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1.  Determinants of antiretroviral adherence among HIV positive children and teenagers in rural Tanzania: a mixed methods study 
Background
Around 3.3 million children worldwide are infected with HIV and 90% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. Our study aimed to estimate adherence levels and find the determinants, facilitators and barriers of ART adherence among children and teenagers in rural Tanzania.
Methods
We applied a sequential explanatory mixed method design targeting children and teenagers aged 2–19 years residing in Ifakara. We conducted a quantitative cross sectional study followed by a qualitative study combining focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews (IDIs). We used pill count to measure adherence and defined optimal adherence as > =80% of pills being taken. We analysed determinants of poor adherence using logistic regression. We held eight FGDs with adolescent boys and girls on ART and with caretakers. We further explored issues emerging in the FGDs in four in-depth interviews with patients and health workers. Qualitative data was analysed using thematic content analysis.
Results
Out of 116 participants available for quantitative analysis, 70% had optimal adherence levels and the average adherence level was 84%. Living with a non-parent caretaker predicted poor adherence status. From the qualitative component, unfavorable school environment, timing of the morning ART dose, treatment longevity, being unaware of HIV status, non-parental (biological) care, preference for traditional medicine (herbs) and forgetfulness were seen to be barriers for optimal adherence.
Conclusion
The study has highlighted specific challenges in ART adherence faced by children and teenagers. Having a biological parent as a caretaker remains a key determinant of adherence among children and teenagers. To achieve optimal adherence, strategies targeting the caretakers, the school environment, and the health system need to be designed.
doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0753-y
PMCID: PMC4314748  PMID: 25637106
ART adherence; Children; Teenagers; Pill count; Non-parental caretaker; Focus group discussions; In-depth interviews
2.  Viral Hepatitis and Rapid Diagnostic Test Based Screening for HBsAg in HIV-infected Patients in Rural Tanzania 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58468.
Background
Co-infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is highly prevalent in people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. Screening for HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) before initiation of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is recommended. However, it is not part of diagnostic routines in HIV programs in many resource-limited countries although patients could benefit from optimized antiretroviral therapy covering both infections. Screening could be facilitated by rapid diagnostic tests for HBsAg. Operating experience with these point of care devices in HIV-positive patients in Sub-Saharan Africa is largely lacking. We determined the prevalence of HBV and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection as well as the diagnostic accuracy of the rapid test device Determine HBsAg in an HIV cohort in rural Tanzania.
Methods
Prospectively collected blood samples from adult, HIV-1 positive and antiretroviral treatment-naïve patients in the Kilombero and Ulanga antiretroviral cohort (KIULARCO) in rural Tanzania were analyzed at the point of care with Determine HBsAg, a reference HBsAg EIA and an anti-HCV EIA.
Results
Samples of 272 patients were included. Median age was 38 years (interquartile range [IQR] 32–47), 169/272 (63%) subjects were females and median CD4+ count was 250 cells/µL (IQR 97–439). HBsAg was detected in 25/272 (9.2%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.2–13.0%) subjects. Of these, 7/25 (28%) were positive for HBeAg. Sensitivity of Determine HBsAg was rated at 96% (95% CI 82.8–99.6%) and specificity at 100% (95% CI, 98.9–100%). Antibodies to HCV (anti-HCV) were found in 10/272 (3.7%, 95% CI 2.0–6.4%) of patients.
Conclusion
This study reports a high prevalence of HBV in HIV-positive patients in a rural Tanzanian setting. The rapid diagnostic test Determine HBsAg is an accurate assay for screening for HBsAg in HIV-1 infected patients at the point of care and may further help to guide cART in Sub-Saharan Africa.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058468
PMCID: PMC3585939  PMID: 23469281
3.  Peripheral Blood Monocyte Sirt1 Expression Is Reduced in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53106.
Background
Inflammation plays a key role in atherosclerosis. Sirt1 regulates transcription factors involved in inflammatory processes and blunts atherosclerosis in mice. However, its role in humans remains to be defined. This study was therefore designed to investigate the role of Sirt1 in the development of atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
48 male subjects admitted for cardiac catheterization were subdivided into healthy subjects, patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD), and with acute coronary syndromes (ACS). Monocytes were isolated and Sirt1 mRNA levels were determined. Sirt1 gene expression was higher in healthy subjects as compared to patients with CAD or ACS (P<0.05), respectively. Interestingly, HDL levels correlated positively with Sirt1 expression. Thus, HDL from the three groups was isolated and incubated with THP-1 monocytes to determine the effects of HDL on Sirt1 protein in controlled experimental conditions. HDL from healthy subjects stimulated Sirt1 expression in THP-1 monocytes to a higher degree than HDL from CAD and ACS patients (P<0.05). Paraoxonase-1 (PON-1), a HDL-associated enzyme, showed a reduced activity in HDL isolated from CAD and ACS patients as compared to the controls (P<0.001).
Conclusions
Monocytic Sirt1 expression is reduced in patients with stable CAD and ACS. Experiments on THP-1 monocytes suggest that this effect is HDL-dependent and is mediated by a reduced activity of HDL-associated enzyme PON1.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053106
PMCID: PMC3558418  PMID: 23382833
4.  Antibody Phage Display Assisted Identification of Junction Plakoglobin as a Potential Biomarker for Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47985.
To date, no plaque-derived blood biomarker is available to allow diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases. In this study, specimens of thrombendarterectomy material from carotid and iliac arteries were incubated in protein-free medium to obtain plaque and control secretomes for subsequent subtractive phage display. The selection of nine plaque secretome-specific antibodies and the analysis of their immunopurified antigens by mass spectrometry led to the identification of 22 proteins. One of them, junction plakoglobin (JUP-81) and its smaller isoforms (referred to as JUP-63, JUP-55 and JUP-30 by molecular weight) were confirmed by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting with independent antibodies to be present in atherosclerotic plaques and their secretomes, coronary thrombi of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and macrophages differentiated from peripheral blood monocytes as well as macrophage-like cells differentiated from THP1 cells. Plasma of patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) (n = 15) and ACS (n = 11) contained JUP-81 at more than 2- and 14-fold higher median concentrations, respectively, than plasma of CAD-free individuals (n = 13). In conclusion, this proof of principle study identified and verified JUP isoforms as potential plasma biomarkers for atherosclerosis. Clinical validation studies are needed to determine its diagnostic efficacy and clinical utility as a biomarker for diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047985
PMCID: PMC3480477  PMID: 23110151

Results 1-4 (4)