Russia has a substantial HIV epidemic which is poised to escalate in the coming years. The increases in prevalence of HIV will result in increased healthcare needs by a medical system with limited experience with HIV. A healthcare provider's attitude towards a patient plays a significant role in determining the patient's health-related behaviours and medical outcomes. Previous studies have identified negative attitudes of medical students towards people living with HIV. Studying the prevalence of such attitudes is of particular interest, as medical students represent the future workforce and also as the schooling years present a unique opportunity to nurture bias-free healthcare providers. The study measures prevalence of prejudicial attitudes towards HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients who belong to marginalized subgroups.
The cross-sectional survey was conducted among medical students of a Russian medical university. Of 500 students surveyed, 436 provided sufficient data to be included in the analysis. Prejudicial attitudes were defined as reluctance to provide medical care to a specified hypothetical patient. Nine hypothetical HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients were proposed: physicians, injecting drug users, commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men and a patient HIV-positive due to blood transfusion. A log-binomial regression solved using generalized estimating equations was utilized to identify factors associated with reluctance to treat.
Prevalence of reluctance to provide medical care to HIV-positive patients in marginalized subgroups was high (ranging from 26.4% up to 71.9%), compared to a maximum of 7.5% if a patient was an HIV-negative physician. Students in their clinical years reported more negative attitudes than preclinical students. In general, female students were less willing to provide care than their male counterparts.
Prejudicial attitudes about HIV-positive patients and those in marginalized subgroups of the population are prevalent among medical students in Russia. Given the increasing prevalence of HIV in the country, reasons for this hesitance to treat must be identified and addressed. Educational programs for healthcare providers are urgently needed to eliminate bias in the delivery of critically needed medical care. These targeted interventions should be coupled with other programs to eliminate structural barriers to care.
HIV; stigma; medical students; marginalized groups; Russia
Background: Collection of biological material via mailed health surveys is an emerging trend. This study was conducted to assess non-response bias in a study of sexually transmitted infection utilizing self-collected, home-obtained specimens. Methods: Data from a nationwide administrative database on health care utilization together with data from a research study were used. The research study was an outreach screening programme including home-obtained, participant-collected, mail-delivered testing for Chlamydia trachomatis. A random sample of 1690 persons aged 18–35 years from the population registry was selected. Study materials (specimen collection kit, informed consent, questionnaire) were mailed in three waves. Results: The first mailing yielded a response rate of 18.5% (n = 259), the second 10.1% (n = 141) and the third 11.4% (n = 160). Women were more likely to respond than men, and responders were less likely to have had medical care in the past year and more likely to have had a prior sexually transmitted infection than non-responders. Chlamydia trachomatis infection rates tended to be higher in early responders. Late responders appeared more like non-responders in terms of demographic factors, health care utilization patterns and potential disease status. Conclusion: Non-response in a health survey including biological material self-collection warrants research as it may differ from non-response in general health questionnaires.
Chlamydia; epidemiologic study; participant collected specimen; participation
With abnormal cervical cytology found in approximately 20% of Georgian women presenting with gynecologic complaints, widespread education is needed about Pap testing when symptoms are present.
Cervical cytology; High risk; Pap test
viruses; zoonoses; rabies; bats; human; public health; postexposure prophylaxis
The aim of this study was to describe the extent of the HIV epidemic among women in the Republic of Georgia and to identify factors associated with HCV co-infection in this population.
All women aged ≥18 years who were diagnosed with HIV between 1989 and 2006 were identified through the National HIV/AIDS surveillance database. Medical records were reviewed for demographic characteristics, risk factors and HCV serostatus. A total of 249 women were identified. Only 4% declared injection drug use (IDU); sex work was reported by 9%. Substantial risk factors were identified among the women's sexual partners, nearly 69% of whom were IDUs, 84% were HIV positive and 66% HCV positive. Seventeen percent of women were seropositive for HCV. Factors significantly associated with HCV seropositivity in bivariate analyses among non-IDU women were partner IDU+ [Prevalence ratio (PR): 4.5 (95% CI: 1.4, 14.2)], and partner HCV+ [PR: 7.2 (95% CI: 1.8, 29.5)].
The HIV epidemic in the Republic of Georgia is closely tied to the IDU community. Evidence-based interventions targeting IDU and partners of IDU are urgently required to halt the spread of the HIV epidemic in the country.
Historically, HIV, TB (tuberculosis) and illegal drug treatment services in Estonia have been developed as vertical structures. Related health care services are often provided by different health care institutions and in different locations. This may present obstacles for vulnerable groups, such as injecting drug users (IDU), to access the needed services. We conducted a small scale randomized controlled trial to evaluate a case management intervention aimed at increasing TB screening and treatment entry among IDUs referred from a methadone drug treatment program in Jõhvi, North-Eastern Estonia.
Of the 189 potential subjects, 112 (59%) participated. HIV prevalence was 86% (n = 96) and 7.4% (n = 8) of participants were interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) positive (6.5% were both HIV and IGRA-positive, n = 7). Overall, 44% of participants (n = 49) attended TB clinic, 17 (30%) from control group and 32 (57%) from case management group (p = 0.004). None of the participants were diagnosed with TB. In a multivariate model, those randomized to case management group were more likely to access TB screening services.
These findings demonstrate the urgent need for scaling up TB screening among IDUs and the value of more active approach in referring substitution treatment patients to TB services.
This article describes the New York State Department of Health's GeoDatabase project, which developed new methods and techniques for designing and building a geocoding and mapping data repository for sexually transmitted disease (STD) control. The GeoDatabase development was supported through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Outcome Assessment through Systems of Integrated Surveillance workgroup. The design and operation of the GeoDatabase relied upon commercial-off-the-shelf tools that other public health programs may also use for disease-control systems. This article provides a blueprint of the structure and software used to build the GeoDatabase and integrate location data from multiple data sources into the everyday activities of STD control programs.
The HIV epidemic in Estonia is rapidly expanding, and injection drug users (IDUs) are the major risk group contributing to the expansion. A convenience sample of 159 IDUs visiting syringe-exchange programmes (SEPs) was selected to quantify the association of HIV-risk behaviours and blood-borne infections. A high prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B core antibody (HBVcore), hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg) and hepatitis C virus antibodies (56, 85.1, 21.3, and 96.2%, respectively) was associated with high-risk injections, unsafe sexual behaviour and alcohol abuse. These findings emphasize the importance of evidence-based secondary prevention among the HIV-infected, especially given the uncertain sustainability of antiretroviral and substance abuse treatments.
injection drug use; HIV; HBV; HCV; high-risk behaviour; Estonia
The aim of this research was to evaluate a school-based AIDS education programme in Eastern Europe. Four evaluation segments were undertaken: process and outcome evaluations of the training of AIDS educators and of the educational activities for students. While most AIDS education curricula focus on the content of the education, our findings demonstrate that other aspects — including the characteristics of those educators who appear to be most effective, the way in which education is affected by teachers’ attitudes, and the cultural implications of transferring programmes from one country to another – also need to be considered, especially in international environments.
Surveillance of bloodborne infections among injection drug users (IDUs) can be accomplished by determining the presence of pathogen markers in used syringes. Parallel testing of returned syringes and venous blood from IDUs was conducted to detect antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Syringe surveillance for HIV yielded a sensitivity and specificity of 92% and 89%, respectively, and provided a reasonable estimate of the prevalence of HIV among participants. Because sensitivity for HBV (34%) and HCV (55%) was low, syringe testing may be useful for surveillance of hepatitis over time but not for estimation of prevalence.
Neonatal blood stream infections (BSI) are major cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. It is crucial to continuously monitor the local epidemiology of neonatal BSI to detect any changes in patterns of infection and susceptibility to various antibiotics.
To examine the etiology of BSI in two neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in the Republic of Georgia, a resource-poor country, and to determine antibiotic susceptibility of the isolated organisms.
Cross-sectional study among all septic infants was conducted in NICU of two pediatric hospitals in Tbilisi between 09/2003-09/2004.
A total of 200 infants with clinical signs of sepsis were admitted in two NICUs. Of these, 126 (63%) had confirmed bacteremia. Mortality rate was 34%. A total of 98 (78%) of 126 recovered isolates were Gram-negative organisms, and 28 (22%) were Gram-positive. Klebsiella pneumoniae was the most common pathogen, accounting for 36 (29%) of 126 isolates, followed by Enterobacter cloacae – 19 (15%), and S. aureus – 15 (12%). The gram-negative organisms showed high degree of resistance to commonly used antibiotics such as ampicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, and comparatively low resistance to amikacin, ciprofloxacin, carbapenems, and gentamicin; 40% of S. aureus isolates were methicillin resistant (MRSA). In multivariate analysis only umbilical discharge was a significant risk factor for having positive blood culture at admission to NICU (PR=2.25, 95% CI 1.82-2.77).
Neonatal BSI was mainly caused by gram-negative organisms, which are developing resistance to commonly used antibiotics. Understanding the local epidemiology of neonatal BSI can lead to the development of better medical practices, especially more appropriate choices for empiric antibiotic therapy, and may contribute to improvement of infection control practices.
blood stream infections; Republic of Georgia; neonatal
mortality; Republic of Georgia; neonatal
To assess physical and mental functional health status as associated with the severity of intimate partner violence (IPV) and perceived danger.
Prospective cross-sectional survey of all patients aged 18–55 in an urban emergency department during a convenience sample of shifts. Instruments included the George Washington Universal Violence Prevention Screening protocol, administered by computer during the initial visit, the Short-Form 12 Health Survey (SF-12), the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2), and the Revised Danger Assessment (DA), administered by interview at 1 week follow-up.
In total, 548 (20%) participants screened disclosed IPV victimization. Of those, 216 (40%) completed the follow-up assessment 1 week later. This cohort was 91% African American, 70% single, and 63% female, with a mean age of 35 (SD 10.41). Both physical and mental health functioning scores were lower than normative levels (50) compared with national averages: Physical Component Summary (PCS) scale 43.64 (SD 10.86) and Mental Component Summary (MCS) scale 37.46 (SD 12.29). As physical assault, psychological aggression, and reported injury increased on the CTS2, mental health functioning diminished (p < 0.01). Increased physical assault and psychological aggression were also associated with diminished physical health functioning (p < 0.05). As victim-perceived danger increased on the DA, both physical and mental health functioning decreased (p < 0.01, p < 0.001, respectively). Greater self-advocacy activities were associated with lower mental (but not physical) health functioning as well. Females experienced worsening mental health functioning as both physical assault and psychological aggression increased, whereas male victims experienced worsening mental health functioning only as psychological aggression increased.
These findings suggest that IPV takes a greater mental than physical toll (for both sexes) and that as IPV severity increases, mental health functioning diminishes and self-advocacy behaviors increase. Additionally, as perceived danger increases, both physical and mental health status worsens. This has important implications for clinicians to assess and consider IPV victims' perceptions of their situations relative to danger, not just the levels of abuse they are experiencing.
Effective prophylactic vaccines are available against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6, 11, 16, and 18 which are licensed for routine use among young women. Monitoring is needed to demonstrate protection against cervical cancer, to verify duration of protection, and assess replacement frequency of non-vaccine types among vaccinated cohorts.
Data from a population-based study were used to assess the type-specific prevalence of HPV in a non-vaccinated population in Estonia: 845 self-administered surveys and self-collected vaginal swabs were distributed, 346 were collected by mail and tested for HPV DNA from female participants 18-35 years of age.
The overall HPV prevalence (weighted estimate to account for the sampling method) in the study population (unvaccinated women aged 18-35) was calculated to be 38% (95% CI 31-45%), with estimated prevalences of high- and low-risk HPV types 21% (95% CI 16-26%), and 10% (95% CI 7-14%), respectively. Of the high-risk HPV types, HPV 16 was detected most frequently (6.4%; 95% CI 4.0-9.8%) followed by HPV 53 (4.3%; 95% CI 2.3-7.2%) and HPV 66 (2.8%; 95% CI 1.3-5.2%).
We observed a high prevalence of total and high-risk type HPV in an Eastern European country. The most common high-risk HPV types detected were HPV 16, 53, and 66.
Much attention has been devoted to ethical issues related to randomized controlled trials for HIV treatment and prevention. However, there has been less discussion of ethical issues surrounding families involved in observational studies of HIV transmission. This paper describes the process of ethical deliberation about how best to obtain informed consent from sex partners of injection drug users (IDUs) tested for HIV, within a recent HIV study in Eastern Europe. The study aimed to assess the amount of HIV serodiscordance among IDUs and their sexual partners, identify barriers to harm reduction, and explore ways to optimize intervention programs. Including IDUs, either HIV-positive or at high risk for HIV, and their sexual partners would help to gain a more complete understanding of barriers to and opportunities for intervention.
This paper focuses on the ethical dilemma regarding informed recruitment: whether researchers should disclose to sexual partners of IDUs that they were recruited because their partner injects drugs (i.e., their heightened risk for HIV). Disclosing risks to partners upholds the ethical value of respect for persons through informed consent. However, disclosure compromises the IDU's confidentiality, and potentially, the scientific validity of the research. Following a brief literature review, we summarize the researchers' systematic evaluation of this issue from ethical, scientific, and logistical perspectives. While the cultural context may be somewhat unique to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the issues raised and solutions proposed here inform epidemiological research designs and their underlying ethical tensions.
We present ethical arguments in favor of disclosure, discuss how cultural context shapes the ethical issues, and recommend refinement of guidance for couples research of communicable diseases to assist investigators encountering these ethical issues in the future.
Contemporary literature lacks a definition of prior antibiotic exposure which captures all patients at risk of developing piperacillin-tazobactam-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PTR-PA). The results indicated that individual antibiotics that are associated with PTR-PA differ depending on the definition of prior antibiotic exposure utilized. When the specific antibiotic used was replaced by the number of prior exposures, the number of exposures was the only variable associated with an increased risk of antibiotic resistance at each time threshold.
Measurements of intimate partner violence (IPV) based on acts of violence have repeatedly found substantial bilateral violence between intimates. However, the context of this violence is not well defined by acts alone. The objective of this research was to compare differences in women and men within each IPV status category (victim, perpetrator, and both) with respect to levels of battering as defined by their scores on the Women’s Experience With Battering Scale (WEB), which asks gender-neutral questions about the abuse of power and control and fear in an intimate relationship. In our study, women disclosed higher levels of battering on the WEB, despite IPV status (victimization or both victimization and perpetration). In addition, female IPV victims were 5 times more likely than their male counterparts to disclose high rates of battering on the WEB. Depressive symptoms, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, African American race, and IPV victimization were independently associated with higher WEB scores.
intimate partner violence; victim; perpetrator; battering; mental health; Women’s Experience With Battering Scale
Recent systematic reviews have noted a lack of evidence that screening for intimate partner violence does more good than harm. We assess whether patients screened for intimate partner violence on a computer kiosk in the emergency department (ED) experienced any adverse events during or subsequent to the ED visit and whether computer kiosk identification and referral of intimate partner violence in the ED setting resulted in safety behaviors or contact with referrals.
We conducted a prospective, observational study in which a convenience sample of male and female ED patients triaged to the waiting room who screened positive (on a computer kiosk-based questionnaire) for intimate partner violence in the past year were provided with resources and information and invited to participate in a series of follow-up interviews. At 1-week and 3-month follow-up visits, we assessed intimate partner violence, safety issues, and use of resources. In addition, to obtain an objective measure of safety, we assessed the number of violence-related 911 calls to participant addresses within a call district 6 months before and 6 months after the index ED visit.
Of the 2,134 participants in a relationship in the last year, 548 (25.7%) screened positive for intimate partner violence. No safety issues, such as calling security or a partner’s interference with the screening, occurred during the ED visit for any patient who disclosed intimate partner violence. Of the 216 intimate partner violence victims interviewed in person and 65 contacted by telephone 1 week later, no intimate partner violence victims reported any injuries or increased intimate partner violence resulting from participating in the study. For the sample in the local police district, there was no increase in the number of intimate partner violence victims who called 911 in the 6 months after the ED visit. Finally, 35% (n=131) reported they had contacted community resources during the 3-month follow-up period.
Among patients screening positive for intimate partner violence, there were no identified adverse events related to screening, and many had contacted community resources.
The current study aims to further our understanding of the applicability of the transtheoretical model (TM) to intimate partner violence (IPV), with particular focus on mental health symptoms (depression, posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology, suicidal ideation) in a sample of low-income African American women seeking medical services at an inner city emergency department. Results revealed that of the 121 abused African American women, the majority (95%) were in the precontempla-tion and contemplation stages of the change process. Further, contrary to predictions, bivariate analyses revealed those at further stages of change endorsed more severe mental health symptoms. However, a multivariate analysis of variance examining differences in level of mental health symptoms between women high and low on stages of change was inconclusive due to the small number of women at the higher stages of the TM model. These findings contribute to the growing body of literature supporting the TM as applied to IPV. Results are discussed in terms of applicability to intervention design.
intimate partner violence; African American women; transtheoretical model
Population estimates are generally drawn from one point in time to study disease trends over time; changes in population characteristics over time are usually not assessed and included in the study design. We evaluated whether population characteristics remained static and assessed the degree of population shifts over time. The analysis was based on the New York State 1990 and 2000 census data with adjustments for changes in geographic boundaries. Differences in census tract information were quantified by calculating the mean, median, standard deviation, and the percent of change for each population characteristic. Between 1990 and 2000, positive and negative fluctuations in population size created a U-shaped bimodal pattern of population change which increased the disparities in demographics and socioeconomic status for many census tracts. While 268 (10%) census tracts contracted by 10%, twice as many census tracts (21%, N = 557) grew at least 10%. Notably, the non-Hispanic African-American population grew 10% or more in 152 tracts. Although there were overall reductions in working class and undereducated populations and gains in incomes, most census tracts experienced growing income inequalities and an increased poverty rate. These changes were most pronounced in urban census tracts. Differences in population characteristics in a decade showed growing disparities in demographics and socioeconomic status. This study elucidates that important population shifts should be taken into account when conducting longitudinal research.
Obesity, a major public health problem, is the key modifiable component of diabetes risk. Addressing obesity and diabetes risk during primary care visits is recommended but, because of time constraints, is often difficult for health care providers to do. The purpose of this study was to determine whether technology can streamline risk assessment and leave more time to educate patients. We also tested the validity of self-reported weight in assessing diabetes risk.
We recruited English-speaking women aged 18 to 44 years who came to a clinic for medical appointments from July through October 2003. Study participants completed a self-administered computer questionnaire that collected the following data: weight, height, family history of diabetes, level of exercise, amount of television time, and daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Self-reported and scale-measured weights were compared to determine the effect of self-reported weight on results of the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Risk Test (DRT). In determining the sensitivity and specificity of self-reported weight, we used scale measurements as the standard.
Complete data were collected on 231 women, including 214 women without a history of a diabetes diagnosis. Compared with DRT results (determined by scale-measured weight), questionnaire results (determined by self-reported weight) had sensitivities of 93.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 85.2%–97.6%) for high risk for diabetes and 90.4% (95% CI, 83.3%–94.7%) for moderate risk. The specificity of the self-administered DRT for any diabetes risk was 97.8% (95% CI, 88.4%–99.6%). About half the women reported discussing nutrition and exercise with their health care providers.
Health care professionals can provide personalized diabetes education and counseling on the basis of information collected by self-administered computerized questionnaires. In general, patients provided a self-reported weight that did not substantially bias estimates of diabetes risk.
Despite the increasing prevalence of multiple-drug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the factors predictive of MDR have not been extensively explored. We sought to examine factors predictive of MDR among patients with P. aeruginosa respiratory tract infections and to develop a tool to estimate the probability of MDR among such high-risk patients. This was a single-site, case-control study of patients with P. aeruginosa respiratory tract infections. Multiple-drug resistance was defined as resistance to four or more antipseudomonal antimicrobial classes. Clinical data on demographics, antibiotic history, and microbiology were collected. Classification and regression tree analysis (CART) was used to identify the duration of antibiotic exposure associated with MDR P. aeruginosa. Log-binomial regression was used to model the probability of MDR P. aeruginosa. Among 351 P. aeruginosa-infected patients, the proportion of MDR P. aeruginosa was 35%. A significant relationship between prior antibiotic exposure and MDR P. aeruginosa was found for all of the antipseudomonal antibiotics studied, but the duration of prior exposure associated with MDR varied between antibiotic classes; the shortest prior exposure duration was observed for carbapenems and fluoroquinolones, and the longest duration was noted for cefepime and piperacillin-tazobactam. Within the final model, the predicted MDR P. aeruginosa likelihood was most dependent upon length of hospital stay, prior culture sample collection, and number of CART-derived prior antibiotic exposures. A history of a prolonged hospital stay and exposure to antipseudomonal antibiotics predicts multidrug resistance among patients with P. aeruginosa respiratory tract infections at our institution. Identifying these risk factors enabled us to develop a prediction tool to assess the risk of resistance and thus guide empirical antibiotic therapy.
Most cases of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and subsequent liver diseases can be prevented with universal newborn HBV vaccination. The attitudes of health care workers about HBV vaccination and their willingness to recommend vaccine have been shown to impact HBV vaccination coverage and the prevention of vertical transmission of HBV. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the factors associated with health care worker recommendations regarding newborn HBV vaccination.
A cross-sectional study of prevalence and awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis B vaccine was conducted among randomly selected physicians and nurses employed in seven hospitals in Georgia in 2006 and 2007. Self-administered questionnaires included a module on recommendations for HBV, HCV and HIV.
Of the 1328 participants included in this analysis, 36% reported recommending against hepatitis B vaccination for children, including 33% of paediatricians. Among the 70.6% who provided a reason for not recommending HBV vaccine, the most common concern was an adverse vaccine event. Unvaccinated physicians and nurses were more likely to recommend against HBV vaccine (40.4% vs 11.4%, PR 3.54; 95% CI: 2.38, 5.29). Additionally, health care worker age was inversely correlated with recommendations for HBV vaccine with older workers less likely to recommend it.
Vaccinating health care workers against HBV may provide a dual benefit by boosting occupational safety as well as strengthening universal coverage programs for newborns.
Hepatitis B; Vaccine; Safety; Health Care Worker; Newborns