healthy, HIV-uninfected adults.
Methods
A phase I, crossover pharmacokinetic study was performed in 24 HIV-negative adults receiving directly-observed oral tenofovir tablets administered 2, 4, and 7 doses/week for 6 weeks, with a ≥3-week break between periods. Small samples of hair were collected after each six-week period and analyzed for tenofovir concentrations. Geometric-mean-ratios compared levels between each pair of dosing conditions. Intensive plasma pharmacokinetic studies were performed during the daily-dosing period to calculate areas-under-the-time-concentration curves (AUCs).
Results
Over 90% of doses were observed per protocol. Median tenofovir concentrations in hair increased monotonically with dose. A log-linear relationship was seen between dose and hair levels, with an estimated 76% (95% CI 60–93%) increase in hair level per 2-fold dose increase. Tenofovir plasma AUCs modestly predicted drug concentrations in hair.
Conclusions
This study found a strong linear relationship between frequency of dosing and tenofovir levels in scalp hair. The analysis of quantitative drug levels in hair has the potential to improve adherence measurement in the PrEP field and may be helpful in determining exposure thresholds for protection and explaining failures in PrEP trials. Hair measures for adherence monitoring may also facilitate adherence measurement in real-world settings and merit further investigation in upcoming PrEP implementation studies and programs.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov +NCT00903084.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083736
PMCID: PMC3885443  PMID: 24421901
7.  Performance of a Limiting-Antigen Avidity Enzyme Immunoassay for Cross-Sectional Estimation of HIV Incidence in the United States 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82772.
Background
A limiting antigen avidity enzyme immunoassay (HIV-1 LAg-Avidity assay) was recently developed for cross-sectional HIV incidence estimation. We evaluated the performance of the LAg-Avidity assay alone and in multi-assay algorithms (MAAs) that included other biomarkers.
Methods and Findings
Performance of testing algorithms was evaluated using 2,282 samples from individuals in the United States collected 1 month to >8 years after HIV seroconversion. The capacity of selected testing algorithms to accurately estimate incidence was evaluated in three longitudinal cohorts. When used in a single-assay format, the LAg-Avidity assay classified some individuals infected >5 years as assay positive and failed to provide reliable incidence estimates in cohorts that included individuals with long-term infections. We evaluated >500,000 testing algorithms, that included the LAg-Avidity assay alone and MAAs with other biomarkers (BED capture immunoassay [BED-CEIA], BioRad-Avidity assay, HIV viral load, CD4 cell count), varying the assays and assay cutoffs. We identified an optimized 2-assay MAA that included the LAg-Avidity and BioRad-Avidity assays, and an optimized 4-assay MAA that included those assays, as well as HIV viral load and CD4 cell count. The two optimized MAAs classified all 845 samples from individuals infected >5 years as MAA negative and estimated incidence within a year of sample collection. These two MAAs produced incidence estimates that were consistent with those from longitudinal follow-up of cohorts. A comparison of the laboratory assay costs of the MAAs was also performed, and we found that the costs associated with the optimal two assay MAA were substantially less than with the four assay MAA.
Conclusions
The LAg-Avidity assay did not perform well in a single-assay format, regardless of the assay cutoff. MAAs that include the LAg-Avidity and BioRad-Avidity assays, with or without viral load and CD4 cell count, provide accurate incidence estimates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082772
PMCID: PMC3873916  PMID: 24386116
8.  No Evidence of Sexual Risk Compensation in the iPrEx Trial of Daily Oral HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81997.
Objective
Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) reduced HIV acquisition in the iPrEx trial among men who have sex with men and transgender women. Self-reported sexual risk behavior decreased overall, but may be affected by reporting bias. We evaluated potential risk compensation using biomarkers of sexual risk behavior.
Design and methods
Sexual practices were assessed at baseline and quarterly thereafter; perceived treatment assignment and PrEP efficacy beliefs were assessed at 12 weeks. Among participants with ≥1 follow-up behavioral assessment, sexual behavior, syphilis, and HIV infection were compared by perceived treatment assignment, actual treatment assignment, and perceived PrEP efficacy.
Results
Overall, acute HIV infection and syphilis decreased during follow-up. Compared with participants believing they were receiving placebo, participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF reported more receptive anal intercourse partners prior to initiating drug (12.8 vs. 7.7, P = 0.04). Belief in receiving FTC/TDF was not associated with an increase in receptive anal intercourse with no condom (ncRAI) from baseline through follow-up (risk ratio [RR] 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.6–1.4; P = 0.75), nor with a decrease after stopping study drug (RR 0.8, 95% CI: 0.5–1.3; P = 0.46). In the placebo arm, there were trends toward lower HIV incidence among participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.8, 95% CI: 0.4–1.8; P = 0.26) and also believing it was highly effective (IRR 0.5, 95% CI: 0.1–1.7; P = 0.12).
Conclusions
There was no evidence of sexual risk compensation in iPrEx. Participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF had more partners prior to initiating drug, suggesting that risk behavior was not a consequence of PrEP use.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081997
PMCID: PMC3867330  PMID: 24367497
9.  Influence of HLA-C Expression Level on HIV Control 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;340(6128):87-91.
A variant upstream of human leukocyte antigen C (HLA-C) shows the most significant genome-wide effect on HIV control in European Americans and is also associated with the level of HLA-C expression. We characterized the differential cell surface expression levels of all common HLA-C allotypes and tested directly for effects of HLA-C expression on outcomes of HIV infection in 5243 individuals. Increasing HLA-C expression was associated with protection against multiple outcomes independently of individual HLA allelic effects in both African and European Americans, regardless of their distinct HLA-C frequencies and linkage relationships with HLA-B and HLA-A. Higher HLA-C expression was correlated with increased likelihood of cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses and frequency of viral escape mutation. In contrast, high HLA-C expression had a deleterious effect in Crohn’s disease, suggesting a broader influence of HLA expression levels in human disease.
doi:10.1126/science.1232685
PMCID: PMC3784322  PMID: 23559252
10.  Sexual frequency and planning among at-risk men who have sex with men (MSM) in the US: implications for event-based intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP) 
Intermittent dosing of pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP) has potential to decrease costs, improve adherence, and minimize toxicity. Practical event-based dosing of iPrEP requires men who have sex with men (MSM) to be sexually active on fewer than 3 days each week and plan for sexual activity. MSM who may be most suitable for event-based dosing were older, more educated, more frequently used sexual networking websites, and more often reported that their last sexual encounter was not with a committed partner. A substantial proportion of these MSM endorse high-risk sexual activity, and event-based iPrEP may best target this population.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31825bd87d
PMCID: PMC3427423  PMID: 22592590
intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP); pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); event-based dosing; men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM); HIV; sexual frequency; sexual planning
11.  Sexual risk behaviors, circumcision status and pre-existing immunity to adenovirus type 5 among men who have sex with men participating in a randomized HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial: Step Study 
Background
The Step Study found that men who had sex with men (MSM) who received an adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) vector-based vaccine and were uncircumcised or had prior Ad5 immunity had a higher HIV incidence than MSM who received placebo. We investigated whether differences in HIV exposure, measured by reported sexual risk behaviors, may explain the increased risk.
Methods
Among 1,764 MSM in the trial, 724 were uncircumcised, 994 had prior Ad5 immunity and 560 were both uncircumcised and had prior Ad5 immunity. Analyses compared sexual risk behaviors and perceived treatment assignment among vaccine and placebo recipients, determined risk factors for HIV acquisition and examined the role of insertive anal intercourse in HIV risk among uncircumcised men.
Findings
Few sexual risk behaviors were significantly higher in vaccine vs. placebo recipients at baseline or during follow-up. Among uncircumcised men, vaccine recipients at baseline were more likely to report unprotected insertive anal intercourse with HIV negative partners (25.0% vs. 18.1%; p=0.03). Among uncircumcised men who had prior Ad5 immunity, vaccine recipients were more likely to report unprotected insertive anal intercourse with partners of unknown HIV status (46.0% vs. 37.5%; p=0.05). Vaccine recipients remained at higher risk of HIV infection compared to placebo recipients (HR =2.8; 95% CI:1.7, 6.8) controlling for potential confounders.
Interpretation
These analyses do not support a behavioral explanation for the increased HIV infection rates observed among uncircumcised men in the Step Study. Identifying biologic mechanisms to explain the increased risk is a priority.
This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00095576.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31825325aa
PMCID: PMC3392543  PMID: 22421748
HIV vaccines; gay men; sexual behaviors
12.  Correlates of HIV Acquisition in a Cohort of Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in the United States: HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 061 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70413.
Background
Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States (US) are affected by HIV at disproportionate rates compared to MSM of other race/ethnicities. Current HIV incidence estimates in this group are needed to appropriately target prevention efforts.
Methods
From July 2009 to October 2010, Black MSM reporting unprotected anal intercourse with a man in the past six months were enrolled and followed for one year in six US cities for a feasibility study of a multi-component intervention to reduce HIV infection. HIV incidence based on HIV seroconversion was calculated as number of events/100 person-years. Multivariate proportional hazards modeling with time-dependent covariates was used to identify correlates of HIV acquisition.
Results
Of 1,553 Black MSM enrolled, 1,164 were HIV-uninfected at baseline and included in follow-up. Overall annual HIV incidence was 3.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.0, 4.4%) and 5.9% among men ≤30 years old (95% CI: 3.6, 9.1%). Men ≤30 years old reported significantly higher levels of sexual risk and were more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection diagnosed during follow-up. Younger men also were more likely to not have a usual place for health care, not have visited a health care provider recently, and to have unmet health care needs. In multivariate analysis, age ≤30 years (hazard ratio (HR): 3.4; 95% CI: 1.4, 8.3) and unprotected receptive anal intercourse with HIV-positive or unknown status partners (HR: 4.1; 95% CI: 1.9, 9.1) were significantly associated with HIV acquisition.
Conclusion
In the largest cohort of prospectively-followed Black MSM in the US, HIV incidence was high, particularly among young men. Targeted, tailored and culturally appropriate HIV prevention strategies incorporating behavioral, social and biomedical based interventions are urgently needed to lower these rates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070413
PMCID: PMC3724810  PMID: 23922989
13.  Association Study of Common Genetic Variants and HIV-1 Acquisition in 6,300 Infected Cases and 7,200 Controls 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(7):e1003515.
Multiple genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been performed in HIV-1 infected individuals, identifying common genetic influences on viral control and disease course. Similarly, common genetic correlates of acquisition of HIV-1 after exposure have been interrogated using GWAS, although in generally small samples. Under the auspices of the International Collaboration for the Genomics of HIV, we have combined the genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data collected by 25 cohorts, studies, or institutions on HIV-1 infected individuals and compared them to carefully matched population-level data sets (a list of all collaborators appears in Note S1 in Text S1). After imputation using the 1,000 Genomes Project reference panel, we tested approximately 8 million common DNA variants (SNPs and indels) for association with HIV-1 acquisition in 6,334 infected patients and 7,247 population samples of European ancestry. Initial association testing identified the SNP rs4418214, the C allele of which is known to tag the HLA-B*57:01 and B*27:05 alleles, as genome-wide significant (p = 3.6×10−11). However, restricting analysis to individuals with a known date of seroconversion suggested that this association was due to the frailty bias in studies of lethal diseases. Further analyses including testing recessive genetic models, testing for bulk effects of non-genome-wide significant variants, stratifying by sexual or parenteral transmission risk and testing previously reported associations showed no evidence for genetic influence on HIV-1 acquisition (with the exception of CCR5Δ32 homozygosity). Thus, these data suggest that genetic influences on HIV acquisition are either rare or have smaller effects than can be detected by this sample size.
Author Summary
Comparing the frequency differences between common DNA variants in disease-affected cases and in unaffected controls has been successful in uncovering the genetic component of multiple diseases. This approach is most effective when large samples of cases and controls are available. Here we combine information from multiple studies of HIV infected patients, including more than 6,300 HIV+ individuals, with data from 7,200 general population samples of European ancestry to test nearly 8 million common DNA variants for an impact on HIV acquisition. With this large sample we did not observe any single common genetic variant that significantly associated with HIV acquisition. We further tested 22 variants previously identified by smaller studies as influencing HIV acquisition. With the exception of a deletion polymorphism in the CCR5 gene (CCR5Δ32) we found no convincing evidence to support these previous associations. Taken together these data suggest that genetic influences on HIV acquisition are either rare or have smaller effects than can be detected by this sample size.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003515
PMCID: PMC3723635  PMID: 23935489
14.  Emtricitabine-tenofovir exposure and pre-exposure prophylaxis efficacy in men who have sex with men 
Science translational medicine  2012;4(151):151ra125.
Drug concentrations associated with protection from HIV-1 acquisition have not been determined. This study evaluated drug concentrations among men who have sex with men in a substudy of the iPrEx trial,(1) a randomized placebo controlled trial of daily oral emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Any detectable drug in blood plasma and viably cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (vPBMCs) was less frequent in HIV-infected cases at the visit when HIV was first discovered compared with controls at the matched time point of the study (8% vs 44%, P<0.001) and in the 90 days prior to that visit (11% vs 51%, P<0.001). An intracellular tenofovir-diphosphate (TFV-DP) concentration of 16 fmol per million vPBMCs was associated with a 90% reduction in HIV acquisition relative to the placebo arm. Directly observed dosing in a separate study, STRAND, yielded TFV-DP concentrations that, when analyzed with this iPrEx model, corresponded with HIV-1 risk reduction of 76% for 2 doses per week, 96% for 4 doses per week, 99% for 7 doses per week. Prophylactic benefits were observed over a range of doses and drug concentrations, suggesting ways to optimize PrEP regimens for this population.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3004006
PMCID: PMC3721979  PMID: 22972843
15.  Correction: What Drives the US and Peruvian HIV Epidemics in Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):10.1371/annotation/9a6a0c8e-2d01-4f36-9ab8-f9fdfce6497b.
doi:10.1371/annotation/9a6a0c8e-2d01-4f36-9ab8-f9fdfce6497b
PMCID: PMC3714381
16.  Extended Follow-up Confirms Early Vaccine-Enhanced Risk of HIV Acquisition and Demonstrates Waning Effect Over Time Among Participants in a Randomized Trial of Recombinant Adenovirus HIV Vaccine (Step Study) 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(2):258-266.
Background. The Step Study tested whether an adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)–vectored human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine could prevent HIV acquisition and/or reduce viral load set-point after infection. At the first interim analysis, nonefficacy criteria were met. Vaccinations were halted; participants were unblinded. In post hoc analyses, more HIV infections occurred in vaccinees vs placebo recipients in men who had Ad5-neutralizing antibodies and/or were uncircumcised. Follow-up was extended to assess relative risk of HIV acquisition in vaccinees vs placebo recipients over time.
Methods. We used Cox proportional hazard models for analyses of vaccine effect on HIV acquisition and vaccine effect modifiers, and nonparametric and semiparametric methods for analysis of constancy of relative risk over time.
Results. One hundred seventy-two of 1836 men were infected. The adjusted vaccinees vs placebo recipients hazard ratio (HR) for all follow-up time was 1.40 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–1.92; P = .03). Vaccine effect differed by baseline Ad5 or circumcision status during first 18 months, but neither was significant for all follow-up time. The HR among uncircumcised and/or Ad5-seropositive men waned with time since vaccination. No significant vaccine-associated risk was seen among circumcised, Ad5-negative men (HR, 0.97; P = 1.0) over all follow-up time.
Conclusions. The vaccine-associated risk seen in interim analysis was confirmed but waned with time from vaccination.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00095576.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis342
PMCID: PMC3490694  PMID: 22561365
17.  APOBEC3B Deletion and Risk of HIV-1 Acquisition 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;200(7):1054-1058.
The human APOBEC3 family of cytidine deaminases provides intrinsic immunity to retroviral infection. A naturally occurring 29.5-kb deletion removes the entire APOBEC3B gene. We examined the impact of the APOBEC3B gene deletion in >4000 individuals from five HIV-1 natural history cohorts. The hemizygous genotype had no effect on either infection or progression. However, the homozygous deletion was significantly associated with unfavorable outcomes for HIV-1 acquisition (OR=7.37, P=0.024), progression to AIDS (RH = 4.01, P=0.03), and viral set-point (P=0.04). These findings suggest that the loss of APOBEC3B may increase host susceptibility to HIV-1/AIDS and warrant further study.
doi:10.1086/605644
PMCID: PMC3690486  PMID: 19698078
18.  HIV-1 Vaccine-Induced T-Cell Reponses Cluster in Epitope Hotspots that Differ from Those Induced in Natural Infection with HIV-1 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(6):e1003404.
Several recent large clinical trials evaluated HIV vaccine candidates that were based on recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd-5) vectors expressing HIV-derived antigens. These vaccines primarily elicited T-cell responses, which are known to be critical for controlling HIV infection. In the current study, we present a meta-analysis of epitope mapping data from 177 participants in three clinical trials that tested two different HIV vaccines: MRKAd-5 HIV and VRC-HIVAD014-00VP. We characterized the population-level epitope responses in these trials by generating population-based epitope maps, and also designed such maps using a large cohort of 372 naturally infected individuals. We used these maps to address several questions: (1) Are vaccine-induced responses randomly distributed across vaccine inserts, or do they cluster into immunodominant epitope hotspots? (2) Are the immunodominance patterns observed for these two vaccines in three vaccine trials different from one another? (3) Do vaccine-induced hotspots overlap with epitope hotspots induced by chronic natural infection with HIV-1? (4) Do immunodominant hotspots target evolutionarily conserved regions of the HIV genome? (5) Can epitope prediction methods be used to identify these hotspots? We found that vaccine responses clustered into epitope hotspots in all three vaccine trials and some of these hotspots were not observed in chronic natural infection. We also found significant differences between the immunodominance patterns generated in each trial, even comparing two trials that tested the same vaccine in different populations. Some of the vaccine-induced immunodominant hotspots were located in highly variable regions of the HIV genome, and this was more evident for the MRKAd-5 HIV vaccine. Finally, we found that epitope prediction methods can partially predict the location of vaccine-induced epitope hotspots. Our findings have implications for vaccine design and suggest a framework by which different vaccine candidates can be compared in early phases of evaluation.
Author Summary
The HIV epidemic is a major global health challenge leading to more than 1.8 million deaths annually, and despite significant efforts, the search for an efficacious and safe vaccine continues. Several candidate vaccines were designed to elicit CD8+ T-cell responses and were based on using recombinant Adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd-5) vector that expresses HIV-derived antigens. While none of these vaccines had protective effects, they provide an opportunity to study vaccine-induced T-cell responses on a population level. Here, we analyze data from the three largest epitope mapping studies performed in three clinical trials testing two rAd-5 vaccines. We find that vaccine-induced responses tend to cluster in “epitope hotspots” and that these hotspots are different for each vaccine and more surprisingly in two different vaccine trials testing the same vaccine. We also compared vaccine-induced hotspots to those elicited by natural infection and found that some of the vaccine-induced hotspots are not observed in natural infection. Finally, we show that epitope prediction methods can be useful for predicting vaccine induced hotspots based on participants HLA alleles.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003404
PMCID: PMC3688560  PMID: 23818843
19.  Preexisting Adenovirus Seropositivity Is Not Associated With Increased HIV-1 Acquisition in Three HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trials 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(12):1806-1810.
The Step study of a recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)–based human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine revealed an increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition in vaccinees who were Ad5 seropositive at baseline. We therefore investigated whether preexisting Ad seropositivity to 7 different Ad serotypes was associated with increased risk of HIV-1 infection in 3 HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials. In a case-control study involving 1570 adults enrolled in the VAX003 and VAX004 trials of a recombinant protein subunit HIV-1 vaccine and in the Step study, we observed that preexisting seropositivity to multiple Ad serotypes was not intrinsically associated with increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis285
PMCID: PMC3415893  PMID: 22492863
20.  Multicohort Genomewide Association Study Reveals a New Signal of Protection Against HIV-1 Acquisition 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(7):1155-1162.
Background. To date, only mutations in CCR5 have been shown to confer resistance to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, and these explain only a small fraction of the observed variability in HIV susceptibility.
Methods. We performed a meta-analysis between 2 independent European genomewide association studies, each comparing HIV-1 seropositive cases with normal population controls known to be HIV uninfected, to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the HIV-1 acquisition phenotype. SNPs exhibiting P < 10−5 in this first stage underwent second-stage analysis in 2 independent US cohorts of European descent.
Results. After the first stage, a single highly significant association was revealed for the chromosome 8 rs6996198 with HIV-1 acquisition and was replicated in both second-stage cohorts. Across the 4 groups, the rs6996198-T allele was consistently associated with a significant reduced risk of HIV-1 infection, and the global meta-analysis reached genomewide significance: Pcombined = 7.76 × 10−8.
Conclusions. We provide strong evidence of association for a common variant with HIV-1 acquisition in populations of European ancestry. This protective signal against HIV-1 infection is the first identified outside the CCR5 nexus. First clues point to a potential functional role for a nearby candidate gene, CYP7B1, but this locus warrants further investigation.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis028
PMCID: PMC3295605  PMID: 22362864
21.  What Drives the US and Peruvian HIV Epidemics in Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)? 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50522.
In this work, we estimate the proportions of transmissions occurring in main vs. casual partnerships, and by the sexual role, infection stage, and testing and treatment history of the infected partner, for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the US and Peru. We use dynamic, stochastic models based in exponential random graph models (ERGMs), obtaining inputs from multiple large-scale MSM surveys. Parallel main partnership and casual sexual networks are simulated. Each man is characterized by age, race, circumcision status, sexual role behavior, and propensity for unprotected anal intercourse (UAI); his history is modeled from entry into the adult population, with potential transitions including HIV infection, detection, treatment, AIDS diagnosis, and death. We implemented two model variants differing in assumptions about acute infectiousness, and assessed sensitivity to other key inputs. Our two models suggested that only 4–5% (Model 1) or 22–29% (Model 2) of HIV transmission results from contacts with acute-stage partners; the plurality (80–81% and 49%, respectively) stem from chronic-stage partners and the remainder (14–16% and 27–35%, respectively) from AIDS-stage partners. Similar proportions of infections stem from partners whose infection is undiagnosed (24–31%), diagnosed but untreated (36–46%), and currently being treated (30–36%). Roughly one-third of infections (32–39%) occur within main partnerships. Results by country were qualitatively similar, despite key behavioral differences; one exception was that transmission from the receptive to insertive partner appears more important in Peru (34%) than the US (21%). The broad balance in transmission contexts suggests that education about risk, careful assessment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, more frequent testing, earlier treatment, and risk-reduction, disclosure, and adherence counseling may all contribute substantially to reducing the HIV incidence among MSM in the US and Peru.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050522
PMCID: PMC3510067  PMID: 23209768
22.  A Sequential Phase 2b Trial Design for Evaluating Vaccine Efficacy and Immune Correlates for Multiple HIV Vaccine Regimens 
Five preventative HIV vaccine efficacy trials have been conducted over the last 12 years, all of which evaluated vaccine efficacy (VE) to prevent HIV infection for a single vaccine regimen versus placebo. Now that one of these trials has supported partial VE of a prime-boost vaccine regimen, there is interest in conducting efficacy trials that simultaneously evaluate multiple prime-boost vaccine regimens against a shared placebo group in the same geographic region, for accelerating the pace of vaccine development. This article proposes such a design, which has main objectives (1) to evaluate VE of each regimen versus placebo against HIV exposures occurring near the time of the immunizations; (2) to evaluate durability of VE for each vaccine regimen showing reliable evidence for positive VE; (3) to expeditiously evaluate the immune correlates of protection if any vaccine regimen shows reliable evidence for positive VE; and (4) to compare VE among the vaccine regimens. The design uses sequential monitoring for the events of vaccine harm, non-efficacy, and high efficacy, selected to weed out poor vaccines as rapidly as possible while guarding against prematurely weeding out a vaccine that does not confer efficacy until most of the immunizations are received. The evaluation of the design shows that testing multiple vaccine regimens is important for providing a well-powered assessment of the correlation of vaccine-induced immune responses with HIV infection, and is critically important for providing a reasonably powered assessment of the value of identified correlates as surrogate endpoints for HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3502884  PMID: 23181167
HIV vaccine efficacy clinical trial; immune correlate of protection; one-way crossover design; surrogate endpoint for HIV infection; two-phase sampling
23.  Seroadaptive Practices: Association with HIV Acquisition among HIV-Negative Men Who Have Sex with Men 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e45718.
Background
Although efficacy is unknown, many men who have sex with men (MSM) attempt to reduce HIV risk by adapting condom use, partner selection, or sexual position to the partner’s HIV serostatus. We assessed the association of seroadaptive practices with HIV acquisition.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We pooled data on North American MSM from four longitudinal HIV-prevention studies. Sexual behaviors reported during each six-month interval were assigned sequentially to one of six mutually exclusive risk categories: (1) no unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), (2) having a single negative partner, (3) being an exclusive top (only insertive anal sex), (4) serosorting (multiple partners, all HIV negative), (5) seropositioning (only insertive anal sex with potentially discordant partners), and (6) UAI with no seroadaptive practices. HIV antibody testing was conducted at the end of each interval. We used Cox models to evaluate the independent association of each category with HIV acquisition, controlling for number of partners, age, race, drug use, and intervention assignment. 12,277 participants contributed to 60,162 six-month intervals with 663 HIV seroconversions. No UAI was reported in 47.4% of intervals, UAI with some seroadaptive practices in 31.8%, and UAI with no seroadaptive practices in 20.4%. All seroadaptive practices were associated with a lower risk, compared to UAI with no seroadaptive practices. However, compared to no UAI, serosorting carried twice the risk (HR = 2.03, 95%CI:1.51–2.73), whereas seropositioning was similar in risk (HR = 0.85, 95%CI:0.50–1.44), and UAI with a single negative partner and as an exclusive top were both associated with a lower risk (HR = 0.56, 95%CI:0.32–0.96 and HR = 0.55, 95%CI:0.36–0.84, respectively).
Conclusions/Significance
Seroadaptive practices appear protective when compared with UAI with no seroadaptive practices, but serosorting appears to be twice as risky as no UAI. Condom use and limiting number of partners should be advocated as first-line prevention strategies, but seroadaptive practices may be considered harm-reduction for men at greatest risk.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045718
PMCID: PMC3463589  PMID: 23056215
24.  Absence of reproducibly detectable low-level HIV viremia in highly exposed seronegative men and women. 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(5):619-623.
Objective
Transient HIV infections have been invoked to account for the cellular immune responses detected in highly virus-exposed individuals who have remained HIV seronegative. We tested for very low levels of HIV RNA in 524 seronegative plasma samples from 311 highly exposed women and men from 3 longitudinal HIV cohorts.
Design
2073 transcription mediated amplification (TMA) HIV RNA tests were performed for an average of 3.95 TMA assays per plasma sample. Quadruplicate TMA assays, analyzing a total of 2 ml of plasma, provided an estimated sensitivity of 3.5 HIV RNA copies/ml.
Results
Four samples from subjects who did not sero-convert within the following six months were positive for HIV RNA. For one sample, human polymorphism DNA analysis indicated a sample mix up. Borderline HIV RNA detection signals were detected for the other three positive samples and further replicate TMA testing yielded no positive results. Nested PCR assays (n=254) for HIV proviral DNA on PBMC from these 3 subjects were negative.
Conclusions
Transient viremia was not reproducibly detected in highly HIV exposed seronegative men and women. If transient infections do occur, plasma HIV RNA levels may remain below the detection limits of the sensitive assay used here, be of very short duration, or viral replication may be restricted to mucosal surfaces or their draining lymphoid tissues.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283440269
PMCID: PMC3458706  PMID: 21297421
25.  Impact of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 on HIV-1 acquisition and progression in an HIV vaccine trial (the Step Study) 
Introduction
Extensive observational data suggest that HSV-2 infection may facilitate HIV acquisition, increase HIV viral load, and accelerate HIV progression and onward transmission. To explore these relationships, we examined the impact of pre-existing HSV-2 infection in an international HIV vaccine trial.
Methods
We analyzed the associations between prevalent HSV-2 infection and HIV-1 acquisition and progression among 1836 men who have sex with men (MSM). We used Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate the association between HSV-2 infection and both HIV acquisition and ART initiation, and linear regression to explore the effect of HSV-2 on pre-ART viral load.
Results
HSV-2 infection increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition among all volunteers (adjusted hazard ratio 2.2; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.5). Adjusting for demographic variables, circumcision, Ad5 titer and significant risk behaviors, the risk of HIV acquisition among HSV-2 infected placebo recipients was three fold higher than HSV-2 seronegatives (hazard ratio 3.3; 95% CI, 1.6 to 6.9). Past HSV-2 infection was associated with a 0.2 log10 copies/ml higher adjusted mean set point viral load (95% CI, 0.3 lower to 0.6 higher). HSV-2 infection was not associated with time to ART initiation.
Conclusions
Among MSM in an HIV-1 vaccine trial, pre-existing HSV-2 infection was a major risk factor for HIV acquisition. Past HSV-2 did not significantly increase HIV viral load or early disease progression. HSV-2 seropositive persons will likely prove more difficult than HSV-2 seronegative persons to protect against HIV infection using vaccines or other prevention strategies.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31821acb5
PMCID: PMC3446850  PMID: 21860356
Herpes Simplex Virus Type II; HIV incidence

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