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1.  Trends and Disparities in Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation and Virologic Suppression Among Newly Treatment-Eligible HIV-Infected Individuals in North America, 2001–2009 
Hanna, David B. | Buchacz, Kate | Gebo, Kelly A. | Hessol, Nancy A. | Horberg, Michael A. | Jacobson, Lisa P. | Kirk, Gregory D. | Kitahata, Mari M. | Korthuis, P. Todd | Moore, Richard D. | Napravnik, Sonia | Patel, Pragna | Silverberg, Michael J. | Sterling, Timothy R. | Willig, James H. | Lau, Bryan | Althoff, Keri N. | Crane, Heidi M. | Collier, Ann C. | Samji, Hasina | Thorne, Jennifer E. | Gill, M. John | Klein, Marina B. | Martin, Jeffrey N. | Rodriguez, Benigno | Rourke, Sean B. | Gange, Stephen J. | Benson, A. | Bosch, Ronald J. | Collier, Ann C. | Boswell, Stephen | Grasso, Chris | Mayer, Ken | Hogg, Robert S. | Harrigan, Richard | Montaner, Julio | Cescon, Angela | Brooks, John T. | Buchacz, Kate | Gebo, Kelly A. | Moore, Richard D. | Rodriguez, Benigno | Horberg, Michael A. | Silverberg, Michael J. | Thorne, Jennifer E. | Goedert, James J. | Jacobson, Lisa P. | Klein, Marina B. | Rourke, Sean B. | Burchell, Ann | Rachlis, Anita R. | Hunter-Mellado, Robert F. | Mayor, Angel M. | Gill, M. John | Deeks, Steven G. | Martin, Jeffrey N. | Saag, Michael S. | Mugavero, Michael J. | Willig, James | Eron, Joseph J. | Napravnik, Sonia | Kitahata, Mari M. | Crane, Heidi M. | Justice, Amy C. | Dubrow, Robert | Fiellin, David | Sterling, Timothy R. | Haas, David | Bebawy, Sally | Turner, Megan | Gange, Stephen J. | Anastos, Kathryn | Moore, Richard D. | Saag, Michael S. | Gange, Stephen J. | Kitahata, Mari M. | McKaig, Rosemary G. | Justice, Amy C. | Freeman, Aimee M. | Moore, Richard D. | Freeman, Aimee M. | Lent, Carol | Platt, Aaron | Kitahata, Mari M. | Van Rompaey, Stephen E. | Crane, Heidi M. | Webster, Eric | Morton, Liz | Simon, Brenda | Gange, Stephen J. | Abraham, Alison G. | Lau, Bryan | Althoff, Keri N. | Zhang, Jinbing | Jing, Jerry | Golub, Elizabeth | Modur, Shari | Hanna, David B. | Rebeiro, Peter | Wong, Cherise | Mendes, Adell
In the last decade, timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy and resulting virologic suppression have greatly improved in North America concurrent with the development of better tolerated and more potent regimens, but significant barriers to treatment uptake remain.
Background. Since the mid-1990s, effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens have improved in potency, tolerability, ease of use, and class diversity. We sought to examine trends in treatment initiation and resulting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virologic suppression in North America between 2001 and 2009, and demographic and geographic disparities in these outcomes.
Methods. We analyzed data on HIV-infected individuals newly clinically eligible for ART (ie, first reported CD4+ count <350 cells/µL or AIDS-defining illness, based on treatment guidelines during the study period) from 17 North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design cohorts. Outcomes included timely ART initiation (within 6 months of eligibility) and virologic suppression (≤500 copies/mL, within 1 year). We examined time trends and considered differences by geographic location, age, sex, transmission risk, race/ethnicity, CD4+ count, and viral load, and documented psychosocial barriers to ART initiation, including non–injection drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and mental illness.
Results. Among 10 692 HIV-infected individuals, the cumulative incidence of 6-month ART initiation increased from 51% in 2001 to 72% in 2009 (Ptrend < .001). The cumulative incidence of 1-year virologic suppression increased from 55% to 81%, and among ART initiators, from 84% to 93% (both Ptrend < .001). A greater number of psychosocial barriers were associated with decreased ART initiation, but not virologic suppression once ART was initiated. We found significant heterogeneity by state or province of residence (P < .001).
Conclusions. In the last decade, timely ART initiation and virologic suppression have greatly improved in North America concurrent with the development of better-tolerated and more potent regimens, but significant barriers to treatment uptake remain, both at the individual level and systemwide.
PMCID: PMC3657490  PMID: 23315317
antiretroviral therapy; healthcare disparities; HIV; time factors; viral load
2.  Treatment, care and support for people co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C: a scoping review 
Open Medicine  2009;3(4):e184-e195.
Providing care for people who are co-infected with both HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) is becoming increasingly complex and requires integrated prevention, screening, support and programming efforts. We undertook a scoping review to provide a summary of the existing evidence base and to identify and assess the quality of treatment guidelines and systematic reviews related to 3 domains of interest: treatment; epidemiology; and care, support, programming and prevention.
We searched 7 databases, hand-searched 8 journals and contacted key informants to identify relevant literature. We included all primary research (including systematic reviews and meta-analyses) or treatment guidelines that assessed pegylated interferon and ribavirin for HCV or highly active antiretroviral therapy for HIV treatment, or both. In the epidemiology domain, we included all primary research (including systematic reviews and meta-analyses). Studies that included only people with hemophilia and those conducted in developing countries were excluded. In the care, support, programming and prevention domain, we included all studies and reports that focused on co-infection. Two reviewers independently applied coding criteria and assessed the quality of the treatment guidelines and systematic reviews using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation and A MeaSurement Tool to Assess Reviews instruments.
Our search strategy yielded 1633 unique references. Of these, 227 references met the final inclusion criteria: 114 addressed treatment, 52 epidemiology and 79 care, support, programming or prevention. The references included 9 treatment guidelines: 4 were assessed as “strongly recommend,” 3 as “recommend (with provisos or alterations)” and 1 as “would not recommend” (1 could not be located). Of 10 systematic reviews that were located, 7 were assessed as being high quality, 2 as medium quality and 1 as low quality.
This quality-assessed inventory of treatment guidelines and systematic reviews can be used by physicians and service providers to rapidly locate research about HIV–HCV co-infection. However, many treatment guidelines and reviews often indicate that treatment of current injection drug users and/or people with mental health issues should proceed on a “case-by-case basis.” Therefore, much of the evidence (particularly in the treatment literature) is limited in its scope and applicability to important populations that are vulnerable to HIV or HCV infection or co-infection.
PMCID: PMC3090111  PMID: 21688755
3.  Community-academic partnerships in HIV-related research: a systematic literature review of theory and practice 
Community involvement in HIV research has increased over recent years, enhancing community-academic partnerships. Several terms have been used to describe community participation in research. Clarification is needed to determine whether these terms are synonymous or actually describe different research processes. In addition, it remains unclear if the role that communities play in the actual research process follows the recommendations given in theoretical frameworks of community-academia research.
The objective of this study is to review the existing terms and definitions regarding community-academic partnerships and assess how studies are implementing these in relation to conceptual definitions.
A systematic literature review was conducted in PubMed. Two reviewers independently assessed each article, applying the following inclusion criteria: the article must be published in English before 2013; it must provide an explicit definition and/or defining methodology for a term describing research with a community component; and it has to refer to HIV or AIDS, reproductive health and/or STDs. When disagreements about the relevance of an article emerged, a third reviewer was involved until concordance was reached. Data were extracted by one reviewer and independently verified by a second. Qualitative data were analyzed using MaxQDA for content and thematic analyses while quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Community feedback on data analysis and presentation of results was also incorporated.
In total, 246 articles were retrieved, 159 of which fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The number of studies that included community participation in the field of HIV research increased between 1991 and 2012, and the terms used to describe these activities have changed, moving away from action research (AR) to participatory action research (PAR), community-based research (CBR) and community-based participatory research (CBPR), with the latter being the most commonly used term. While definitions of all terms had common characteristics (e.g. participation of community in research process), they varied with regard to the emphasis placed on these characteristics. The nature of community participation in reviewed studies differed considerably from that described in theoretical models.
This study indicates the increase of participatory approaches in HIV research and underlines the need for clarification of terms and a framework providing orientation to community-academia partnerships.
PMCID: PMC4309828  PMID: 25630823
HIV; action research; participatory action research; community-based research; community-based participatory research; community involvement; literature review
4.  Hepatitis C Viremia and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease in HIV-Infected Individuals 
Lucas, Gregory M. | Jing, Yuezhou | Sulkowski, Mark | Abraham, Alison G. | Estrella, Michelle M. | Atta, Mohamed G. | Fine, Derek M. | Klein, Marina B. | Silverberg, Michael J. | Gill, M. John | Moore, Richard D. | Gebo, Kelly A. | Sterling, Timothy R. | Butt, Adeel A. | Kirk, Gregory D. | Benson, Constance A. | Bosch, Ronald J. | Collier, Ann C. | Boswell, Stephen | Grasso, Chris | Mayer, Ken | Hogg, Robert S. | Harrigan, Richard | Montaner, Julio | Cescon, Angela | Brooks, John T. | Buchacz, Kate | Gebo, Kelly A. | Moore, Richard D. | Carey, John T. | Rodriguez, Benigno | Horberg, Michael A. | Silverberg, Michael J. | Horberg, Michael A. | Thorne, Jennifer E. | Goedert, James J. | Jacobson, Lisa P. | Klein, Marina B. | Rourke, Sean B. | Burchell, Ann | Rachlis, Anita R. | Rico, Puerto | Hunter-Mellado, Robert F. | Mayor, Angel M. | Gill, M. John | Deeks, Steven G. | Martin, Jeffrey N. | Patel, Pragna | Brooks, John T. | Saag, Michael S. | Mugavero, Michael J. | Willig, James | Eron, Joseph J. | Napravnik, Sonia | Kitahata, Mari M. | Crane, Heidi M. | Justice, Amy C. | Dubrow, Robert | Fiellin, David | Sterling, Timothy R. | Haas, David | Bebawy, Sally | Turner, Megan | Gange, Stephen J. | Anastos, Kathryn | Moore, Richard D. | Saag, Michael S. | Gange, Stephen J. | Kitahata, Mari M. | McKaig, Rosemary G. | Justice, Amy C. | Freeman, Aimee M. | Moore, Richard D. | Freeman, Aimee M. | Lent, Carol | Kitahata, Mari M. | Van Rompaey, Stephen E. | Crane, Heidi M. | Webster, Eric | Morton, Liz | Simon, Brenda | Gange, Stephen J. | Althoff, Keri N. | Abraham, Alison G. | Lau, Bryan | Zhang, Jinbing | Jing, Jerry | Golub, Elizabeth | Modur, Shari | Hanna, David B. | Rebeiro, Peter | Wong, Cherise | Mendes, Adell
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(8):1240-1249.
Background. The role of active hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication in chronic kidney disease (CKD) risk has not been clarified.
Methods. We compared CKD incidence in a large cohort of HIV-infected subjects who were HCV seronegative, HCV viremic (detectable HCV RNA), or HCV aviremic (HCV seropositive, undetectable HCV RNA). Stages 3 and 5 CKD were defined according to standard criteria. Progressive CKD was defined as a sustained 25% glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decrease from baseline to a GFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. We used Cox models to calculate adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results. A total of 52 602 HCV seronegative, 9508 HCV viremic, and 913 HCV aviremic subjects were included. Compared with HCV seronegative subjects, HCV viremic subjects were at increased risk for stage 3 CKD (adjusted HR 1.36 [95% CI, 1.26, 1.46]), stage 5 CKD (1.95 [1.64, 2.31]), and progressive CKD (1.31 [1.19, 1.44]), while HCV aviremic subjects were also at increased risk for stage 3 CKD (1.19 [0.98, 1.45]), stage 5 CKD (1.69 [1.07, 2.65]), and progressive CKD (1.31 [1.02, 1.68]).
Conclusions. Compared with HIV-infected subjects who were HCV seronegative, both HCV viremic and HCV aviremic individuals were at increased risk for moderate and advanced CKD.
PMCID: PMC3778973  PMID: 23904290
HIV; hepatitis C virus; chronic kidney disease; hepatitis C RNA; cohort study; glomerular filtration rate; injection drug use
5.  Closing the Gap: Increases in Life Expectancy among Treated HIV-Positive Individuals in the United States and Canada 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81355.
Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) has significantly increased survival among HIV-positive adults in the United States (U.S.) and Canada, but gains in life expectancy for this region have not been well characterized. We aim to estimate temporal changes in life expectancy among HIV-positive adults on ART from 2000–2007 in the U.S. and Canada.
Participants were from the North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design (NA-ACCORD), aged ≥20 years and on ART. Mortality rates were calculated using participants' person-time from January 1, 2000 or ART initiation until death, loss to follow-up, or administrative censoring December 31, 2007. Life expectancy at age 20, defined as the average number of additional years that a person of a specific age will live, provided the current age-specific mortality rates remain constant, was estimated using abridged life tables.
The crude mortality rate was 19.8/1,000 person-years, among 22,937 individuals contributing 82,022 person-years and 1,622 deaths. Life expectancy increased from 36.1 [standard error (SE) 0.5] to 51.4 [SE 0.5] years from 2000–2002 to 2006–2007. Men and women had comparable life expectancies in all periods except the last (2006–2007). Life expectancy was lower for individuals with a history of injection drug use, non-whites, and in patients with baseline CD4 counts <350 cells/mm3.
A 20-year-old HIV-positive adult on ART in the U.S. or Canada is expected to live into their early 70 s, a life expectancy approaching that of the general population. Differences by sex, race, HIV transmission risk group, and CD4 count remain.
PMCID: PMC3867319  PMID: 24367482
7.  Comparison of late HIV diagnosis as a marker of care for Aboriginal versus non-Aboriginal people living with HIV in Ontario 
Studies have found that Aboriginal people living with HIV/AIDS (APHAs) are more likely than non-APHAs to receive suboptimal HIV care, yet achieve similar clinical outcomes with proper care.
To compare the proportions of individuals diagnosed late with HIV between APHAs and non-APHAs within the Ontario HIV Treatment Network Cohort Study (OCS).
The analysis included OCS participants who completed the baseline visit by November 2009. Two definitions of the outcome of late HIV diagnosis were used: the proportion of participants with an AIDS-defining illness (ADI) before or within three months of HIV diagnosis; and the proportion of participants with a CD4+ count <200 cells/mL at diagnosis. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association between Aboriginal ethnicity and late HIV diagnosis.
APHAs were more likely to be female and have lower income, education and employment. No statistically significant differences were noted in the proportions receiving a late HIV diagnosis defined by ADI (Aboriginal 5.2% versus non-Aboriginal 6.3%; P=0.40). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed a significant association between Aboriginal ethnicity and late HIV diagnosis defined by CD4+ count after adjusting for age and HIV risk factor (OR 1.55; P=0.04).
APHAs were more likely to have a CD4+ count <200 cells/mL at diagnosis but had similar clinical outcomes from late diagnosis when defined by ADI. However, differences may be underestimated due to recruitment limitations and selection bias.
Additional work is needed to address the socioeconomic and health care needs of APHAs.
PMCID: PMC3597406  PMID: 24294285
Aboriginal peoples; Access to care; Cohort study; HIV; HIV diagnosis; Quality of care
8.  Predictors of CD4:CD8 Ratio Normalization and Its Effect on Health Outcomes in the Era of Combination Antiretroviral Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77665.
HIV leads to CD4:CD8 ratio inversion as immune dysregulation progresses. We examined the predictors of CD4:CD8 normalization after combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and determined whether normalization is associated with reduced progression to AIDS-defining illnesses (ADI) and death.
A Canadian cohort of HIV-positive adults with CD4:CD8<1.2 prior to starting cART from 2000–2010 were analyzed. Predictors of (1) reaching a CD4:CD8 ≥1.2 on two separate follow-up visits >30 days apart, and (2) ADI and death from all causes were assessed using adjusted proportional hazards models.
4206 patients were studied for a median of 2.77 years and 306 (7.2%) normalized their CD4:CD8 ratio. Factors associated with achieving a normal CD4:CD8 ratio were: baseline CD4+ T-cells >350 cells/mm3, baseline CD8+ T-cells <500 cells/mm3, time-updated HIV RNA suppression, and not reporting sex with other men as a risk factor. There were 213 ADIs and 214 deaths in 13476 person-years of follow-up. Achieving a normal CD4:CD8 ratio was not associated with time to ADI/death.
In our study, few individuals normalized their CD4:CD8 ratios within the first few years of initiating modern cART. This large study showed no additional short-term predictive value of the CD4:CD8 ratio for clinical outcomes after accounting for other risk factors including age and HIV RNA.
PMCID: PMC3813720  PMID: 24204912
9.  Labor force participation and health-related quality of life in HIV-positive men who have sex with men: The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study 
AIDS and behavior  2012;16(8):2350-2360.
Too many people with HIV have left the job market permanently and those with reduced work capacity have been unable to keep their jobs. There is a need to examine the health effects of labor force participation in people with HIV. This study presents longitudinal data from 1,415 HIV-positive men who have sex with men taking part in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. Generalized Estimating Equations show that employment is associated with better physical and mental health quality of life and suggests that there may be an adaptation process to the experience of unemployment. Post-hoc analyses also suggest that people who are more physically vulnerable may undergo steeper health declines due to job loss than those who are generally healthier. However, this may also be the result of a selection effect whereby poor physical health contributes to unemployment. Policies that promote labor force participation may not only increase employment rates but also improve the health of people living with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3575137  PMID: 22814570
10.  “My body’s a 50 year-old but my brain is definitely an 85 year-old”: exploring the experiences of men ageing with HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges 
Research investigating HIV, neurocognition and ageing is well developed using neuropsychometric or other quantitative approaches; however, little is known about individuals’ subjective experiences. The purpose of this article is to explore the experiences of men aged 50 and older who self-identify as having HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges. In particular, this study uses the Episodic Disability Framework (EDF) to explore participants’ perceptions regarding: 1) symptoms/impairments, difficulties with day-to-day activities, challenges with social inclusion and uncertainty; 2) ageing as related to their HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges, and 3) the episodic nature of their HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges.
This qualitative, interpretive study involved in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 12 men aged 50 years and older who self-identified as having HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges. Participants were recruited from a neurobehavioural research unit (NBRU) at a large hospital in Toronto, Canada. Data were analyzed thematically and with reference to the EDF.
Participants’ experiences reflected all concepts within the EDF to some extent. Difficulties with daily activities were diverse but were addressed using similar living strategies. Participants described challenges with work and social relationships resulting from neurocognitive challenges. Participants downplayed the significance of uncertainty in their lives, which they attributed to effective living strategies. Most men reported confusion regarding the link between their neurocognitive challenges and ageing. Others discussed ageing as an asset that helped with coping.
This is the first study to use a disability framework to examine the subjective experiences of men ageing with HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges. Findings reframe the episodic disability experienced by these individuals as being predictably linked to certain triggers. As such, support for managing neurocognitive challenges could focus on triggers that exacerbate the condition in addition to the impairments themselves. The study also describes ageing as not only a source of problems but also as an asset among men growing older with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3722415  PMID: 23883539
AIDS; disability; rehabilitation; age; Poz-brain; HAND
11.  Patterns of syphilis testing in a large cohort of HIV patients in Ontario, Canada, 2000–2009 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:246.
Since 2000, reported syphilis cases increased ten-fold in Canada, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM) co-infected with HIV. We characterized temporal patterns of of syphilis testing in a large cohort of HIV patients in Ontario, Canada.
We analyzed data from a multi-site cohort of people in HIV care from 2000 to 2009. Data were obtained from medical charts, interviews and record linkage with the syphilis test database at the Public Health Ontario Laboratories. We estimated the proportion that had syphilis testing at least once per year and the period and annual prevalence of reactive tests.
Among 4232 participants, the annual proportion tested rose from 2.7% (95%CI 1.9, 3.5) in 2000 to 54.6% (95%CI 52.9, 56.3) in 2009. Testing was most common for participants who were men who have sex with men (MSM), aged <30, recently diagnosed with HIV, were antiretroviral treatment naive, had routine HIV lab testing at least twice in that year, or tested for syphilis in the preceding year. The proportion with at least one reactive test in 2000–09 was 21.0% (95%CI 19.4, 22.7) for MSM, 5.3% (95%CI 3.3, 7.4) for non-MSM males, and 2.6% (95%CI 1.2, 4.0) for women. Among MSM, the annual prevalence of reactive syphilis tests with high RPR titre (≥1:16) peaked at 3.8% in 2009.
The burden of syphilis co-infection rose considerably among HIV-positive MSM, such that by 2009, at least 1 in 5 men had laboratory evidence of current or past infection. Interventions may be needed to boost syphilis testing to achieve goals set by guidelines even in settings with universal health care.
PMCID: PMC3668135  PMID: 23710699
Syphilis; HIV co-infections; Screening and diagnosis; Epidemiology
12.  Risk of Anal Cancer in HIV-Infected and HIV-Uninfected Individuals in North America 
In a large North American cohort study, anal cancer incidence rates were substantially higher for HIV-infected men who have sex with men, other men, and women compared with HIV-uninfected individuals. Rates increased from 1996–1999 to 2000–2003 but plateaued by 2004–2007.
Background. Anal cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), although few have evaluated rates separately for men who have sex with men (MSM), other men, and women. There are also conflicting data regarding calendar trends.
Methods. In a study involving 13 cohorts from North America with follow-up between 1996 and 2007, we compared anal cancer incidence rates among 34 189 HIV-infected (55% MSM, 19% other men, 26% women) and 114 260 HIV-uninfected individuals (90% men).
Results. Among men, the unadjusted anal cancer incidence rates per 100 000 person-years were 131 for HIV-infected MSM, 46 for other HIV-infected men, and 2 for HIV-uninfected men, corresponding to demographically adjusted rate ratios (RRs) of 80.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 42.7–151.1) for HIV-infected MSM and 26.7 (95% CI, 11.5–61.7) for other HIV-infected men compared with HIV-uninfected men. HIV-infected women had an anal cancer rate of 30/100 000 person-years, and no cases were observed for HIV-uninfected women. In a multivariable Poisson regression model, among HIV-infected individuals, the risk was higher for MSM compared with other men (RR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.8–6.0), but no difference was observed comparing women with other men (RR, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.5–2.2). In comparison with the period 2000–2003, HIV-infected individuals had an adjusted RR of 0.5 (95% CI, .3–.9) in 1996–1999 and 0.9 (95% CI, .6–1.2) in 2004–2007.
Conclusions. Anal cancer rates were substantially higher for HIV-infected MSM, other men, and women compared with HIV-uninfected individuals, suggesting a need for universal prevention efforts. Rates increased after the early antiretroviral therapy era and then plateaued.
PMCID: PMC3297645  PMID: 22291097
13.  Representativeness of an HIV cohort of the sites from which it is recruiting: results from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) cohort study 
Participation bias is a well-known phenomenon in epidemiologic research, where individuals consenting to research studies differ from individuals who are not able or willing to participate. These dissimilarities may limit the generalizability of results of research studies. Quantification of the participation bias is essential for the interpretation of research findings.
The Ontario HIV Treatment Network Cohort Study (OCS) is an ongoing open cohort study of HIV positive individuals receiving care at one of 11 sites in Ontario. OCS participants from 4 sites were compared to non-participants (those who declined or were not approached) at those sites with regard to gender, age, HIV risk factor, CD4 count and viral load (VL). Generalized logit regression models were used to identify predictors of declining to participate or not being approached to participate.
Compared to participants (P) in the OCS, individuals who declined to participate (D) and those who were not approached (NA) were slightly younger (D:45, NA:44 vs P:46), less likely to be male (D: 71%, NA:75% vs P:88%), less likely to be Caucasian (D:41%, NA:57% vs P:72%) and less likely to be Canadian-born (D: 39%, NA: 52% vs P: 69%). Patients who were not approached to participate were less likely to have VL < 50 copies/mL than other patients (D: 75%, NA: 62%, P: 74%) and had lower CD4 counts than OCS participants (D: 450 cells/mm3, NA: 420 cells/mm3, P: 480 cells/mm3).
Significant demographic and clinical differences were found between OCS participants and non-participants. Extrapolation of research findings to other populations should be undertaken cautiously.
PMCID: PMC3608156  PMID: 23496868
Participation bias; Selection bias; HIV; Generalizability; Representativeness
14.  Systematic Review of HIV Transmission between Heterosexual Serodiscordant Couples where the HIV-Positive Partner Is Fully Suppressed on Antiretroviral Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55747.
The risk of sexual HIV transmission in serodiscordant couples when the HIV-positive partner has full virologic suppression on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is debated. This study aims to systematically review observational studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs), evaluating rates of sexual HIV transmission between heterosexual serodiscordant couples when the HIV-positive partner has full suppression on cART.
Methods and Findings
We searched major bibliographic databases to November 2012 for relevant observational studies and RCTs without language restrictions. Conference proceedings, key journals and bibliographies were also searched. Studies reporting HIV transmission rates, cART histories and viral loads of the HIV-positive partners were included. Two reviewers extracted methodologic characteristics and outcomes. Of 20,252 citations, 3 studies met all eligibility criteria with confirmed full virologic suppression in the HIV-positive partner. We included 3 additional studies (2 cohort studies, 1 RCT) that did not confirm viral suppression in the HIV-positive partner at transmission in a secondary meta-analysis. Methodologic quality was reasonable. The rate of transmission in the 3 studies confirming virologic suppression was 0 per 100 person-years (95% CI = 0–0.05), with low heterogeneity (I2 = 0%). When we included the 3 studies that did not confirm virologic suppression, the rate of transmission was 0.14 per 100 person-years (95%CI = 0.04–0.31) (I2 = 0%). In a sensitivity analysis including all 6 studies, the rate of transmission was 0 per 100 person-years (95%CI = 0–0.01) after omitting all transmissions with known detectable or unconfirmed viral loads, as full suppression in these cases was unlikely. Limitations included lack of data on same-sex couples, type of sexual intercourse (vaginal vs. anal), direction of HIV transmission, exact viral load at the time of transmission, sexually transmitted infections (STI) rates, and extent of condom use.
Our findings suggest minimal risk of sexual HIV transmission for heterosexual serodiscordant couples when the HIV-positive partner has full viral suppression on cART with caveats regarding information on sexual intercourse type, STIs, and condom use. These findings have implications when counseling heterosexual serodiscordant couples on sexual and reproductive health. More research is needed to explore HIV transmission risk between same-sex couples.
PMCID: PMC3572113  PMID: 23418455
15.  Gender and Ethnicity Differences in HIV-related Stigma Experienced by People Living with HIV in Ontario, Canada 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e48168.
This study aimed to understand gender and ethnicity differences in HIV-related stigma experienced by 1026 HIV-positive individuals living in Ontario, Canada that were enrolled in the OHTN Cohort Study. Total and subscale HIV-related stigma scores were measured using the revised HIV-related Stigma Scale. Correlates of total stigma scores were assessed in univariate and multivariate linear regression. Women had significantly higher total and subscale stigma scores than men (total, median = 56.0 vs. 48.0, p<0.0001). Among men and women, Black individuals had the highest, Aboriginal and Asian/Latin-American/Unspecified people intermediate, and White individuals the lowest total stigma scores. The gender-ethnicity interaction term was significant in multivariate analysis: Black women and Asian/Latin-American/Unspecified men reported the highest HIV-related stigma scores. Gender and ethnicity differences in HIV-related stigma were identified in our cohort. Findings suggest differing approaches may be required to address HIV-related stigma based on gender and ethnicity; and such strategies should challenge racist and sexist stereotypes.
PMCID: PMC3531426  PMID: 23300514
16.  Influence of employment and job security on physical and mental health in adults living with HIV: cross-sectional analysis 
Open Medicine  2012;6(4):e118-e126.
In the general population, job insecurity may be as harmful to health as unemployment. Some evidence suggests that employment is associated with better health outcomes among people with HIV, but it is not known whether job security offers additional quality-of-life benefits beyond the benefits of employment alone.
We used baseline data for 1660 men and 270 women who participated in the Ontario HIV Treatment Network Cohort Study, an ongoing observational cohort study that collects clinical and socio-behavioural data from people with HIV in the province of Ontario, Canada. We performed multivariable regression analyses to determine the contribution of employment and job security to health-related quality of life after controlling for potential confounders.
Employed men with secure jobs reported significantly higher mental health–related quality of life than those who were non-employed (β = 5.27, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.07 to 6.48), but insecure employment was not associated with higher mental health scores relative to non-employment (β = 0.18, 95% CI –1.53 to 1.90). Thus, job security was associated with a 5.09-point increase on a 100-point mental health quality-of-life score (95% CI 3.32 to 6.86). Among women, being employed was significantly associated with both physical and mental health quality of life, but job security was not associated with additional health benefits.
Participation in employment was associated with better quality of life for both men and women with HIV. Among men, job security was associated with better mental health, which suggests that employment may offer a mental health benefit only if the job is perceived to be secure. Employment policies that promote job security may offer not only income stability but also mental health benefits, although this additional benefit was observed only for men.
PMCID: PMC3654507  PMID: 23687526
17.  Housing Characteristics and their Influence on Health-Related Quality of Life in Persons Living with HIV in Ontario, Canada: Results from the Positive Spaces, Healthy Places Study 
AIDS and Behavior  2012;16(8):2361-2373.
Although lack of housing is linked with adverse health outcomes, little is known about the impacts of the qualitative aspects of housing on health. This study examined the association between structural elements of housing, housing affordability, housing satisfaction and health-related quality of life over a 1-year period. Participants were 509 individuals living with HIV in Ontario, Canada. Regression analyses were conducted to examine relationships between housing variables and physical and mental health-related quality of life. We found significant cross-sectional associations between housing and neighborhood variables—including place of residence, housing affordability, housing stability, and satisfaction with material, meaningful and spatial dimensions of housing—and both physical and mental health-related quality of life. Our analyses also revealed longitudinal associations between housing and neighborhood variables and health-related quality of life. Interventions that enhance housing affordability and housing satisfaction may help improve health-related quality of life of people living with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3481053  PMID: 22903401
Housing; Housing affordability; Housing satisfaction; Health-related quality of life; HIV
18.  Chronic Care Model Decision Support and Clinical Information Systems Interventions for People Living with HIV: A Systematic Review 
The Chronic Care Model is an effective framework for improving chronic disease management. There is scarce literature describing this model for people living with HIV. Decision Support (DS) and Clinical Information Systems (CIS) are two components of this model that aim to improve care by changing health care provider behavior.
Our aim was to assess the effectiveness of DS and CIS interventions for individuals with HIV, through a systematic literature review.
We performed systematic electronic searches from 1996 to February 2011 of the medical (E.g. Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL) and grey literature. Effectiveness was measured by the frequency of statistically significant outcome improvement. Data and key equity indicator extraction and synthesis was completed.
We included comparative studies of people living with HIV that examined the impact of DS or CIS interventions on outcomes.
The following measures were assessed: outcome (immunological/virological, medical, psychosocial, economic measures) and health care process/performance measures.
Records were screened for relevance (n = 10,169), full-text copies of relevant studies were obtained (n = 123), and 16 studies were included in the review. Overall, 5/9 (55.6%) and 17/41 (41.5%) process measures and 5/12 (41.7%) and 3/9 (33.3%) outcome measures for DS and CIS interventions, respectively, were statistically significantly improved. DS–explicit mention of implementation of guidelines and CIS-reminders showed the most frequent improvement in outcomes. DS-only interventions were more effective than CIS-only interventions in improving both process and outcome measures. Clinical, statistical and methodological heterogeneity among studies precluded meta-analysis. Primary studies were methodologically weak and often included multifaceted interventions that made assessment of effectiveness challenging.
Overall, DS and CIS interventions may modestly improve care for people living with HIV, having a greater impact on process measures compared to outcome measures. These interventions should be considered as part of strategies to improve HIV care through changing provider performance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-012-2145-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3539016  PMID: 22790615
HIV/AIDS; chronic disease management; Chronic Care Model; decision support; clinical information systems; practice guidelines; systematic review
19.  Evaluation of brief screening tools for neurocognitive impairment in HIV/AIDS: a systematic review of the literature 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(15):2385-2401.
To systematically review literature on brief screening tools used to detect and differentiate between normal cognition and neurocognitive impairment and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs) in adult populations of persons with HIV.
A formal systematic review.
We searched six electronic databases in 2011 and contacted experts to identify relevant studies published through May 2012. We selected empirical studies that focused on evaluating brief screening tools (<20 min) for neurocognitive impairment in persons with HIV. Two reviewers independently reviewed retrieved literature for potential relevance and methodological quality. Meta-analyses were completed on screening tools that had sufficient data.
Fifty-one studies met inclusion criteria; we focused on 31 studies that compared brief screening tools with reference tests. Within these 31 studies, 39 tools were evaluated and 67% used a comprehensive neuropsychological battery as a reference. The majority of these studies evaluated HIV-associated dementia (HAD). Meta-analyses demonstrated that the HIV Dementia Scale (HDS) has poor pooled sensitivity (0.48) and the International HIV Dementia Scale (IHDS) has moderate pooled sensitivity (0.62) in detecting a range of cognitive impairment. Five newer screening tools had relatively good sensitivities (>0.70); however, none of the tools differentiated HAND conditions well enough to suggest broader use. There were significant methodological shortcomings noted in most studies.
HDS and IHDS perform well to screen for HAD but poorly for milder HAND conditions. Further investigation, with improved methodology, is required to understand the utility of newer screening tools for HAND; further tools may need to be developed for milder HAND conditions.
PMCID: PMC3814629  PMID: 23751261
diagnosis; HIV/AIDS; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder; neurocognitive impairment; screening tool
20.  Social determinants of health associated with hepatitis C co-infection among people living with HIV: results from the Positive Spaces, Healthy Places study 
Open Medicine  2011;5(3):e132-133.
Social determinants of health (SDOH) may influence the probability of people living with HIV also being infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). We compared the SDOH of adults co-infected with HCV/HIV with that of HIV mono-infected adults to identify factors independently associated with HCV infection.
In this cross-sectional study, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 509 HIV-infected adults affiliated with or receiving services from community-based AIDS service organizations (CBAOs). The primary outcome measure was self-reported HCV infection status. Chi-square, Student’s t tests, and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were performed to compare SDOH of HCV/HIV co-infected participants with that of HIV mono-infected participants. Multivariable hierarchical logistic regression was used to identify factors independently associated with HCV co-infection.
Data on 482 (95 HCV/HIV co-infected and 387 HIV mono-infected) adults were analyzed. Compared with participants infected with HIV only, those who were co-infected with HIV and HCV were more likely to be heterosexual, Aboriginal, less educated and unemployed. They were more likely to have a low income, to not be receiving antiretroviral treatment, to live outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), to use/abuse substances, experience significant depression, and utilize addiction counselling and needle-exchange services. They also were more likely to report a history of homelessness and perceived housing-related discrimination and to have moved twice or more in the previous 12 months. Factors independently associated with HCV/HIV co-infection were history of incarceration (odds ratio [OR] 8.81, 95% CI 4.43–17.54), history of homelessness (OR 3.15, 95% CI 1.59–6.26), living outside of the GTA (OR 3.13, 95% CI 1.59–6.15), and using/abusing substances in the past 12 months (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.07–3.91).
Differences in SDOH exist between HIV/HCV co-infected and HIV mono-infected adults. History of incarceration, history of homelessness, substance use, and living outside the GTA were independently associated with HCV/HIV co-infection. Interventions that reduce homelessness and incarceration may help prevent HCV infection in people living with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3205830  PMID: 22046224
21.  Late Presentation for HIV Care in the United States and Canada 
Initiatives to improve early detection and access to HIV services have increased over time. We assessed the immune status of patients at initial presentation for HIV care from 1997-2007 in 13 US and Canadian clinical cohorts.
We analyzed data from 44,491 HIV-infected patients enrolled in the North American – AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design. We identified first presentation for HIV care as the time of first CD4+ T-lymphocyte (CD4) measurement and excluded patients who prior to this date had HIV RNA measurements, evidence of antiretroviral exposure, or a history of AIDS-defining illness. Trends in mean CD4 count (measured as cells/mm3) and 95% confidence intervals ([,]) were determined using linear regression adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, HIV transmission risk and cohort.
Median age at first presentation for HIV care increased over time (range 40-43 years, p<0.01), while the proportion of patients with injection drug use HIV transmission risk decreased (26% to 14%, p<0.01) and heterosexual transmission risk increased (16% to 23%, p<0.01). Median CD4 at presentation increased from 256 (IQR: 96-455) to 317 (IQR: 135-517) in 1997 to 2007 (p<0.01). The proportion with a CD4 count ≥350 at first presentation also increased from 1997 to 2007 (38% to 46%, p=<0.01). The estimated adjusted mean CD4 count increased at a rate of 6 [5, 7] per year.
CD4 count at first presentation for HIV care has increased annually over the past 11 years, but has remained <350 cells/mm3, suggesting the urgent need for earlier HIV diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC2862849  PMID: 20415573
CD4 Lymphocyte Count; Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data; HIV Infections / therapy; United States; Canada
22.  Community capacity to acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence: a survey of Ontario's HIV/AIDS sector 
Community-based organizations (CBOs) are important stakeholders in health systems and are increasingly called upon to use research evidence to inform their advocacy, program planning, and service delivery. To better support CBOs to find and use research evidence, we sought to assess the capacity of CBOs in the HIV/AIDS sector to acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence in their work.
We invited executive directors of HIV/AIDS CBOs in Ontario, Canada (n = 51) to complete the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation's "Is Research Working for You?" survey.
Based on responses from 25 organizations that collectively provide services to approximately 32,000 clients per year with 290 full-time equivalent staff, we found organizational capacity to acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence to be low. CBO strengths include supporting a culture that rewards flexibility and quality improvement, exchanging information within their organization, and ensuring that their decision-making processes have a place for research. However, CBO Executive Directors indicated that they lacked the skills, time, resources, incentives, and links with experts to acquire research, assess its quality and reliability, and summarize it in a user-friendly way.
Given the limited capacity to find and use research evidence, we recommend a capacity-building strategy for HIV/AIDS CBOs that focuses on providing the tools, resources, and skills needed to more consistently acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence. Such a strategy may be appropriate in other sectors and jurisdictions as well given that CBO Executive Directors in the HIV/AIDS sector in Ontario report low capacity despite being in the enviable position of having stable government infrastructure in place to support them, benefiting from long-standing investment in capacity building, and being part of an active provincial network. CBOs in other sectors and jurisdictions that have fewer supports may have comparable or lower capacity. Future research should examine a larger sample of CBO Executive Directors from a range of sectors and jurisdictions.
PMCID: PMC3123230  PMID: 21619682
23.  Effects of an evidence service on community-based AIDS service organizations' use of research evidence: A protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
To support the use of research evidence by community-based organizations (CBOs) we have developed 'Synthesized HIV/AIDS Research Evidence' (SHARE), which is an evidence service for those working in the HIV sector. SHARE consists of several components: an online searchable database of HIV-relevant systematic reviews (retrievable based on a taxonomy of topics related to HIV/AIDS and open text search); periodic email updates; access to user-friendly summaries; and peer relevance assessments. Our objective is to evaluate whether this 'full serve' evidence service increases the use of research evidence by CBOs as compared to a 'self-serve' evidence service.
We will conduct a two-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT), along with a follow-up qualitative process study to explore the findings in greater depth. All CBOs affiliated with Canadian AIDS Society (n = 120) will be invited to participate and will be randomized to receive either the 'full-serve' version of SHARE or the 'self-serve' version (a listing of relevant systematic reviews with links to records on PubMed and worksheets that help CBOs find and use research evidence) using a simple randomized design. All management and staff from each organization will be provided access to the version of SHARE that their organization is allocated to. The trial duration will be 10 months (two-month baseline period, six-month intervention period, and two month crossover period), the primary outcome measure will be the mean number of logins/month/organization (averaged across the number of users from each organization) between baseline and the end of the intervention period. The secondary outcome will be intention to use research evidence as measured by a survey administered to one key decision maker from each organization. For the qualitative study, one key organizational decision maker from 15 organizations in each trial arm (n = 30) will be purposively sampled. One-on-one semi-structured interviews will be conducted by telephone on their views about and their experiences with the evidence service they received, how helpful it was in their work, why it was helpful (or not helpful), what aspects were most and least helpful and why, and recommendations for next steps.
To our knowledge, this will be the first RCT to evaluate the effects of an evidence service specifically designed to support CBOs in finding and using research evidence.
Trial registration NCT01257724
PMCID: PMC3127774  PMID: 21619622
24.  CD4 count at presentation for HIV care in the United States and Canada: Are those over 50 years more likely to have a delayed presentation? 
We assessed CD4 count at initial presentation for HIV care among ≥50-year-olds from 1997-2007 in 13 US and Canadian clinical cohorts and compared to <50-year-olds. 44,491 HIV-infected individuals in the North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design (NA-ACCORD) were included in our study. Trends in mean CD4 count (measured as cells/mm3) and 95% confidence intervals ([,]) were determined using linear regression stratified by age category and adjusted for gender, race/ethnicity, HIV transmission risk and cohort. From 1997-2007, the proportion of individuals presenting for HIV care who were ≥50-years-old increased from 17% to 27% (p-value < 0.01). The median CD4 count among ≥50 year-olds was consistently lower than younger adults. The interaction of age group and calendar year was significant (p-value <0.01) with both age groups experiencing modest annual improvements over time (< 50-year-olds: 5 [4 , 6] cells/mm3; ≥50-year-olds: 7 [5 , 9] cells/mm3), after adjusting for sex, race/ethnicity, HIV transmission risk group and cohort; however, increases in the two groups were similar after 2000. A greater proportion of older individuals had an AIDS-defining diagnosis at, or within three months prior to, first presentation for HIV care compared to younger individuals (13% vs. 10%, respectively). Due to the increasing proportion, consistently lower CD4 counts, and more advanced HIV disease in adults ≥50-year-old at first presentation for HIV care, renewed HIV testing efforts are needed.
PMCID: PMC3022663  PMID: 21159161
25.  Trends in Multidrug Treatment Failure and Subsequent Mortality among Antiretroviral Therapy–Experienced Patients with HIV Infection in North America 
Although combination antiretroviral therapy continues to evolve, with potentially more effective options emerging each year, the ability of therapy to prevent multiple regimen failure and mortality in clinical practice remains poorly defined.
Sixteen cohorts representing over 60 sites contributed data on all individuals who initiated combination antiretroviral therapy. We identified those individuals who experienced virologic failure (defined as a human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] RNA level >1000 copies/mL), received modified therapy, and subsequently had a second episode of virologic failure. Multivariate Cox regression was used to assess factors associated with time to second regimen failure and the time to death after the onset of second regimen failure.
Of the 42,790 individuals who received therapy, 7159 experienced a second virologic failure. The risk of second virologic failure decreased from 1996 (56 cases per 100 person-years) through 2005 (16 cases per 100 person-years; P < .001). The cumulative mortality after onset of second virologic failure was 26% at 5 years and decreased over time. A history of AIDS, a lower CD4+ T cell count, and a higher plasma HIV RNA level were each independently associated with mortality. Similar trends were observed when analysis was limited to the subset of previously treatment-naive patients
Although the rates of multiple regimen failure have decreased dramatically over the past decade, mortality rates for those who have experienced failure of at least 2 regimens have remained high. Plasma HIV RNA levels, CD4+ T cell counts at time of treatment failure, and a history of AIDS remain independent risk factors for death, which emphasizes that these factors remain important targets for those in need of more-aggressive therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC2871149  PMID: 19845473

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