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1.  Hepatitis B virus coinfection in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients: A review 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(40):14598-14614.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a leading cause of chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. Due to the shared modes of transmission, coinfection with HBV and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is not uncommon. It is estimated that 10% of HIV-infected patients worldwide are coinfected with HBV. In areas where an HBV vaccination program is implemented, the HBV seroprevalence has declined significantly. In HIV/HBV-coinfected patients, HBV coinfection accelerates immunologic and clinical progression of HIV infection and increases the risk of hepatotoxicity when combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is initiated, while HIV infection increases the risk of hepatitis events, cirrhosis, and end-stage liver disease related to chronic HBV infection. With the advances in antiviral therapy, concurrent, successful long-term suppression of HIV and HBV replication can be achieved in the cART era. To reduce the disease burden of HBV infection among HIV-infected patients, adoption of safe sex practices, avoidance of sharing needles and diluent, HBV vaccination and use of cART containing tenofovir disoproxil fumarate plus emtricitabine or lamivudine are the most effective approaches. However, due to HIV-related immunosuppression, using increased doses of HBV vaccine and novel approaches to HBV vaccination are needed to improve the immunogenicity of HBV vaccine among HIV-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC4209527  PMID: 25356024
Viral hepatitis; Seroepidemiology; Sexually transmitted diseases; Nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor; Vaccination
2.  Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction among HIV-positive patients with early syphilis: azithromycin versus benzathine penicillin G therapy 
The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, a febrile inflammatory reaction that often occurs after the first dose of chemotherapy in spirochetal diseases, may result in deleterious effects to patients with neurosyphilis and to pregnant women. A single 2-g oral dose of azithromycin is an alternative treatment to benzathine penicillin G for early syphilis in areas with low macrolide resistance. With its potential anti-inflammatory activity, the impact of azithromycin on the incidence of the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction in HIV-positive patients with early syphilis has rarely been investigated.
In HIV-positive patients with early syphilis, the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction was prospectively investigated using the same data collection form in 119 patients who received benzathine penicillin G between 2007 and 2009 and 198 who received azithromycin between 2012 and 2013, when shortage of benzathine penicillin G occurred in Taiwan. Between 2012 and 2013, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was performed to detect Treponema pallidum DNA in clinical specimens, and PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism of the 23S ribosomal RNA was performed to detect point mutations (2058G or A2059G) that are associated with macrolide resistance.
The overall incidence of the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction was significantly lower in patients receiving azithromycin than those receiving benzathine penicillin G (14.1% vs. 56.3%, p<0.001). The risk increased with higher rapid plasma reagin (RPR) titres (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] per 1-log2 increase, 1.21; confidence interval [CI], 1.04–1.41), but decreased with prior penicillin therapy for syphilis (AOR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.19–0.71) and azithromycin treatment (AOR, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.08–0.29). During the study period, 310 specimens were obtained from 198 patients with syphilis for PCR assays, from whom T. pallidum was identified in 76 patients, one of whom (1.3%) was found to be infected with T. pallidum harbouring the macrolide resistance mutation (A2058G). In subgroup analyses confined to the 75 patients infected with T. pallidum lacking resistance mutation, a statistically significantly lower risk for the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction following azithromycin treatment was noted.
Treatment with azithromycin was associated with a lower risk for the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction than that with benzathine penicillin G in HIV-positive patients with early syphilis. Previous benzathine penicillin G therapy for syphilis decreased the risk, whereas higher RPR titres increased the risk, for the reaction.
PMCID: PMC4150017  PMID: 25174641
sexually transmitted diseases; spirochetal disease; macrolides; macrolide resistance; immunomodulation
3.  Serologic response to primary vaccination with 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is better than with 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in HIV-infected patients in the era of combination antiretroviral therapy 
Objectives: The objectives of this study were to compare the serologic responses at week 48 to primary vaccination with 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) vs. 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV); and to identify factors associated with serologic response in HIV-infected adult patients with access to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART).
Methods: One hundred and four CD4-matched pairs of HIV-infected patients who underwent primary pneumococcal vaccination with 23-valent PPV or 7-valent PCV were enrolled for determinations of anti-capsular antibody responses against four serotypes (6B, 14, 19F and 23F) at baseline, 24 weeks and 48 weeks following vaccination. Significant antibody responses were defined as 2-fold or greater increase of antibody levels at week 48 compared with baseline. The logistic regression model was used to determine the factors associated with serologic response to at least one and two serotypes.
Results: At week 48, patients who received PCV demonstrated a statistically significantly higher response rate to at least 2 serotypes than those who received PPV (37.5% vs. 20.2%, p = 0.006). In multivariate analysis, factors associated with significant antibody responses to at least one or two serotypes included receipt of PCV (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.42 [95% CI, 1.23–4.78] and 3.58 [95% CI. 1.76–7.28], respectively), and undetectable plasma HIV RNA load (< 400 copies/ml) at vaccination (AOR, 1.47 [95% CI, 0.60–3.64] and 3.62 [95% CI, 1.11–11.81], respectively).
Conclusions: Primary vaccination with 7-valent PCV achieved a significantly better serologic responses to one or two out of the four serotypes studied at week 48 than with 23-valent PPV in HIV-infected patients in the cART era. Suppression of HIV replication when primary vaccination was administered was associated with better serologic responses.
PMCID: PMC3859763  PMID: 23291936
Streptococcus pneumoniae; pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine; HIV infection; immunogenicity; combination antiretroviral therapy
4.  Evaluation of Macrolide Resistance and Enhanced Molecular Typing of Treponema pallidum in Patients with Syphilis in Taiwan: a Prospective Multicenter Study 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(7):2299-2304.
Studies of macrolide resistance mutations and molecular typing using the newly proposed enhanced typing system for Treponema pallidum isolates obtained from HIV-infected patients in the Asia-Pacific region are scarce. Between September 2009 and December 2011, we conducted a survey to detect T. pallidum using a PCR assay using clinical specimens from patients with syphilis at six major designated hospitals for HIV care in Taiwan. The T. pallidum strains were genotyped by following the enhanced molecular typing methodology, which analyzed the number of 60-bp repeats in the acidic repeat protein (arp) gene, T. pallidum repeat (tpr) polymorphism, and the sequence of base pairs 131 to 215 in the tp0548 open reading frame of T. pallidum. Detection of A2058G and A2059G point mutations in the T. pallidum 23S rRNA was performed with the use of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). During the 2-year study period, 211 clinical specimens were obtained from 136 patients with syphilis. T. pallidum DNA was isolated from 105 (49.8%) of the specimens, with swab specimens obtained from chancres having the highest yield rate (63.2%), followed by plasma (49.4%), serum (35.7%), and cerebrospinal fluid or vitreous fluid (18.2%) specimens. Among the 40 fully typed specimens, 11 subtypes of T. pallidum were identified. Subtype 14f/f (18 isolates) was the most common isolates, followed by 14f/c (3), 14b/c (3), and 14k/f (3). Among the isolates examined for macrolide resistance, none had the A2058G or A2059G mutation. In conclusion, we found that type 14 f/f was the most common T. pallidum strain in this multicenter study on syphilis in Taiwan and that none of the isolates exhibited 23S rRNA mutations causing resistance to macrolides.
PMCID: PMC3405618  PMID: 22518868
5.  Recent Hepatitis C Virus Infections in HIV-Infected Patients in Taiwan: Incidence and Risk Factors 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(3):781-787.
Outbreaks of sexually transmitted hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections have been recently reported in HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe, Australia, and North America. Little is known concerning whether this also occurs in other Asia-Pacific countries. Between 1994 and 2010, a prospective observational cohort study was performed to assess the incidence of recent HCV seroconversion in 892 HIV-infected patients (731 MSM and 161 heterosexuals) who were not injecting drug users. A nested case-control study was conducted to identify associated factors with recent HCV seroconversion, and phylogenetic analysis was performed using NS5B sequences amplified from seroconverters. During a total followup duration of 4,270 person-years (PY), 30 patients (3.36%) had HCV seroconversion, with an overall incidence rate of 7.03 per 1,000 PY. The rate increased from 0 in 1994 to 2000 and 2.29 in 2001 to 2005 to 10.13 per 1,000 PY in 2006 to 2010 (P < 0.05). After adjustment for age and HIV transmission route, recent syphilis remained an independent factor associated with HCV seroconversion (odds ratio, 7.731; 95% confidence interval, 3.131 to 19.086; P < 0.01). In a nested case-control study, seroconverters had higher aminotranferase levels and were more likely to have CD4 ≥ 200 cells/μl and recent syphilis than nonseroconverters (P < 0.05). Among the 21 patients with HCV viremia, phylogenetic analysis revealed 7 HCV transmission clusters or pairs (4 within genotype 1b, 2 within genotype 2a, and 1 within genotype 3a). The incidence of HCV seroconversion that is associated with recent syphilis is increasing among HIV-infected patients in Taiwan.
PMCID: PMC3295121  PMID: 22189113
6.  Amebiasis among Persons Who Sought Voluntary Counseling and Testing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection: A Case-Control Study 
This case-control study aimed to characterize the factors associated with amebiasis, defined as presence of anti-Entamoeba histolytica antibody titers of ≧ 128 by indirect hemagglutination assay, among persons seeking voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Between April 2006 and September 2009, 57 of 4,802 persons (1.2%) seeking VCT services were seropositive for E. histolytica infection. Compared with 228 seronegative controls, case subjects were older (odds ratio [OR] for per 1-year increase, 1.098; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.036, 1.165), less likely to hold bachelor degree or higher (OR, 0.359; 95% CI, 0.152, 0.846), and were more likely to be men who have sex with men (MSM) (OR, 8.382; 95% CI, 2.050, 34.266) and have oral-anal sex (OR, 4.016; 95% CI, 1.711, 9.427) in multiple logistic regression analysis. The MSM, fecal-oral contamination, lower educational achievement, and older age were associated with increased risk for amebiasis among persons seeking VCT for HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3005504  PMID: 21212204
7.  Safety of rilpivirine plus nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors in HIV-infected Taiwanese with a higher prevalence of hepatitis virus infection 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19580.
Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) containing rilpivirine plus 2 NRTIs are effective antiretroviral (ARV) regimens for ARV-naive HIV-infected patients who had baseline plasma HIV RNA load (PVL) <5 log10 copies/mL and as switch therapy for those with viral suppression. In this study, we aimed to assess the short-term safety of rilpivirine-containing regimens among HIV-infected patients who initiated or switched to rilpivirine plus two NRTIs in Taiwan.
Materials and Methods
Between January and June 2014, medical records of all HIV-infected patients who initiated or switched to rilpivirine plus two NRTIs, during the follow-up were reviewed to assess the tolerance and adverse effects. Using a standardized data collection form, we recorded data of PVL and CD4 count, serologies for hepatitis B and C virus (HBV and HCV, respectively), haemogram, aminotransferases, bilirubin and serum creatinine before starting rilpivirine-containing regimens at four weeks and every 12 weeks thereafter.
During the study period, medical records of 246 patients initiated their first ARV therapy with rilpivirine-containing regimens (n=90) or switched to rilpivirine-containing regimen from other regimens (156). Of the 246 patients, 73.4% were men who have sex with men and 9.1% and 25.6% tested positive for HBsAg and anti-HCV antibody, respectively. Baseline CD4 was 395 cells/mm3 (range, 2-1581) and PVL, 2.76 log10 copies/mL (range, <1.3>7.0 log10 copies/mL). As of 10 July, 23 patients (9.3%) stopped rilpivirine-containing regimens due to gastrointestinal upset (n=4), skin rash (2), depression (2), poor sleep (3), anaemia (4, all being with zidovudine/lamivudine), nail hyperpigmentation (1), presence of transmitted drug resistance (4), and elevated aminotransferase levels (1). The proportion of the patients with aminotransferases of fivefold or higher than the upper limit of normal (ULN) was 1.7% and 1.5% for AST and ALT, respectively, before starting rilpivirine-containing regimens; the respective value was 1.4% and 2.4% after 12 weeks of cART.
Rilpivirine-containing regimens were generally well tolerated and less than 10% of the patients had to stop rilpivirine due to various reasons. Despite a higher prevalence of chronic HBV or HCV infection, rilpivirine-containing regimens did not cause significant changes of aminotransferases from baseline.
PMCID: PMC4224849  PMID: 25394087
8.  Incidence of recent HCV infection among persons seeking voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections in Taiwan 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19640.
The incidence of recent hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) infection has been noted to be increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM), especially those with HIV infection, in several resource-rich settings. In Taiwan, the incidence of recent HCV infection increased from 0 in 1994–2000, 2.29 in 2001–2005 to 10.13 per 1000 person-years of follow-up (PYFU) in 2006–2010. In this study, we aimed to estimate the incidence rate of recent HCV infection among those individuals who sought voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) service at a University Hospital.
Between May 2006 and December 2013, 18,246 tests for HIV antibody were performed among 12,143 individuals at the VCT services. A total of 2157 clients without HIV or HCV infection at baseline were included for estimation of incidence rate of recent HCV infection. Antibodies to HCV were determined with a third-generation enzyme immunoassay. A nested case-control study with four matched controls without HCV seroconversion for one HCV seroconverter was conducted to investigate the factors associated with recent HCV infection. Phylogenetic analysis was performed among the HCV strains obtained from VCT clients and patients coinfected with HIV and HCV between 2006 and 2013.
During the study period, 2157 clients received a total of 8260 tests. The HCV seroprevalence at baseline was 0.3%. Of the 2150 HCV-negative clients who contributed 5074.99 PYFU, 17 developed HCV seroconversion (incidence rate, 3.35 per 1000 PYFU; 95% CI, 1.76–4.94); the rate increased from 2.28 per 1000 PYFU (95% CI, 0.05–4.51) in 2006–2009, to 3.33 per 1000 PYFU (95% CI, 0.86–5.80) in 2010–2011, to 4.94 per 1000 PYFU (95% CI, 0.99–8.99) in 2012–2013. In case-control study, HCV seroconverters were more likely to have HIV-infected partners, recent syphilis and a Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) titre of 4 or greater. In multivariate analysis, having HIV-infected partners remained as the only independent associated factors with HCV seroconversion (AOR, 6.931; 95% CI, 1.064–45.163). Phylogenetic analysis revealed transmission pairs and clusters, with most clustered sequences derived from MSM.
Similar to the observation among HIV-infected patients who are not IDUs, increasing trends of recent HCV infection also occur among the individuals who sought VCT services in Taiwan. Having HIV-infected partners is independently associated with recent HCV seroconversion.
PMCID: PMC4224870  PMID: 25394144
9.  Effectiveness of a reduced dose of efavirenz plus 2 NRTIs as maintenance antiretroviral therapy with the guidance of therapeutic drug monitoring 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19524.
Wide inter-patient variation of plasma efavirenz (EFV) concentrations has been observed, and a substantial proportion of HIV-positive patients may have unnecessarily higher plasma EFV concentrations than recommended while receiving EFV-containing combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) at the currently recommended daily dose of 600 mg. A lower daily dose (400 mg) of EFV has recently been demonstrated to be as efficacious as the recommended 600 mg when combined with tenofovir/mtricitabine in a multinational clinical trial, with a lower incidence of adverse effects. We aimed to use a therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM)-guided strategy to optimize the EFV dose in HIV-positive Taiwanese patients.
Materials and Methods
The plasma EFV concentrations at 12 hours (C12) after taking the previous dose were determined among HIV-positive adults who had received EFV-containing cART with viral suppression (plasma HIV RNA load (PVL) <200 copies/mL). For those with EFV C12 >2.0 mg/L, EFV (Stocrit, MSD) was reduced to half a tablet daily. Determinations of EFV C12 were repeated 4–12 weeks after switch using high-performance liquid chromatography. CYP2B6 G516T polymorphisms were determined using polymerase-chain-reaction restriction fragment-length polymorphism.
Between April 2013 and June 2014, 111 patients (95.5% male; mean age, 39 years; 96.4% with PVL <40 copies/ml; 26.4% HBsAg-positive and 7.5% anti-HCV-positive) with plasma C12 efavirenz >2.0 mg/L were switched to a reduced dose (1/2# hs) of EFV; 45.5% of them had CYP2B6 G516T or TT genotypes; and 32.4% weighed 60 kg or less. The mean baseline EFV C12 before switch was 3.65 mg/L (interquartile range (IQR), 2.62–4.17) for 111 patients, which decreased to 1.96 mg/L (IQR, 1.53–2.33) for 64 patients who had completed follow-up of C12 EFV 4 weeks after switch, with a reduction of 49.4% (IQR, 38.9–57.0%). As of 10 July, 2014, all of the 38 patients (100%) who had completed at least one follow-up of PVL achieved undetectable PVL (<40 copies/ml) following switch to a reduced dose of EFV after a mean observation of 13 weeks (IQR, 7–15 weeks).
Switch to cART containing a half tablet of EFV (1/2#) in HIV-positive Taiwanese patients with higher plasma EFV concentrations who had achieved viral suppression could maintain successful viral suppression with the guidance of TDM.
PMCID: PMC4224938  PMID: 25394033
10.  Seroincidence of HIV and prevalence of transmitted drug resistance of HIV-1 strains among persons seeking voluntary counselling and testing in Taiwan 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19758.
The total case number of persons who are newly diagnosed with HIV continues to increase in Taiwan and men who have sex with men (MSM) have re-emerged as the leading risk group for HIV transmission. In this study, we aimed to estimate the incidence rate of HIV infection among those individuals who sought voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) service at a university hospital.
Between 1 April, 2006 and 31 December, 2013, 18,246 tests for HIV antibody were performed among 12143 individuals at the VCT service. A total of 2157 individuals who tested negative for anti-HIV antibody had subsequent follow-up tests at the same VCT service, which composed the study population for estimation of incidence rate of recent HIV infection. The BED assays were used to identify recent HIV infections that occurred within the previous six months before seeking VCT service.
During the 6.5-year study period, 647 individuals were diagnosed as being HIV-positive, with an overall HIV seroprevalence of 3.55% (95% CI 3.27–3.82). The overall incidence rate of HIV infection was estimated 4.13 per 100 person-years of follow-up (95% CI 3.67–4.69 per 100 person-years of follow-up). MSM had an estimated 10-fold higher seroprevalence and seroincidence of HIV than heterosexuals. Of 647 clients testing positive for HIV, 603 clients were MSM (93.2%) and 477 patients (70.8%) subsequently sought HIV care at the hospital; 226 (47.4%) were diagnosed as having recent HIV infections by the BED assay, while 244 (51.2%) long-term infection and 7 without data by the BED assay. Of those patients, 173 (75.6%) and 178 patients (73.0%) with recent HIV infection and long-term infection had data of transmitted drug resistance mutations, respectively. The prevalence of transmitted drug resistance mutations to any class of antiretroviral therapy was 9.0% and 10.6% (p=0.68), respectively, of the HIV-1 strains from the patients with recent HIV infection and long-term infection, respectively.
The seroincidence rate of HIV among persons seeking VCT was estimated 4.13 per 100 person-years of follow-up. The prevalence of transmitted drug resistance to any class of antiretroviral agents was similar between those who were recently infected with HIV and those who had long-term infection in Taiwan.
PMCID: PMC4225397  PMID: 25397503
11.  Antiretroviral therapy (ART) management of Low-Level Viremia in Taiwan (ALLEVIATE) 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19785.
This retrospective study aimed to investigate that if switch of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) would result in viral suppression (<40 copies/mL) at 48 weeks for patients with persistent low-level viremia after having received cART for six months or more at two hospitals designated for HIV care in Taiwan.
Materials and Methods
Between January 2001 and January 2013, patients were enrolled if plasma HIV RNA load (PVL) were >20 to <1000 copies/mL detected for six months or more [1, 2]. Using a standardized data collection form, we recorded data of PVL and CD4 count before cART and at the detection of low-level viremia, serologies for hepatitis B and C virus, risk factors, duration of cART exposure, years of HIV diagnosed and ever experiencing treatment failure. The strategy of switch is based on the clinical guidelines of BHIVA, which suggest change of cART from non-nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (nNRTIs) or unboosted protease inhibitor (PI) to boosted PI, newer boosted PI or ARV of different mechanism [3].
In this study, 165 patients were enrolled, 119 patients (72.1%) did not switch (Group 1), and 46 patients (27.9%) switched previous regimens to ARV of different mechanism (Group 2). The two groups differed significantly in the proportion of injecting drug users (IDU) (Group 1 vs Group 2, 10.9 vs 26.1%) and median PVL (67 vs 159 copies/mL), and the proportion of PVL<200 copies/mL (84.0% vs 58.7%) when low-level viremia was first detected. In Group 1, 39 (32.8%) continued two nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) plus nNRTI; 29 (24.4%) 2 NRTIs plus PI, 47 (39.5%) 2 NRTIs plus boosted PI, and 4 (3.3%) 2 NRTIs plus integrase inhibitor (II). In Group 2, two (4.3%) switched to 2 NRTIs plus PI, 38 (82.6%) 2 NRTIs plus boosted PI, three (6.5%) 2 NRTIs plus II and three (6.5%) boosted PI plus II. In multivariate analysis, IDUs (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 6.757; 95% CI 2.427–18.868) and PVL of 200–999 copies/mL at enrollment (AOR, 4.902; 95% CI 1.992–12.048) were more likely to be switched. At 48 weeks, patients in Group 2 were more likely to achieve PVL<40 copies/mL than Group 1 (82.6% vs 63.0%, p=0.016), while no difference was observed in achieving PVL <200 copies/mL between the two groups (95.7% vs 92.4%, p=0.729).
According to the clinical guidelines of BHIVA, patients with low-level viremia who switched to cART consisting of 2 NRTIs plus boosted PI or newer mechanisms were more likely to re-establish viral suppression to <40 copies/mL at week 48.
PMCID: PMC4225405  PMID: 25397529
12.  Comparison of Serological Response to Doxycycline versus Benzathine Penicillin G in the Treatment of Early Syphilis in HIV-Infected Patients: A Multi-Center Observational Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109813.
While doxycycline is recommended as an alternative treatment of syphilis in patients with penicillin allergy or intolerance, clinical studies to compare serological response to doxycycline versus benzathine penicillin in treatment of early syphilis among HIV-infected patients remain sparse.
We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of HIV-infected patients with early syphilis who received doxycycline 100 mg twice daily for 14 days (doxycycline group) and those who received 1 dose of benzathine penicillin (2.4 million units) (penicillin group) between 2007 and 2013. Serological responses defined as a decline of rapid plasma reagin titer by 4-fold or greater at 6 and 12 months of treatment were compared between the two groups.
During the study period, 123 and 271 patients in the doxycycline and penicillin group, respectively, completed 6 months or longer follow-up. Ninety-one and 271 patients in the doxycycline and penicillin group, respectively, completed 12 months or longer follow-up. Clinical characteristics were similar between the two groups, except that, compared with penicillin group, doxycycline group had a lower proportion of patients with secondary syphilis (65.4% versus 41.5%, P<0.0001) and a higher proportion of patients with early latent syphilis (25.3% versus 49.6%, P<0.0001). No statistically significant differences were found in the serological response rates to doxycycline versus benzathine penicillin at 6 months (63.4% versus 72.3%, P = 0.075) and 12 months of treatment (65.9% versus 68.3%, P = 0.681). In multivariate analysis, secondary syphilis, but not treatment regimen, was consistently associated with serological response at 6 and 12 months of follow-up.
The serological response rates to a 14-day course of doxycycline and a single dose of benzathine penicillin were similar in HIV-infected patients with early syphilis at 6 and 12 months of follow-up. Patients with secondary syphilis were more likely to achieve serological response than those with other stages.
PMCID: PMC4195693  PMID: 25310367
13.  Prevalent and Incident HIV Diagnoses among Entamoeba histolytica-Infected Adult Males: A Changing Epidemiology Associated with Sexual Transmission — Taiwan, 2006–2013 
Sexually transmitted Entamoeba histolytica infection (EHI) has been increasingly recognized among men who have sex with men (MSM). We used the National Disease Surveillance Systems (NDSS) to identify prevalent and incident HIV diagnoses among adults with EHI and to determine the associated factors.
The NDSS collect demographic, clinical, and behavioral characteristics of case patients through physician reports and public health interviews. EHI was confirmed by polymerase-chain-reaction assays, histopathology, or serology with documented liver abscess. We linked NDSS databases to identify prevalent and incident HIV diagnoses among noninstitutionalized Taiwanese adults with confirmed EHI during 2006–2013. Cox proportional-hazards analysis was used to determine associated factors.
Principal findings
Of noninstitutionalized adults with EHI, we identified prevalent HIV diagnosis in 210 (40%) of 524 males and one (1.7%) of 59 females, and incident HIV diagnosis in 71 (23%) of 314 males. MSM accounted for 183 (87%) and 64 (90%) of prevalent and incident HIV diagnoses in males, respectively. From 2006–2009 to 2010–2013, the prevalence of HIV diagnosis increased from 32% to 45% (P = 0.001) while the incidence of HIV diagnosis increased from 5.4 to 11.3 per 100 person-years (P = 0.001) among males with EHI. Incident HIV diagnosis was independently associated with a younger age, residing in metropolitan areas, hospitalization, previous syphilis, and engagement in oral, anal, or oral–anal sex before illness onset.
Prevalent and incident HIV diagnoses were increasingly identified among adult males in Taiwan, preferentially affecting younger urban MSM. Surveillance and risk-reduction interventions are recommended against the interplay of HIV epidemic and sexually transmitted EHI.
Author Summary
Although sexually transmitted Entamoeba histolytica infection has been increasingly recognized among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Australia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, particularly those with HIV infection, no studies have examined E. histolytica infection in relation to HIV and attribution of sexual transmission at a national level. We analyzed the national surveillance data in Taiwan and demonstrated that the prevalent and incident HIV diagnoses increased among E. histolytica-infected adult males from 2006–2009 to 2010–2013, which were associated with previous syphilis and engagement of oral, anal, oral–anal sex. The findings indicate sexual transmission might have replaced traditional risk factors as the major route of E. histolytica transmission among adult males in Taiwan. E. histolytica infection associated with prevalent and incident HIV diagnoses preferentially affects younger urban MSM, suggesting new targets of surveillance and public health interventions for this sexually transmissible protozoan infection.
PMCID: PMC4191956  PMID: 25299178
14.  One Dose versus Three Weekly Doses of Benzathine Penicillin G for Patients Co-Infected with HIV and Early Syphilis: A Multicenter, Prospective Observational Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109667.
One dose of benzathine penicillin G (BPG) has been recommended for HIV-infected patients with early syphilis (primary, secondary, and early latent syphilis) in the sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, but clinical data to support such a recommendation are limited.
We prospectively observed the serological response to 1 or 3 weekly doses of BPG in HIV-infected adults who sought treatment of early syphilis at 8 hospitals around Taiwan. Rapid plasma reagin (RPR) titers were followed every 3–6 months after treatment. The serological response was defined as a 4-fold or greater decline in RPR titers at 12 months of treatment. The missing values were treated by following the last-observed-carried-forward principle. We hypothesized that 1 dose was non-inferior to 3 weekly doses of BPG with the non-inferiority margin for the difference of serological response set to 10%.
Between 2007 and 2012, 573 patients completed at least 12 months of follow-up: 295 (51.5%) receiving 1 dose of BPG (1-dose group) and 278 (48.5%) 3 doses (3-dose group). Overall, 198 patients (67.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 61.4–72.5%) in the 1-dose group achieved serological response at 12 months, as did 208 patients (74.8%; 95% CI, 69.3–79.8%) in the 3-dose group (one-sided 95% CI of the difference, 15.1%). In the multivariate analysis, secondary syphilis (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.90; 95% CI 1.17–3.09), RPR titer ≥32 (AOR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.38–2.69), and 3 doses of BPG (AOR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.20–2.36) were independently associated with a serological response. The time to the first episode of treatment failure was 1184 (standard deviation [SD], 70.5) and 1436 (SD, 80.0) days for 1- and 3-dose group, respectively.
Single-dose BPG resulted in a higher serological failure rate and shorter time to treatment failure than 3 weekly doses of BPG in the treatment of early syphilis in HIV-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC4186862  PMID: 25286091
15.  Multicenter Study of Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole-Related Hepatotoxicity: Incidence and Associated Factors among HIV-Infected Patients Treated for Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106141.
The incidence of hepatotoxicity related to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) administered at a therapeutic dose may vary among study populations of different ethnicities and hepatotoxic metabolites of TMP/SMX may be decreased by drug-drug interaction with fluconazole. We aimed to investigate the incidence of hepatotoxicity and the role of concomitant use of fluconazole in HIV-infected patients receiving TMP/SMX for Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia. We reviewed medical records to collect clinical characteristics and laboratory data of HIV-infected patients who received TMP/SMX for treatment of P. jirovecii pneumonia at 6 hospitals around Taiwan between September 2009 and February 2013. Hepatotoxicity was defined as 2-fold or greater increase of aminotransferase or total bilirubin level from baselines. Roussel UCLAF Causality Assessment Method (RUCAM) was used to analyze the causality of drug-induced liver injuries. NAT1 and NAT2 acetylator types were determined with the use of polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) restriction fragment length polymorphism to differentiate common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) predictive of the acetylator phenotypes in a subgroup of patients. During the study period, 286 courses of TMP/SMX treatment administered to 284 patients were analyzed. One hundred and fifty-two patients (53.1%) developed hepatotoxicity, and TMP/SMX was considered causative in 47 (16.4%) who had a RUCAM score of 6 or greater. In multivariate analysis, concomitant use of fluconazole for candidiasis was the only factor associated with reduced risk for hepatotoxicity (adjusted odds ratio, 0.372; 95% confidence interval, 0.145–0.957), while serostatus of hepatitis B or C virus, NAT1 and NAT2 acetylator types, or receipt of combination antiretroviral therapy was not. The incidence of hepatotoxicity decreased with an increasing daily dose of fluconazole up to 4.0 mg/kg. We conclude that the incidence of TMP/SMX-related hepatotoxicity was 16.4% in HIV-infected Taiwanese patients who received TMP/SMX for pneumocystosis. Concomitant use of fluconazole was associated with decreased risk for TMP/SMX-related hepatotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC4153565  PMID: 25184238
16.  Comorbidities among the HIV-Infected Patients Aged 40 Years or Older in Taiwan 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104945.
With the widespread use of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), life expectancy of HIV-infected patients has significantly prolonged. An increasing number of HIV-infected patients are aging and concurrent use of medications are not uncommon for management of metabolic complications and cardiovascular diseases related to aging and prolonged exposure to cART.
We reviewed medical records of all HIV-infected patients aged 40 years or older who had been followed at a university hospital for HIV care in Taiwan between January and December 2013. A standardized case record form was used to collect information on demographics and clinical characteristics, comorbidity, cART, and concurrent medications.
During the study period, 610 patients aged 40 to 49 years (mean, 44.1) and 310 aged 50 years or older (mean, 58.8) sought HIV care at this hospital. Compared with patients aged 40 to 49 years, those aged 50 years or older were significantly more likely to be female (15.9% vs 3.8%); to have received cART (97.7% vs 94.8%) and a lower plasma HIV RNA load (1.6 vs 1.7 log10 copies/ml); and to have diabetes mellitus (18.4% vs 4.6%), hypertension (31.0% vs 10.8%), hyperlipidemia (29.4% vs 11.6%), coronary artery disease (6.8% vs 0.5%), and an estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 ml/min/1.73 m2 (11.5% vs 2.7%); and were significantly less likely to have syphilis. Other than HIV infection, patients aged 50 years or older were more likely to have been receiving two or more concurrent medications than those aged 40 to 49 years (22.9% vs 6.4%).
Our findings show a significant proportion of the HIV-infected patients aged 50 years or older have multiple comorbidities that may increase the risk for cardiovascular and renal complications. Issues of poly-pharmacy among the HIV-infected patients who are aging should be addressed to ensure adherence and minimize drug-drug interactions.
PMCID: PMC4132082  PMID: 25119532
17.  Differential Impact of Resistance-Associated Mutations to Protease Inhibitors and Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors on HIV-1 Replication Capacity 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(8):1117-1122.
The effects of drug resistance on HIV-1 replication capacity have been studied, but data from clinical isolates are few. We accessed the patients with HIV-1 infection at the National Taiwan University Hospital who experienced virological failure. Genotypic susceptibility and replication capacity of clinical HIV-1 isolates were measured. There were 80 patients enrolled between September 2007 and August 2010. The HIV-1 replication capacity declined significantly with the increasing number of major resistance-associated mutations (RAMs) to protease inhibitors (PIs) (p<0.001); however, it did not decline significantly with the increasing RAMs to first-line nonnucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) (p=0.098). Regarding the effects of resistance to antiretroviral drugs in salvage therapy, decreased replication capacity was noted with the increasing RAMs to darunavir/ritonavir (p<0.001) and specific RAMs (L100I, K101P, and Y181C/I/V) to etravirine (p<0.001). Although NNRTI-related RAMs have less remarkable effects, both PI- and NNRTI-related RAMs reduced replication capacity, especially RAMs to darunavir/ritonavir and etravirine, which are commonly used in salvage therapy for treatment of patients infected with highly resistant HIV. Thus, decreased viral fitness during the emergence of RAMs suggests the importance of continued optimal antiretroviral treatment even when virological failure was noted.
PMCID: PMC3715794  PMID: 23594266
18.  Seroprevalence of Hepatitis B Virus among Adults at High Risk for HIV Transmission Two Decades after Implementation of Nationwide Hepatitis B Virus Vaccination Program in Taiwan 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90194.
Seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) after implementation of universal neonatal HBV vaccination and catch-up vaccination programs remains rarely investigated among the adults who were born in the vaccination era (in or after 1986) and engaged in high-risk sexual behaviors.
Materials and Methods
Between 2006 and 2012, we determined HBV surface antigen ([HBsAg), anti-HBs, and HBV core antibody (anti-HBc), hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV) and rapid plasma reagin titers among HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) born during 1984–1985 (Group I: 244 persons) and those born in or after 1986 (Group II: 523), and HIV-uninfected MSM (Group III: 377) and heterosexuals (Group IV: 217) born in or after 1986. Prevalence and incidence of HBV infection were estimated and multivariate analysis was performed to identify factors associated with HBsAg positivity.
Compared with Group I, Groups II-IV had a significantly lower prevalence of HBsAg positivity (7.8% vs 3.7%, 2.4%, and 3.2%, respectively); and the prevalence of anti-HBc positivity was also lower for Groups III and IV (30.3% vs. 19.6%, and 18.0%, respectively), but no difference was observed between Groups I and II (30.3% vs. 26.3%). In multivariate analysis, HBsAg positivity was significantly associated with syphilis (adjusted odds ratio, 2.990; 95% confidence interval, 1.502–5.953) and anti-HCV positivity (adjusted odds ratio, 3.402; 95% confidence interval, 1.091–10.614). In subjects of Group II with all-negative HBV markers at baseline, the incidence rate of HBsAg seroconversion was 0.486 episodes per 100 person-years; and for those who received combination antiretroviral therapy containing lamivudine and/or tenofovir, none developed HBsAg seroconversion during the follow-up.
Among the adults who were born in or after 1986 and engaged in high-risk sexual behaviors in Taiwan, neonatal HBV vaccination and catch-up vaccination programs conferred long-term protection against HBsAg seroconversion and HBsAg positivity was associated with syphilis and anti-HCV positivity.
PMCID: PMC3935970  PMID: 24587275
19.  Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Pharmacogenetic Study of HIV-Infected Ethnic Chinese Receiving Efavirenz-Containing Antiretroviral Therapy with or without Rifampicin-Based Anti-Tuberculous Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88497.
Plasma efavirenz concentrations in HIV-infected patients with tuberculosis (TB) may be affected by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2B6 single-nucleotide polymorphisms and concurrent rifampicin use. We aimed to investigate the effects of CYP2B6 G516T polymorphisms and concomitant rifampicin use on the plasma efavirenz concentrations in HIV-infected Taiwanese.
HIV-infected patients with or without TB who had received combination antiretroviral therapy containing efavirenz (600 mg daily) for two weeks or greater were enrolled for determinations of CYP2B6 G516T polymorphism and plasma efavirenz concentrations with the use of polymerase-chain-reaction restriction fragment-length polymorphism and high-performance liquid chromatography, respectively.
From October 2009 to August 2012, 171 HIV-infected patients, including 18 with TB, were enrolled 113 (66.1%) with CYP2B6 G516G, 55 (32.2%) GT, and 3 (1.8%) TT genotype. Patients receiving rifampicin had a significantly lower median plasma efavirenz concentration than the control group (2.16 vs 2.92 mg/L, P = 0.003); however, all patients achieved target plasma concentration (>1 mg/L). Patients with GT or TT genotype had a significantly higher plasma concentration than those with GG genotype (2.50 vs 3.47 mg/L for GT genotype and 8.78 mg/L for TT genotype, P<0.001). Plasma efavirenz concentration >4 mg/L was noted in 38 (22.2%) patients, which was associated with a lower weight (per 10-kg increase, odds ratio, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.33–0.83) and GT or TT genotype (odds ratio, 4.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.97–9.59) in multivariate analysis.
Despite combination with rifampicin, sufficient plasma efavirenz concentrations can be achieved in HIV-infected Taiwanese with TB who receive efavirenz 600 mg daily. Carriage of CYP2B6 516 GT and TT genotypes and a lower weight are associated with higher plasma efavirenz concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3925114  PMID: 24551111
20.  Slow immunological progression in HIV-1 CRF07_BC-infected injecting drug users 
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) circulating recombinant form (CRF) 07_BC has caused serious HIV-1 epidemics among injecting drug users (IDUs) in East Asia. Little is known about the characteristics of the virus and its impact on disease progression among the infected individuals. In this study, we compared immunological progression between 423 IDUs infected with CRF07_BC and 194 men who have sex with men (MSM) with primary subtype B infection, and a representative full-length CRF07_BC molecular clone, pCRF07_BC, was constructed to characterize the virus. We found that IDUs infected with CRF07_BC had significantly slower immunological progression in the Cox proportional hazards model (hazard ratio: 0.30; 95% confidence interval: 0.13–0.69; P=0.004). The constructed recombinant CRF07_BC viruses had a reduced processing of the Gag/Gag-Pol polyproteins, a decreased incorporation of Vpr in the virus particle, tethering of virus particles on the plasma membrane and decreased virus growth kinetics. These phenotypes are related to the unique 7-amino acid deletion in the p6 of CRF07_BC, since complementation of the 7-amino acid in pCRF07_BC could improve the defective phenotypes. In summary, compared with MSM infected with HIV-1 subtype B, IDUs infected with CRF07_BC had slower immunological progression, which is likely correlated with interference of virus particle maturation by the 7-amino acid deletion in p6.
PMCID: PMC3880871
disease progression; growth kinetics; HIV subtype; injecting drug use; men who have sex with men; primary HIV infection
21.  Empirical use of fluoroquinolones improves the survival of critically ill patients with tuberculosis mimicking severe pneumonia 
Critical Care  2012;16(5):R207.
Empirical use of fluoroquinolones may delay the initiation of appropriate therapy for tuberculosis (TB). This study aimed to evaluate the impact of empirical fluoroquinolone use on the survival of patients with pulmonary TB that mimicked severe community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) requiring intensive care.
Patients aged >18 years with culture-confirmed pulmonary TB who presented as severe CAP and were admitted to the ICU were divided into fluoroquinolone (FQ) and nonfluoroquinolone (non-FQ) groups based on the type of empirical antibiotics used. Those patients with previous anti-TB treatment or those who died within 3 days of hospitalization were excluded. The primary end point was 100-day survival.
Of the 77 patients identified, 43 (56%) were in the FQ group and 34 (44%) were in the non-FQ group. The two groups had no statistically significant difference in co-morbidities (95% vs. 97%, P > 0.99) and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II scores (21.2 ± 7.1 vs. 22.5 ± 7.5, P = 0.46) on ICU admission. Overall, 91% and 82% of patients in the FQ and non-FQ groups, respectively, had sputum examinations for TB within 1 week of admission (P = 0.46), and results were positive in 7% and 15% (P = 0.47), respectively. For both groups, 29% received appropriate anti-TB therapy within 2 weeks after ICU admission. The 100-day mortality rate was 40% and 68% for the FQ and non-FQ groups, respectively (P = 0.02). By Cox regression analysis, APACHE score <20, no bacteremia during the ICU stay, and empirical fluoroquinolone use were independently associated with survival.
Empirical use of fluoroquinolones may improve the survival of ICU patients admitted for pulmonary TB mimicking severe CAP.
PMCID: PMC3682311  PMID: 23098258
22.  Amebiasis Deaths in the United States 
PMCID: PMC3335701  PMID: 22556095
23.  Placental Transmission of Human Parvovirus 4 in Newborns with Hydrops, Taiwan 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(10):1954-1956.
In studying the epidemiology of parvovirus 4 (PARV4) in Taiwan, we detected DNA in plasma of 3 mothers and their newborns with hydrops. In 1 additional case, only the mother had PARV4 DNA. Our findings demonstrate that PARV4 can be transmitted through the placenta.
PMCID: PMC3310659  PMID: 22000381
viruses; parvovirus B19V; parvovirus 4; hydrops; vertical transmission; infants; dispatch
24.  Molecular Epidemiology of Hepatitis D Virus Infection among Injecting Drug Users with and without Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection in Taiwan▿† 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(3):1083-1089.
An outbreak of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection occurred among injecting drug users (IDU) in Taiwan between 2003 and 2006, when an extremely high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was also detected. To determine whether clusters of hepatitis D virus (HDV) infection occurred in this outbreak, 4 groups of subjects were studied: group 1, HIV-infected IDU (n = 904); group 2, HIV-infected non-IDU (n = 880); group 3, HIV-uninfected IDU (n = 211); and group 4, HIV-uninfected non-IDU (n = 1,928). The seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) was 19.8%, 18.4%, 17.1%, and 6.7%, and HDV seroprevalence among HBV carriers was 75.4%, 9.3%, 66.7%, and 2.3%, for groups 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Ninety-nine of 151 (65.6%) HDV-seropositive IDU had HDV viremia: 5 were infected with HDV genotype I, 41 with genotype II, 51 with genotype IV, and 2 with genotypes II and IV. In the phylogenetic analysis, only one cluster of 4 strains within the HDV genotype II was identified. Among patients with HCV viremia, a unique cluster within genotype 1a was observed; yet, patients within this cluster did not overlap with those observed in the HDV phylogenetic analysis. In summary, although IDU had a significantly higher HDV seroprevalence, molecular epidemiologic investigations did not support that HDV was introduced at the same time as HCV among IDU.
PMCID: PMC3067682  PMID: 21191061
25.  Admissions to intensive care unit of HIV-infected patients in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy: etiology and prognostic factors 
Critical Care  2011;15(4):R202.
Although access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has prolonged survival and improved life quality, HIV-infected patients with severe immunosuppression or comorbidities may develop complications that require critical care support in intensive care units (ICU). This study aimed to describe the etiology and analyze the prognostic factors of HIV-infected Taiwanese patients in the HAART era.
Medical records of all HIV-infected adults who were admitted to ICU at a university hospital in Taiwan from 2001 to 2010 were reviewed to record information on patient demographics, receipt of HAART, and reason for ICU admission. Factors associated with hospital mortality were analyzed.
During the 10-year study period, there were 145 ICU admissions for 135 patients, with respiratory failure being the most common cause (44.4%), followed by sepsis (33.3%) and neurological disease (11.9%). Receipt of HAART was not associated with survival. However, CD4 count was independently predictive of hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], per-10 cells/mm3 decrease, 1.036; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.003 to 1.069). Admission diagnosis of sepsis was independently associated with hospital mortality (AOR, 2.91; 95% CI, 1.11 to 7.62). A hospital-to-ICU interval of more than 24 hours and serum albumin level (per 1-g/dl decrease) were associated with increased hospital mortality, but did not reach statistical significance in multivariable analysis.
Respiratory failure was the leading cause of ICU admissions among HIV-infected patients in Taiwan. Outcome during the ICU stay was associated with CD4 count and the diagnosis of sepsis, but was not associated with HAART in this study.
PMCID: PMC3387644  PMID: 21871086

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