To document Georgian physician’s knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning HPV, Pap smear testing, and HPV vaccination, and to assess whether physician practice might change with additional education and training.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using a self-administered written survey of 288 physicians practicing in 7 healthcare institutions in Tbilisi, Rustavi, and Batumi, Georgia. Data were collected on demographics, conduct of and perceived barriers to Pap smear testing, knowledge about HPV and HPV vaccination, and willingness to receive education and training about HPV and cervical cancer. Univariate counts and proportions were calculated. Pap smear testing and barriers were compared across demographics using bivariate and Poisson regression with robust error variance methods.
Overall, 54% of physicians never performed Pap smears; most reported testing was not their responsibility. Most (88%) obstetricians/gynecologists performed Pap smears. Younger physicians were more likely to perform Pap smears. Approximately 48% of physicians actively offered the HPV vaccine. Most physicians were receptive to increased education and training about HPV and cervical cancer.
Age-related differences in the conduct of and attitudes toward Pap smear testing exist among Georgian physicians. There is an opportunity to increase Pap smear testing and provide evidence-based HPV vaccine counseling in Georgia.
Cervical cytology; Human papillomavirus; Vaccine
There is little information on adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the Eastern European region. This prospective study evaluated multiple measures of adherence and their association with viral suppression among HIV patients in Georgia.
A prospective cohort study enrolled 100 consecutive antiretroviral-naïve adult (age ≥18 years) patients, who were followed for three months. Adherence was assessed by medication refill and three self-report measures (an AIDS Clinical Trial Group [ACTG] tool for four-day adherence, a visual analogue scale [VAS] and a rating task for 30-day adherence). The VAS represented a line anchored by 0 and 100% corresponding to the percentage of prescribed doses taken. The rating task asked patients to rate their ability to take all medications as prescribed, with responses categorized into six levels of adherence: very poor (0%), poor (20%), fair (40%), good (60%), very good (80%) and excellent (100%). Patients with adherence of ≥95% by medication refill, ACTG and VAS, and ≥80% by rating task, were defined as adherent.
Of 100 patients enrolled, eight had missing data and were excluded from analysis. Among the remaining 92 patients, the median age was 39 years, and 70% were men. Major modes of HIV acquisition were injection drug use (IDU; 47.3%) and heterosexual contact (44.1%). The proportions of adherent patients were as follows: 68% by medication refill, 90% by ACTG questionnaire, 38% by VAS and 42% by rating task. On average, four months after commencing ART, 52 (56.5%) patients had a viral load <400 copies/ml and 26 (28.3%) patients had a viral load <50 copies/ml. Of 43 persons with a history of IDU, 22 (51.2%) reached a viral load of <400 copies/ml. In multivariate analysis, only refill adherence was a statistically significant predictor of viral suppression of <400 copies/ml: the risk ratio was 1.7 (95% CI: 1.1–2.8). Refill adherence, VAS and rating task were associated with viral suppression of <50 copies/ml. Non-IDUs were twice as likely to achieve viral load <50 copies/ml compared to IDUs. Refill adherence had the largest area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve for predicting viral suppression.
Medication refill adherence was the strongest predictor of viral suppression. IDUs can achieve optimal virologic outcomes, but may require additional adherence support.
antiretroviral therapy; adherence; Eastern Europe; injection drug use; viral suppression
To quantify potential bridging of HIV transmission between the injection drug using subpopulation to the non-injection drug using population through unprotected heterosexual sex.
Secondary analysis of cross-sectional data.
A sub-sample of participants who reported having a permanent partner who are not injection drug users and have not injected drugs in the past (N=1379) was selected from a survey implemented in 26 Ukrainian cities in 2011. This study evaluates the association between consistent condom use and awareness of HIV status as measured by rapid testing during the study (known/unknown HIV+, known/unknown HIV− and undetermined) among a sub-sample of male injection drug users (IDUs) who have a non-injecting permanent partner. Poisson regression, with robust variance estimates, was utilized to identify associations while adjusting for other factors.
Reported consistent condom use varied between 15.5% (unknown HIV−) and 37.5% (known HIV+); average use was 19.3%. In multivariate analysis, males who were aware of their HIV+ status were more likely to report recent consistent condom use compared to those who were unaware of their HIV+ status. This association remains after adjustment for age, region, education level, years of injection, alcohol use, self-reported primary drug use and being an NGO client (prevalence ratio=1.65; 95% CI 1.03–2.64). No such association was found for those who were HIV−.
Our results regarding HIV-positive male IDUs reinforce previous findings that HIV testing and counselling may be an effective means of secondary prevention. Further research is needed to understand how to effectively promote safer sex behaviours for IDUs who are currently HIV−.
HIV testing; Ukraine; IDU; HIV epidemic generalization; sexual behaviour
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) collected information about hospitalized patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) during October 2009–May 2010, statewide (excluding New York City), to examine a possible relationship with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccination. NYSDOH established a Clinical Network of neurologists and 150 hospital neurology units. Hospital discharge data from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) were used to evaluate completeness of reporting from the Clinical Network. A total of 140 confirmed or probable GBS cases were identified: 81 (58%) from both systems, 10 (7%) from Clinical Network only, and 49 (35%) from SPARCS-only. Capture–recapture methods estimated that 6 cases might have been missed by both systems. Clinical Network median reporting time was 12 days versus 131 days for SPARCS. In public health emergencies in New York State, a Clinical Network may provide timely data, but in our study such data were less complete than traditional hospital discharge data.
Guillain-Barré syndrome; GBS; pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza virus; influenza A(H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine; vaccination campaign; viruses; New York
Little research on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and social perceptions toward this behavior has been disseminated from Eastern Europe. This study explores the prevalence and risk factors of IPV and the justification of this behavior among women in the Republic of Georgia. It seeks to better understand how IPV and IPV justification relate and how social justification of IPV differs across socio-economic measures among this population of women.
This study utilizes a national sample of ever-married women from the Republic of Georgia (N = 4,302). We describe the factors that predict IPV justification among these women and the relationship between of the acceptability of IPV and victimization overall and across socio-demographic factors.
While the overall lifetime prevalence of IPV in this sample was relatively low (4%), these women were two to four times more likely to justify IPV, Just under one-quarter of the sample agreed that IPV was justified in at least one scenario, namely when the wife was unfaithful, compared with women who had no experience being abused by a partner. Georgian women who were poor, from a rural community, had lower education, were not working and who experienced child abuse or IPV among their parents were more likely to justify this behavior.
These findings begin to fill a gap in our understanding of IPV experienced by women in Eastern Europe. In addition, these findings emphasize the need for researchers, practitioners and policy makers to contextualize IPV in terms of the justification of this behavior among the population being considered as this can play an important role in perpetration, victimization and response.
Partner violence; Social norms; Women; Gender; Republic of Georgia
The goal of this study was to examine specific factors placing young (aged <30) women who inject drugs at higher risk for HIV, and to establish the need for targeted interventions within this population.
A national cross-sectional sero-survey was conducted in 2004–2005 in six regions in Poland. A snowball sample of ever-injectors was recruited from drug treatment facilities and the surrounding community. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs).
A total of 491 injection drug users younger than 30 were recruited, of whom 159 were women and 332 were men. The prevalence of HIV was 16.4% and 9.6% among women and men, respectively. In multivariate analysis, young female injectors whose education terminated at the primary level were more likely to be HIV-positive compared to males with a similar level of education (PR = 3.34, 95% CI = 1.86–6.00) and more highly educated women (PR = 4.16, 95% CI = 2.21–7.82).
This study confirms an elevated risk of HIV among under-educated young women. Suggestions for specific interventions to reduce HIV transmission are presented. Additional research is needed to quantify the differential distribution of risk behaviors which amplify their likelihood of transmission.
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
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