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1.  The ‘Antiretrovirals, Sexual Transmission Risk and Attitudes’ (ASTRA) Study. Design, Methods and Participant Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77230.
Life expectancy for people diagnosed with HIV has improved dramatically however the number of new infections in the UK remains high. Understanding patterns of sexual behaviour among people living with diagnosed HIV, and the factors associated with having condom-less sex, is important for informing HIV prevention strategies and clinical care. In addition, in view of the current interest in a policy of early antiretroviral treatment (ART) for all people diagnosed with HIV in the UK, it is of particular importance to assess whether ART use is associated with increased levels of condom-less sex. In this context the ASTRA study was designed to investigate current sexual activity, and attitudes to HIV transmission risk, in a large unselected sample of HIV-infected patients under care in the UK. The study also gathered background information on demographic, socio-economic, lifestyle and disease-related characteristics, and physical and psychological symptoms, in order to identify other key factors impacting on HIV patients and the behaviours which underpin transmission. In this paper we describe the study rationale, design, methods, response rate and the demographic characteristics of the participants. People diagnosed with HIV infection attending 8 UK HIV out-patient clinics in 2011-2012 were invited to participate in the study. Those who agreed to participate completed a confidential, self-administered pen-and-paper questionnaire, and their latest CD4 count and viral load test results were recorded. During the study period, 5112 eligible patients were invited to take part in the study and 3258 completed questionnaires were obtained, representing a response rate of 64% of eligible patients. The study includes 2248 men who have sex with men (MSM), 373 heterosexual men and 637 women. Future results from ASTRA will be a key resource for understanding HIV transmission within the UK, targeting prevention efforts, and informing clinical care of individuals living with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3797119  PMID: 24143214
2.  Screening for Drug and Alcohol Use Disorders and Their Association with HIV-Related Sexual Risk Behaviors among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Peru 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69966.
Peru's HIV epidemic is concentrated among men who have sex with men (MSM). The contribution of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) to known high-risk behaviors associated with HIV transmission in this context has not been well characterized.
Between June and October 2011, 5,148 sexually active MSM were recruited using convenience sampling in five cities to participate in a cross-sectional bio-behavioral survey. Five high-risk sexual criteria previously associated with incident HIV infection in this setting were selected a priori as the dependent outcomes. Screening for AUDs used the validated Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and AUDS were stratified by severity. Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (AOR) were computed to establish the independent correlates of the five dependent outcomes.
The majority (62.8%) of participants met screening criteria for having an AUD, which were independently correlated with each of the following high-risk sexual risk behaviors in the previous 6 months: 1) >5 sexual partners [AOR = 1.76; (1.54–2.02)]; 2) sex with an HIV-infected partner [AOR = 1.29; (1.03–1.62)]; 3) having a sexually transmitted infection [AOR = 1.38; (1.13–1.68)]; 4) being a sex worker [AOR = 1.61; (1.40–1.87)]; and 5) unprotected sex during last encounter [AOR = 1.22; (1.09–1.38)]. Recent drug use was also correlated with having >5 sexual partners [AOR = 1.42 (1.19–1.71)], sex work [AOR = 1.97 (1.63–2.39)] and unprotected sex during last encounter [AOR = 1.31 (1.11–1.54)]. For each dependent variable, the association with AUDs significantly increased with increasing AUD severity.
AUDs are highly prevalent among MSM in Peru and are associated with increased HIV risk-taking behaviors that are associated with HIV transmission. Strategies that target problematic drinking such as medication-assisted therapy, behavioral counseling and structural interventions could potentially reduce risky behaviors and ultimately reduce HIV transmission among MSM in Peru.
PMCID: PMC3735581  PMID: 23936364
3.  Transitional Probability-Based Model for HPV Clearance in HIV-1-Positive Adolescent Females 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30736.
HIV-1-positive patients clear the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection less frequently than HIV-1-negative. Datasets for estimating HPV clearance probability often have irregular measurements of HPV status and risk factors. A new transitional probability-based model for estimation of probability of HPV clearance was developed to fully incorporate information on HIV-1-related clinical data, such as CD4 counts, HIV-1 viral load (VL), highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and risk factors (measured quarterly), and HPV infection status (measured at 6-month intervals).
Methodology and Findings
Data from 266 HIV-1-positive and 134 at-risk HIV-1-negative adolescent females from the Reaching for Excellence in Adolescent Care and Health (REACH) cohort were used in this study. First, the associations were evaluated using the Cox proportional hazard model, and the variables that demonstrated significant effects on HPV clearance were included in transitional probability models. The new model established the efficacy of CD4 cell counts as a main clearance predictor for all type-specific HPV phylogenetic groups. The 3-month probability of HPV clearance in HIV-1-infected patients significantly increased with increasing CD4 counts for HPV16/16-like (p<0.001), HPV18/18-like (p<0.001), HPV56/56-like (p = 0.05), and low-risk HPV (p<0.001) phylogenetic groups, with the lowest probability found for HPV16/16-like infections (21.60±1.81% at CD4 level 200 cells/mm3, p<0.05; and 28.03±1.47% at CD4 level 500 cells/mm3). HIV-1 VL was a significant predictor for clearance of low-risk HPV infections (p<0.05). HAART (with protease inhibitor) was significant predictor of probability of HPV16 clearance (p<0.05). HPV16/16-like and HPV18/18-like groups showed heterogeneity (p<0.05) in terms of how CD4 counts, HIV VL, and HAART affected probability of clearance of each HPV infection.
This new model predicts the 3-month probability of HPV infection clearance based on CD4 cell counts and other HIV-1-related clinical measurements.
PMCID: PMC3265500  PMID: 22292027
4.  A Cross-Sectional Study of HPV Vaccine Acceptability in Gaborone, Botswana 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25481.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in Botswana and elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. We sought to examine whether HPV vaccine is acceptable among parents in Botswana, which recently licensed the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cross-sectional survey in 2009, around the time the vaccine was first licensed, with adults recruited in general medicine and HIV clinics in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. Although only 9% (32/376) of respondents had heard of HPV vaccine prior to the survey, 88% (329/376) said they definitely will have their adolescent daughters receive HPV vaccine. Most respondents would get the vaccine for their daughters at a public or community clinic (42%) or a gynecology or obstetrician's office (39%), and 74% would get it for a daughter if it were available at her school. Respondents were more likely to say that they definitely will get HPV vaccine for their daughters if they had less education (OR = 0.20, 95% CI = 0.07–0.58) or lived more than 30 kilometers from the capital, Gaborone (OR = 2.29, 95% CI = 1.06–4.93). Other correlates of acceptability were expecting to be involved in the decision to get HPV vaccine, thinking the vaccine would be hard to obtain, and perceiving greater severity of HPV-related diseases.
HPV vaccination of adolescent girls would be highly acceptable if the vaccine became widely available to the daughters of healthcare seeking parents in Gaborone, Botswana. Potential HPV vaccination campaigns should provide more information about HPV and the vaccine as well as work to minimize barriers.
PMCID: PMC3201944  PMID: 22039413
5.  Bone Mineral Density in HIV-Negative Men Participating in a Tenofovir Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Randomized Clinical Trial in San Francisco 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23688.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials are evaluating regimens containing tenofovir-disoproxil fumarate (TDF) for HIV prevention. We determined the baseline prevalence of low bone mineral density (BMD) and the effect of TDF on BMD in men who have sex with men (MSM) in a PrEP trial in San Francisco.
We evaluated 1) the prevalence of low BMD using Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) in a baseline cohort of 210 HIV-uninfected MSM who screened for a randomized clinical trial of daily TDF vs. placebo, and 2) the effects of TDF on BMD in a longitudinal cohort of 184 enrolled men. Half began study drug after a 9-month delay to evaluate changes in risk behavior associated with pill-use. At baseline, 20 participants (10%) had low BMD (Z score≤−2.0 at the L2–L4 spine, total hip, or femoral neck). Low BMD was associated with amphetamine (OR = 5.86, 95% CI 1.70–20.20) and inhalant (OR = 4.57, 95% CI 1.32–15.81) use; men taking multivitamins, calcium, or vitamin D were less likely to have low BMD at baseline (OR = 0.26, 95% CI 0.10–0.71). In the longitudinal analysis, there was a 1.1% net decrease in mean BMD in the TDF vs. the pre-treatment/placebo group at the femoral neck (95% CI 0.4–1.9%), 0.8% net decline at the total hip (95% CI 0.3–1.3%), and 0.7% at the L2–L4 spine (95% CI −0.1–1.5%). At 24 months, 13% vs. 6% of participants experienced >5% BMD loss at the femoral neck in the TDF vs. placebo groups (p = 0.13).
Ten percent of HIV-negative MSM had low BMD at baseline. TDF use resulted in a small but statistically significant decline in BMD at the total hip and femoral neck. Larger studies with longer follow-up are needed to determine the trajectory of BMD changes and any association with clinical fractures.
Trial Registration NCT00131677
PMCID: PMC3163584  PMID: 21897852
6.  Cross-Sectional Analysis of Late HAART Initiation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Late Testers and Late Presenters 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20272.
Starting HAART in a very advanced stage of disease is assumed to be the most prevalent form of initiation in HIV-infected subjects in developing countries. Data from Latin America and the Caribbean is still lacking. Our main objective was to determine the frequency, risk factors and trends in time for being late HAART initiator (LHI) in this region.
Cross-sectional analysis from 9817 HIV-infected treatment-naïve patients initiating HAART at 6 sites (Argentina, Chile, Haiti, Honduras, Peru and Mexico) from October 1999 to July 2010. LHI had CD4+ count ≤200cells/mm3 prior to HAART. Late testers (LT) were those LHI who initiated HAART within 6 months of HIV diagnosis. Late presenters (LP) initiated after 6 months of diagnosis. Prevalence, risk factors and trends over time were analyzed.
Principal Findings
Among subjects starting HAART (n = 9817) who had baseline CD4+ available (n = 8515), 76% were LHI: Argentina (56%[95%CI:52–59]), Chile (80%[95%CI:77–82]), Haiti (76%[95%CI:74–77]), Honduras (91%[95%CI:87–94]), Mexico (79%[95%CI:75–83]), Peru (86%[95%CI:84–88]). The proportion of LHI statistically changed over time (except in Honduras) (p≤0.02; Honduras p = 0.7), with a tendency towards lower rates in recent years. Males had increased risk of LHI in Chile, Haiti, Peru, and in the combined site analyses (CSA). Older patients were more likely LHI in Argentina and Peru (OR 1.21 per +10-year of age, 95%CI:1.02–1.45; OR 1.20, 95%CI:1.02–1.43; respectively), but not in CSA (OR 1.07, 95%CI:0.94–1.21). Higher education was associated with decreased risk for LHI in Chile (OR 0.92 per +1-year of education, 95%CI:0.87–0.98) (similar trends in Mexico, Peru, and CSA). LHI with date of HIV-diagnosis available, 55% were LT and 45% LP.
LHI was highly prevalent in CCASAnet sites, mostly due to LT; the main risk factors associated were being male and older age. Earlier HIV-diagnosis and earlier treatment initiation are needed to maximize benefits from HAART in the region.
PMCID: PMC3102699  PMID: 21637802

Results 1-6 (6)