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author:("romano, Anne")
1.  Prevalence and correlates of knowledge of male partner HIV testing and serostatus among African-American women living in high poverty, high HIV prevalence communities (HPTN 064) 
AIDS and behavior  2015;19(2):291-301.
Knowledge of sexual partners' HIV infection can reduce risky sexual behaviors. Yet, there are no published studies to-date examining prevalence and characteristics associated with knowledge among African-American women living in high poverty communities disproportionately affected by HIV. Using the HIV Prevention Trial Network's (HPTN) 064 Study data, multivariable logistic regression was used to examine individual, partner, and partnership-level determinants of women's knowledge (n=1,768 women). Results showed that women's demographic characteristics alone did not account for the variation in serostatus awareness. Rather, lower knowledge of partner serostatus was associated with having two or more sex partners (OR=0.49, 95%CI: 0.37-0.65), food insecurity (OR=0.68, 95%CI: 0.49-0.94), partner age>35 (OR=0.68, 95%CI: 0.49-0.94), and partner concurrency (OR=0.63, 95%CI: 0.49-0.83). Access to financial support (OR=1.42, 95%CI: 1.05-1.92) and coresidence (OR=1.43, 95%CI: 1.05-1.95) were associated with higher knowledge of partner serostatus. HIV prevention efforts addressing African-American women's vulnerabilities should employ integrated behavioral, economic, and empowerment approaches.
PMCID: PMC4344379  PMID: 25160901
knowledge; male sexual partner; HIV; serostatus; African-American women
2.  Antiretroviral Drug Use in a Cohort of HIV-Uninfected Women in the United States: HIV Prevention Trials Network 064 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140074.
Antiretroviral (ARV) drug use was analyzed in HIV-uninfected women in an observational cohort study conducted in 10 urban and periurban communities in the United States with high rates of poverty and HIV infection. Plasma samples collected in 2009–2010 were tested for the presence of 16 ARV drugs. ARV drugs were detected in samples from 39 (2%) of 1,806 participants: 27/181 (15%) in Baltimore, MD and 12/179 (7%) in Bronx, NY. The ARV drugs detected included different combinations of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors (1–4 drugs/sample). These data were analyzed in the context of self-reported data on ARV drug use. None of the 39 women who had ARV drugs detected reported ARV drug use at any study visit. Further research is needed to evaluate ARV drug use by HIV-uninfected individuals.
PMCID: PMC4596522  PMID: 26445283
3.  Self-administered sample collection for screening of sexually transmitted infection among reservation-based American Indian youth 
American Indians suffer a disproportionate burden of sexually transmitted infection, particularly adolescents. Screening access barriers in rural and reservation-based communities necessitate alternatives to clinic-based options.
Self-administered screening for three sexually transmitted infections was piloted among 32 American Indian adolescents aged 18 to 19. Participants self-collected in a private location; specimens were processed by trained, American Indian paraprofessionals and analysis was conducted by an outside laboratory. Participants testing positive were treated by a Public Health Nurse from the Indian Health Service.
Results suggest high overall acceptability: 69% preferred a self-administered method over clinic-based screening, 75% would encourage their friends to use this method and 100% would use it again.
A self-administered screening method has the ability to reach this and other high-risk populations that might not otherwise access screening, with added potential within the Indian Health Services system for uptake and dissemination in rural, reservation communities facing significant screening barriers.
PMCID: PMC4382450  PMID: 25228666
Chlamydia; gonorrhea; North America; screening; trichomoniasis; American Indians
4.  Substance Use Patterns and Factors Associated with Changes Over Time in a Cohort of Heterosexual Women At Risk for HIV Acquisition in the United States 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2014;139:93-99.
Substance use is associated with HIV sexual risk behaviors, yet few studies have examined substance use patterns longitudinally. We evaluated the types and frequency of substances used over a six-month period among U.S. women at risk for HIV acquisition.
Women reporting unprotected sex with a man in the previous six months and at least one other personal or partner HIV risk characteristic enrolled in a multisite cohort study and completed interviews about substance use at study visits. Prevalence and frequency of substance use at the baseline and six-month visits were compared and correlates of decreased substance use at the six-month visit were assessed.
Of 2,099 women enrolled, 1,882 had substance use data at baseline and six-months. Of these, 76.1% reported using at least one drug or binge drinking in the previous six months; 37.5% were frequent and 38.6% non-frequent substance users. Binge drinking was most frequently reported (63.3%), followed by cocaine (25.0%) and opioids (16.5%). Fifty-five percent of opiate users and 30% of cocaine users reported daily/almost daily use. At the six-month visit, 40.5% reported a decrease in frequency of use. Adjusting for income and type of drug used, poly-substance users were less likely to decrease frequency of use compared to those who only used one substance.
A substantial decrease in frequency of substance use over time was observed in this cohort. Poly-substance users were less likely to reduce frequency of use over time, suggesting that specific substance use interventions targeting these users are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4104540  PMID: 24698079
women; substance use; opiate use; cocaine use; binge drinking; HIV
5.  Venue-Based Recruitment of Women at Elevated Risk for HIV: An HIV Prevention Trials Network Study 
Journal of Women's Health  2014;23(6):541-551.
Background: The challenge of identifying and recruiting U.S. women at elevated risk for HIV acquisition impedes prevention studies and services. HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 064 was a U.S. multisite, longitudinal cohort study designed to estimate HIV incidence among women living in communities with prevalent HIV and poverty. Venue-based sampling (VBS) methodologies and participant and venue characteristics are described.
Methods: Eligible women were recruited from 10 U.S. communities with prevalent HIV and poverty using VBS. Participant eligibility criteria included age 18–44 years, residing in a designated census tract/zip code, and self-report of at least one high-risk personal and/or male sexual partner characteristic associated with HIV acquisition (e.g., incarceration history). Ethnography was conducted to finalize recruitment areas and venues.
Results: Eight thousand twenty-nine women were screened and 2,099 women were enrolled (88% black, median age 29 years) over 14 months. The majority of participants were recruited from outdoor venues (58%), retail spaces (18%), and social service organizations (13%). The proportion of women recruited per venue category varied by site. Most participants (73%) had both individual and partner characteristics that qualified them for the study; 14% were eligible based on partner risk only.
Conclusion: VBS is a feasible and effective approach to rapidly recruit a population of women at enhanced risk for HIV in the United States. Such a recruitment approach is needed in order to engage women most at risk and requires strong community engagement.
PMCID: PMC4046355  PMID: 24742266
6.  Retention Strategies and Factors Associated with Missed Visits Among Low Income Women at Increased Risk of HIV Acquisition in the US (HPTN 064) 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2014;28(4):206-217.
Women at high-risk for HIV acquisition often face challenges that hinder their retention in HIV prevention trials. These same challenges may contribute to missed clinical care visits among HIV-infected women. This article, informed by the Gelberg-Andersen Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations, identifies factors associated with missed study visits and describes the multifaceted retention strategies used by study sites. HPTN 064 was a multisite, longitudinal HIV seroincidence study in 10 US communities. Eligible women were aged 18–44 years, resided in a census tract/zipcode with high poverty and HIV prevalence, and self-reported ≥1 personal or sex partner behavior related to HIV acquisition. Multivariate analyses of predisposing (e.g., substance use) and enabling (e.g., unmet health care needs) characteristics, and study attributes (i.e., recruitment venue, time of enrollment) identified factors associated with missed study visits. Retention strategies included: community engagement; interpersonal relationship building; reduction of external barriers; staff capacity building; and external tracing. Visit completion was 93% and 94% at 6 and 12 months. Unstable housing and later date of enrollment were associated with increased likelihood of missed study visits. Black race, recruitment from an outdoor venue, and financial responsibility for children were associated with greater likelihood of attendance. Multifaceted retention strategies may reduce missed study visits. Knowledge of factors associated with missed visits may help to focus efforts.
PMCID: PMC3985524  PMID: 24697160
We examined parameters of sexual partnerships, including respondents’ participation in concurrency, belief that their partner had concurrent partnerships (partners’ concurrency), and partnership intervals, among the 2,099 women in HIV Prevention Trials Network 064, a study of women at high risk for HIV infection, in ten US communities.
We analyzed baseline survey responses about partnership dates to determine prevalence of participants’ and partners’ concurrency, intervals between partnerships, knowledge of whether recent partner(s) had undergone HIV testing, and intercourse frequency during the preceding 6 months.
Prevalence of participants’ and partners’ concurrency was 40% and 36% respectively; 24% of respondents had both concurrent partnerships and non-monogamous partners. Among women with >1 partner and no concurrent partnerships themselves, the median gap between partners was one month. Multiple episodes of unprotected vaginal intercourse with >2 of their most recent partners was reported by 60% of women who had both concurrent partnerships and non-monogamous partners, 50% with only concurrent partners and no partners’ concurrency, and 33% with only partners’ concurrency versus 14% of women with neither type of concurrency (p<.0001). Women who had any involvement with concurrency were also more likely than women with no concurrency involvement to report lack of awareness of whether recent partners had undergone HIV testing (participants’ concurrency 41%, partners’ concurrency 40%, both participants’ and partners’ concurrency 48%, neither 17%; p<.0001).
These network patterns and short gaps between partnerships may create substantial opportunities for HIV transmission in this sample of women at high risk for HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC4172374  PMID: 24056163
8.  Point-of-care tests for sexually transmissible infections: what do ‘end users’ want? 
Sexual health  2013;10(6):541-545.
Clinicians and developers identify sensitivity as an important quality in a point-of-care test (POCT) for sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Little information exists regarding what patients want for STI POCTs.
A qualitative study, encompassing five focus groups among attendees of STI and adolescent health centres in Baltimore, Maryland, and Cincinnati, Ohio, were conducted between March 2008 and April 2009. Discussion topics included advantages and disadvantages of having a POCT, perceived barriers to using POCTs in the clinic setting and at home, priorities for the development of new POCTs for STIs, and envisioned characteristics of an ideal POCT. All discussions were recorded and transcribed. A qualitative content analysis was performed to examine frequencies or patterns of recurring codes, which were regrouped and indexed to identify salient themes.
Patients attending STI and adolescent outpatient clinics are in favour of diagnostic tests that are rapid, easy to read and simple to use. Home testing options for POCTs were acceptable and provided better confidentiality, privacy and convenience, but clinic-based POCTs were also acceptable because they offer definitive results and ensure immediate treatment. Barriers to home POCTs centred on cost and the ability to read and perform the test correctly at home. Opinions did not differ by patient ethnicity, except that Hispanic participants questioned the reliability of home test results, wanted high sensitivity and desired bilingual instructions.
Patients attending STI and adolescent medical centres are in favour of STI POCTs if they are affordable, rapid, easy to read and simple to use.
PMCID: PMC4061493  PMID: 24160838
acceptability; clinic-based test; diagnostics; home-based test
9.  Dense Genotyping of Immune-Related Loci Identifies Variants Associated with Clearance of HPV among HIV-Positive Women in the HIV Epidemiology Research Study (HERS) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99109.
Persistent high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) is a necessary and causal factor of cervical cancer. Most women naturally clear HPV infections; however, the biological mechanisms related to HPV pathogenesis have not been clearly elucidated. Host genetic factors that specifically regulate immune response could play an important role. All HIV-positive women in the HIV Epidemiology Research Study (HERS) with a HR-HPV infection and at least one follow-up biannual visit were included in the study. Cervicovaginal lavage samples were tested for HPV using type-specific HPV hybridization assays. Type-specific HPV clearance was defined as two consecutive HPV-negative tests after a positive test. DNA from participants was genotyped for 196,524 variants within 186 known immune related loci using the custom ImmunoChip microarray. To assess the influence of each single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) with HR-HPV clearance, the Cox proportional hazards model with the Wei-Lin-Weissfeld approach was used, adjusting for CD4+ count, low risk HPV (LR-HPV) co-infection, and relevant confounders. Three analytical models were performed: race-specific (African Americans (n = 258), European Americans (n = 87), Hispanics (n = 55), race-adjusted combined analysis, and meta-analysis of pooled independent race-specific analyses. Women were followed for a median time of 1,617 days. Overall, three SNPs (rs1112085, rs11102637, and rs12030900) in the MAGI-3 gene and one SNP (rs8031627) in the SMAD3 gene were associated with HR-HPV clearance (p<10−6). A variant (rs1633038) in HLA-G were also significantly associated in African American. Results from this study support associations of immune-related genes, having potential biological mechanism, with differential cervical HR-HPV infection outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4053382  PMID: 24918582
10.  HIV Acquisition Among Women From Selected Areas of the United States 
Annals of internal medicine  2013;158(1):10-18.
Women account for 23% of newly diagnosed HIV infections in the United States, but there are few recent, well-characterized cohorts of U.S. women in whom behavior characteristics and HIV acquisition have been well-described.
To evaluate HIV incidence and describe behaviors among U.S. women residing in areas of high HIV prevalence.
Multisite, longitudinal cohort of women who had HIV rapid testing and audio computer-assisted self-interviews at baseline and every 6 months for up to 12 months. ( NCT00995176)
10 urban and periurban communities with high HIV prevalence and poverty rates, located in the northeastern and southeastern United States.
Venue-based sampling was used to recruit women aged 18 to 44 years who recently had unprotected sex and had 1 or more additional personal or partner risk factors and no self-reported previous HIV diagnosis.
HIV prevalence and incidence, frequency of HIV risk behaviors, and health status perceptions.
Among 2099 high-risk women (85.9% black and 11.7% of Hispanic ethnicity), 32 (1.5%) were diagnosed with HIV infection at enrollment. Annual HIV incidence was 0.32% (95% CI, 0.14% to 0.74%). Older age, substance use, and knowing a partner had HIV were associated with HIV prevalence. Ten women died during the study (0.61% per year).
Longitudinal assessment of risk behaviors was limited to a maximum of 12 months. There were few incident HIV infections, precluding identification of characteristics predictive of HIV acquisition.
This study enrolled a cohort of women with HIV incidence substantially higher than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national estimate in the general population of U.S. black women. Concerted efforts to improve preventive health care strategies for HIV and overall health status are needed for similar populations.
PMCID: PMC4033695  PMID: 23277896
Human immunology  2011;72(4):312-318.
Populations of African ancestry continue to account for a disproportionate burden of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) epidemic in the US. We investigated the effects of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I markers in association with virologic and immunologic control of HIV-1 infection among 338 HIV-1 subtype B-infected African Americans in two cohorts: REACH (Reaching for Excellence in Adolescent Care and Health) and HERS (HIV Epidemiology Research Study). One-year treatment-free interval measurements of HIV-1 RNA viral loads and CD4+ T-cells were examined both separately and combined to represent three categories of HIV-1 disease control (76 “controllers,” 169 “intermediates,” and 93 “non-controllers”). Certain previously or newly implicated HLA class I alleles (A*32, A*36, A*74, B*14, B*1510, B*3501, B*45, B*53, B*57, Cw*04, Cw*08, Cw*12, and Cw*18) were associated with one or more of the endpoints in univariate analyses. After multivariable adjustments for other genetic and non-genetic risk factors of HIV-1 progression, the subset of alleles more strongly or consistently associated with HIV-1 disease control included A*32, A*74, B*14, B*45, B*53, B*57, and Cw*08. Carriage of infrequent HLA-B but not HLA-A alleles was associated with more favorable disease outcomes. Certain HLA class I associations with control of HIV-1 infection span the boundaries of race and viral subtype; while others appear confined within one or the other of those boundaries.
PMCID: PMC3778654  PMID: 21262311
HLA class I; Allele frequency; HIV-1 control; African American
13.  The Value of Clinical Needs Assessments for Point-of-Care Diagnostics 
Point of care  2012;11(2):108-113.
Most entrepreneurial ventures fail long before the core technology can be brought to the marketplace because of disconnects in performance and usability measures such as accuracy, cost, complexity, assay stability, and time requirements between technology developers’ specifications and needs of the end-users. By going through a clinical needs assessment (CNA) process, developers will gain vital information and a clear focus that will help minimize the risks associated with the development of new technologies available for use within the health care system.
This article summarizes best practices of the principal investigators of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering point-of-care (POC) centers within the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering POC Technologies Research Network. Clinical needs assessments are particularly important for product development areas that do not sufficiently benefit from traditional market research, such as grant-funded research and development, new product lines using cutting-edge technologies developed in start-up companies, and products developed through product development partnerships for low-resource settings. The objectives of this article were to (1) highlight the importance of CNAs for development of POC devices, (2) discuss methods applied by POC Technologies Research Network for assessing clinical needs, and (3) provide a road map for future CNAs.
PMCID: PMC3737000  PMID: 23935405
user needs assessment; brain trauma; sexually transmitted infections; disaster medicine; global health
14.  Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma genitalium, and Trichomonas vaginalis Infections in Men With Nongonococcal Urethritis: Predictors and Persistence After Therapy 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(3):357-365.
Background. Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Mycoplasma genitalium (MG), and Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) associated with nongonococcal urethritis (NGU). We assessed their predictors and persistence after treatment.
Methods. We analyzed data from an NGU treatment trial among symptomatic heterosexual men aged 16–45 years from STI clinics. Nucleic acid amplification tests detected CT, MG, and TV at baseline and at 1 and 4 weeks after therapy. Associations between variables and STI detection were investigated.
Results. Among 293 participants, 44% had CT, 31% had MG, and 13% had TV at baseline. In multivariate analysis, CT infection was associated with young age and STI contact. Young age was also associated with MG, and having ≥1 new partner was negatively associated with TV. We detected persistent CT in 12% and MG in 44% of participants at 4 weeks after therapy, which were associated with signs and symptoms of NGU. Persistent CT was detected in 23% of participants after azithromycin treatment vs 5% after doxycycline treatment (P = .011); persistent MG was detected in 68% of participants after doxycycline vs 33% after azithromycin (P = .001). All but 1 TV infection cleared after tinidazole.
Conclusions. Persistent CT and MG after treatment of NGU are common, and were associated with clinical findings and drug regimen.
PMCID: PMC3490700  PMID: 22615318
15.  Perceptions on Point-of-Care Tests for Sexually Transmitted Infections – Comparison between Frontline Clinicians and Professionals in Industry 
Point of care  2012;11(2):126-129.
To determine if a gap exists between sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinicians and industry professionals regarding perceptions of the ideal types and characteristics of STI point-of-care tests (POCTs).
Our online survey design contained sections on demographics; barriers of use for available STI POCTs; characteristics of an ideal POCT, including prioritizing pathogens for targets; and “building your own POCT”. Practicing clinicians and academic experts from two venues, STI-related international conference attendees and U.S. STD clinic clinicians, were invited to participate in the clinician survey. Professionals from industry in the STI diagnostic field were invited to participate in the industry survey. Chi-square test and conditional logistical regression were used for data analysis.
Clinician survey participants (n=218) identified “the time frame required” (39.9%), “complexity” (31.2%), and “interruption of work flow” (30.3%) as the top three barriers making it difficult to use STI POCTs, while the industry survey participants (n=107) identified “complexity” (65.4%), “unreliability” (53.3%), and “difficulty in reading results” (34.6%) as the top three barriers (all p values <0.05). Sensitivity was always the most important attribute to be considered for a new STI POCT by both participant groups. Participants of the clinician group chose cost as the second priority attribute, while those of the industry group chose specificity as the second priority.
We identified differences in the perceptions regarding barriers and ideal attributes for STI POCTs between frontline clinical providers and industry personnel. Tailored training is warranted to inform scientists, biomedical engineers, and other industry experts about characteristics that clinicians desire for STI POCTs.
PMCID: PMC3404836  PMID: 22844231
point-of-care test; sexually transmitted infections; perceptions; discrete choice experiment
16.  Minding the Gap: An approach to determine critical drivers in the development of Point of Care diagnostics 
Point of care  2012;11(2):130-139.
A point of care test (POCT) for Chlamydia trachomatis detection is an urgent public health need. Technology advances in diagnostics have made solutions possible. Yet no reliable POCT exist. Our goal was to address the gap between chlamydia POCT needs and successful POCT development by determining which characteristics of POCT tests are most critical and if any flexibility in the attributes assigned those characteristics exist between technology developer and end user.
We employed a process known as WALEX (Warfare Analysis Laboratory Exercise) in combination with Design of Experiment (DOE) methodology using discrete choice experiments (DCE), to describe the attributes of the most realistic, rather than the most ideal POCT. The WALEX was conducted as interactive oral and simultaneous electronic discussion among experts with differing expertise, but linked by a common interest in development of a chlamydia POCT.
Our studies demonstrated which features of the ideal chlamydia POCT were considered critical to test acceptance by users and which were open to negotiation. In particular, end users were more lenient on the requirement for the fastest ideal test and the lowest one time instrument costs, if the requirement for higher throughput, lowest cost and vaginal sample source collection were preserved. DOE methods used in forced choice question design provided confirmation of opinions derived from oral and electronic WALEX comments
The WALEX in combination with DCE helped us achieve our goal in identifying the gaps in the chlamydia POCT and determining the most realistic solutions to bridge those gaps.
PMCID: PMC3423323  PMID: 22919287
Point of Care Test; sexually transmitted infection; chlamydia trachomatis; Design of Experiments; Discrete Choice Experiment
17.  Lack of Association of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Seropositivity With the Progression of HIV Infection in the HERS Cohort 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;173(7):837-844.
Many studies have chronicled the “epidemiologic synergy” between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HIV adversely affects the natural history of HSV-2 and results in more frequent and severe HSV-2 reactivation. Few longitudinal studies, however, have examined whether HSV-2 is associated with increased HIV plasma viral loads or decreased CD4 counts. The authors estimated the effect of HSV-2 seropositivity on HIV RNA viral load and on CD4 count over time among 777 HIV-seropositive US women not receiving suppressive HSV-2 therapy in the HIV Epidemiology Research Study (1993–2000). Linear mixed models were used to assess the effect of HSV-2 on log HIV viral load and CD4 count/mm3 prior to widespread initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Coinfection with HSV-2 was not associated with HIV RNA plasma viral loads during study follow-up. There was a statistically significant association between HSV-2 seropositivity and CD4 count over time, but this difference was small and counterintuitive at an increase of 8 cells/mm3 (95% confidence interval: 2, 14) per year among HSV-2-seropositive women compared with HSV-2-seronegative women. These data do not support a clinically meaningful effect of baseline HSV-2 seropositivity on the trajectories of HIV plasma viral loads or CD4 counts.
PMCID: PMC3105280  PMID: 21372062
CD4 lymphocyte count; herpes simplex; herpesvirus 2, human; HIV; viral load
18.  Preventing sexually transmitted infections: back to basics 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(12):4580-4583.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have plagued humans for millennia and can result in chronic disease, pregnancy complications, infertility, and even death. Recent technological advances have led to a better understanding of the causative agents for these infections as well as aspects of their pathogenesis that might represent novel therapeutic targets. The articles in this Review Series provide excellent updates on the recent advances in understanding of the pathogenesis of some very important and persistent STIs and discuss the importance of considering each pathogen in the broader context of the environment of the individual who it infects.
PMCID: PMC3226012  PMID: 22133882
19.  Association between Semen Exposure and Incident Bacterial Vaginosis 
Objective. To identify correlates of incident bacterial vaginosis (BV) diagnosed with Nugent scoring among high-risk women. Study Design. We conducted both cohort and case-crossover analyses, stratified by HIV infection status, based on 871 HIV-infected and 439 HIV-uninfected participants in the HIV Epidemiology Research Study, conducted in 4 US sites in 1993–2000. Results. BV incidence was 21% and 19% among HIV-infected and -uninfected women, respectively. Fewer correlates of BV were found with case-crossover than with cohort design. Reporting frequent coitus (regardless of consistency of condom use) was correlated with BV in cohort analyses but not in case-crossover analyses. The sole correlate of BV in both types of analyses was the detection of spermatozoa on Gram stain, which is a marker of semen exposure. Conclusion. The inconsistent association between condom use and BV in prior studies could be from reporting bias. We found evidence of a relationship between semen exposure and incident BV.
PMCID: PMC3235572  PMID: 22190844
20.  What has Changed about Vaginal Douching among African American Mothers and Daughters? 
To explore African American mothers’ and daughters’ practices and influences related to vaginal douching.
Design and Sample
Our overall study used a sequential mixed-method design with 3 phases. Phase 1, the focus of this report, used grounded theory methods and in-depth, semistructured individual interviews. Two generations of African American girls and women: 24 girls (“daughters”) aged 14–18 and 17 women (“mothers” or “mother figures”) aged 22–43, recruited from 1 adolescent health clinic in Baltimore, MD.
In-depth interviews were taped and transcribed and data analysis used the constant comparison method.
Daughters were much less likely to douche or to have been exposed to douching information than mothers. Many mothers and daughters were influenced by health care providers and/or family members to not initiate, to decrease, or to stop douching. Women who currently douche often do so because of the perception of improved smell and cleanliness around menstruation and sexual intercourse.
These data indicate that although some women continue to believe that vaginal douching has therapeutic value, others have been influenced to stop or not start douching by family and health care providers. Health care providers should continue efforts to educate patients on the risks of vaginal douching.
PMCID: PMC3012353  PMID: 20840711
African Americans; vaginal douching; women’s health
21.  Bacterial Vaginosis and the Natural History of Human Papillomavirus 
Objective. To evaluate associations between common vaginal infections and human papillomavirus (HPV). Study Design. Data from up to 15 visits on 756 HIV-infected women and 380 high-risk HIV-uninfected women enrolled in the HIV Epidemiology Research Study (HERS) were evaluated for associations of bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and vaginal Candida colonization with prevalent HPV, incident HPV, and clearance of HPV in multivariate analysis. Results. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) was associated with increased odds for prevalent (aOR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.26) and incident (aOR = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.47) HPV and with delayed clearance of infection (aHR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.72, 0.97). Whereas BV at the preceding or current visit was associated with incident HPV, in an alternate model for the outcome of incident BV, HPV at the current, but not preceding, visit was associated with incident BV. Conclusion. These findings underscore the importance of prevention and successful treatment of bacterial vaginosis.
PMCID: PMC3159014  PMID: 21869857
22.  Enhanced Molecular Typing of Treponema pallidum: Geographical Distribution of Strain Types and Association with Neurosyphilis 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2010;202(9):1380-1388.
Strain typing is a tool for determining diversity and epidemiology of infections.
T. pallidum DNA was isolated from 158 syphilis patients from the US, China, Ireland, and Madagascar and from 15 T. pallidum isolates. Six typing targets were assessed: 1) number of 60 bp repeats in acidic repeat protein gene; 2) restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of T. pallidum repeat (tpr) subfamily II genes; 3) RFLP analysis of tprC gene; 4) determination of tprD allele in tprD gene locus; 5) presence of 51 bp insertion between tp0126/tp0127; 6) sequence analysis of 84 bp region of tp0548. The combination of #1 and #2 comprises the CDC T. pallidum subtyping method.
Adding sequence analysis of tp0548 to the CDC method yielded the most discriminating typing system. Twenty-four strain types were identified and designated as CDC subtype/tp0548 sequence. Type 14d/f was seen in 5 of 6 locations. In Seattle, strain types changed from 1999– 2008 (p<0.001). Twenty-two (50%) of 44 patients infected with type 14d/f had neurosyphilis compared to 9 (23%) of 39 infected with the other types combined (p=0.01).
We describe an enhanced T. pallidum strain typing system that shows biological and clinical relevance.
PMCID: PMC3114648  PMID: 20868271
syphilis; molecular typing; neurosyphilis; Treponema pallidum
23.  What Qualities Are Most Important to Making a Point of Care Test Desirable for Clinicians and Others Offering Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing? 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19263.
To investigate the possible effects of different levels of attributes of a point-of-care test (POCT) on sexually transmitted infection (STI) professionals' decisions regarding an ideal POCT for STI(s).
An online survey was designed based on a large-scale in-depth focus discussion study among STI experts and professionals. The last section of the survey “build your own POCT” was designed by employing the discrete choice experiment approach. Practicing clinicians from two venues, STI-related international conference attendees and U.S. STD clinic clinicians were invited to participate in the survey. Conditional logistical regression modeling was used for data analysis.
Overall, 256 subjects took the online survey with 218 (85%) completing it. Most of the participants were STD clinic clinicians who already used some POCTs in their practice. “The time frame required” was identified as a major barrier that currently made it difficult to use STI POCTs. Chlamydia trachomatis was the organism chosen as the top priority for a new POCT, followed by a test that would diagnose early seroconversion for HIV, and a syphilis POCT. Without regard to organism type selected, sensitivity of 90–99% was always the most important attribute to be considered, followed by a cost of $20. However, when the test platform was prioritized for early HIV seroconversion or syphilis, sensitivity was still ranked as most important, but specificity was rated second most important.
STI professionals preferred C. trachomatis as the top priority for a new POCT with sensitivity over 90%, low cost, and a very short completion time.
PMCID: PMC3084795  PMID: 21559435
24.  Perceptions of an Ideal Point-of-Care Test for Sexually Transmitted Infections – A Qualitative Study of Focus Group Discussions with Medical Providers 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e14144.
A point-of-care test (POCT) for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which offers immediate diagnosis resulting in patients receiving diagnosis and treatment in a single visit, has the ability to address some of the STI control needs. However, needs assessment from STI experts and end users about currently available STI POCTs and their future new development has not been evaluated since World Health Organization Sexually Transmitted Diseases Diagnostics Initiative was formed over 15 years ago. Therefore, our objective was to explore the perceptions of the ideal types of STI POCT for use in health care settings.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A qualitative study, encompassing eight focus groups, was conducted from March 2008 through April 2009. Participants included 6 STD clinic directors, 63 clinicians, and 7 public health/laboratory/epidemiology professionals in the STI field. Discussion topics included currently available POCT, perceived barriers to using POCT in clinics, priority STI for the development of new POCT, and characteristics of the ideal POCT. All discussions were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Themes raised as barriers for current POCT included complexity, long time frames of the so-called “rapid” test, multiple time-driven steps, requiring laboratory technician, difficulty in reading result, interruption of workflow, unreliability, and invasiveness. Chlamydia trachomatis was identified as the priority organism for development of a new STI POCT. Themes indicated for the ideal POCT included rapid turnaround (up to 20 minutes), ease of use, non-invasive, accurate (preferred sensitivity and specificity in the range of high 90s), Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-waived, user-friendly (for both patients and staff), compact, durable, and sturdy.
Focus group discussions with STI experts and professionals highlighted chlamydia as the top priority pathogen for POCT development, and identified the qualities of new POCT for STIs. Participants endorsed ease of use, rapid turnaround and high accuracy as essential characteristics of an ideal POCT.
PMCID: PMC2994750  PMID: 21152386
25.  Human Leukocyte Antigen Class I Supertypes and HIV-1 Control in African Americans▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;84(5):2610-2617.
The role of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I supertypes in controlling human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection in African Americans has not been established. We examined the effects of the HLA-A and HLA-B alleles and supertypes on the outcomes of HIV-1 clade B infection among 338 African American women and adolescents. HLA-B58 and -B62 supertypes (B58s and B62s) were associated with favorable HIV-1 disease control (proportional odds ratio [POR] of 0.33 and 95% confidence interval [95% CI] of 0.21 to 0.52 for the former and POR of 0.26 and 95% CI of 0.09 to 0.73 for the latter); B7s and B44s were associated with unfavorable disease control (POR of 2.39 and 95% CI of 1.54 to 3.73 for the former and POR of 1.63 and 95% CI of 1.08 to 2.47 for the latter). In general, individual alleles within specific B supertypes exerted relatively homogeneous effects. A notable exception was B27s, whose protective influence (POR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.35 to 0.94) was masked by the opposing effect of its member allele B*1510. The associations of most B supertypes (e.g., B58s and B7s) were largely explained either by well-known effects of constituent B alleles or by effects of previously unimplicated B alleles aggregated into a particular supertype (e.g., B44s and B62s). A higher frequency of HLA-B genotypic supertypes correlated with a higher mean viral load (VL) and lower mean CD4 count (Pearson's r = 0.63 and 0.62, respectively; P = 0.03). Among the genotypic supertypes, B58s and its member allele B*57 contributed disproportionately to the explainable VL variation. The study demonstrated the dominant role of HLA-B supertypes in HIV-1 clade B-infected African Americans and further dissected the contributions of individual class I alleles and their population frequencies to the supertype effects.
PMCID: PMC2820922  PMID: 20032191

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