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1.  Nondisclosure of HIV Status in a Clinical Trial Setting: Antiretroviral Drug Screening Can Help Distinguish Between Newly Diagnosed and Previously Diagnosed HIV Infection 
In The HIV Prevention Trials Network 061 study, 155 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected men reported no prior HIV diagnosis; 83 of those men had HIV RNA levels of <1000 copies/mL at enrollment. Antiretroviral drug testing revealed that 65 of the 83 (78.3%) men were on antiretroviral treatment. Antiretroviral drug testing can help distinguish between newly diagnosed and previously diagnosed HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3864502  PMID: 24092804
HIV; antiretroviral; self-report; MSM; new diagnosis
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
3.  Engaging, Recruiting, and Retaining Black Men Who Have Sex With Men in Research Studies: Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Staffing—Lessons Learned From HPTN 061, the BROTHERS Study 
HIV/AIDS in the United States continues to primarily impact men who have sex with men (MSM), with disproportionately high rates among black MSM.
The purpose of this study was to identify factors that may influence engagement and retention of black MSM in HIV research.
Design and Participants
This was a qualitative evaluation of study implementation within a multisite, prospective, observational study (HIV Prevention Trials Network 061, BROTHERS) that enrolled 1553 black MSM in 6 cities throughout the United States. Data collection for this evaluation included a written, structured survey collected from each of the sites describing site characteristics including staff and organizational structure, reviews of site standard operating procedures, and work plans; semistructured key informant interviews were conducted with site coordinators to characterize staffing, site-level factors facilitating or impeding effective community engagement, study recruitment, and retention. Data from completed surveys and site standard operating procedures were collated, and notes from key informant interviews were thematically coded for content by 2 independent reviewers.
Several key themes emerged from the data, including the importance of inclusion of members of the community being studied as staff, institutional hiring practices that support inclusive staffing, cultivating a supportive working environment for study implementation, and ongoing relationships between research institutions and community.
This study underscores the importance of staffing in implementing research with black MSM. Investigators should consider how staffing and organizational structures affect implementation during study design and when preparing to initiate study activities. Ongoing monitoring of community engagement can inform and improve methods for engagement and ensure cultural relevance while removing barriers for participation.
PMCID: PMC4167976  PMID: 24406940
black MSM; community; HIV/AIDS prevention; recruitment; retention
4.  Linking and Retaining HIV Patients in Care: The Importance of Provider Attitudes and Behaviors 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(5):297-303.
Retention in HIV treatment may reduce morbidity and mortality, as well as slow the epidemic. Myriad barriers to retention include stigma, homophobia, structural barriers, transportation, and insurance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate patient perceptions of provider attitudes among HIV-infected persons within a state-wide public hospital system in Louisiana. A convenience sample of patients attending HIV clinics throughout the state participated in an anonymous interview. Factors associated with negative perceptions of care were evaluated in conjunction with a validated stigma measure. Factors associated with having a delayed entry into or break in care were evaluated in conjunction with perceived stigma. Between 2/1/09 and 7/31/11, 479 participants were interviewed and had sufficient data available, of whom 53.4% were male, 79.3% were African American, and 29.4% reported a break or delayed entry into HIV care of >1 year. A break in care was associated with perceiving that the doctor or health professionals do not listen carefully most or all of the time (p<0.01), having an elevated stigma score (p<0.05), and indicating that providers dislike caring for HIV-infected people (p<0.01). Women were more likely to have an elevated stigma score than men (p<0.01), as were participants over 30 (p<0.01); those with a gay/bisexual orientation (p<0.05) were less likely to have an elevated stigma score. Those with a break in care were less likely to have Medicaid (p<0.05). Providers play a key role in the retention of HIV-infected persons in care and are critical to improving outcomes and slowing the epidemic. Development of novel approaches to reduce stigma are imperative in improving retention.
PMCID: PMC3651678  PMID: 23651107
5.  Differing HIV Risks and Prevention Needs among Men and Women Injection Drug Users (IDU) in the District of Columbia 
Washington, DC has among the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the US. Gender differences among injection drug users (IDUs) may be associated with adoption of prevention opportunities including needle exchange programs, HIV testing, psychosocial support, and prevention programming. National HIV Behavioral Surveillance data on current IDUs aged ≥18 were collected from 8/09 to 11/09 via respondent-driven sampling in Washington, DC. HIV status was assessed using oral OraQuick with Western Blot confirmation. Weighted estimates were derived using RDSAT. Stata was used to characterize the sample and differences between male and female IDU, using uni-, bi-, and multivariable methods. Factors associated with HIV risk differed between men and women. Men were more likely than women to have had a history of incarceration (86.6 % vs. 66.8 %, p < 0.01). Women were more likely than men to have depressive symptoms (73.9 % vs. 47.4 %, p < 0.01), to have been physically or emotionally abused (66.1 % vs. 16.1 %, p < 0.0001), to report childhood sexual abuse (42.7 % vs. 4.7 %, p < 0.0001), and pressured or forced to have sex (62.8 % vs. 4.0 %, p < 0.0001); each of these differences was significant in the multivariable analysis. Despite a decreasing HIV/AIDS epidemic among IDU, there remain significant gender differences with women experiencing multiple threats to psychosocial health, which may in turn affect HIV testing, access, care, and drug use. Diverging needs by gender are critical to consider when implementing HIV prevention strategies.
PMCID: PMC3579300  PMID: 22692841
HIV/AIDS; Behavioral surveillance; Gender; IDU; HIV/AIDS prevention
6.  Concomitant Socioeconomic, Behavioral, and Biological Factors Associated with the Disproportionate HIV Infection Burden among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in 6 U.S. Cities 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87298.
American Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV, but the factors associated with this concentrated epidemic are not fully understood.
Black MSM were enrolled in 6 US cities to evaluate a multi-component prevention intervention, with the current analysis focusing on the correlates of being newly diagnosed with HIV compared to being HIV-uninfected or previously diagnosed with HIV.
HPTN 061 enrolled 1553 Black MSM whose median age was 40; 30% self-identified exclusively as gay or homosexual, 29% exclusively as bisexual, and 3% as transgender. About 1/6th (16.2%) were previously diagnosed with HIV (PD); of 1263 participants without a prior HIV diagnosis 7.6% were newly diagnosed (ND). Compared to PD, ND Black MSM were younger (p<0.001); less likely to be living with a primary partner (p<0.001); more likely to be diagnosed with syphilis (p<0.001), rectal gonorrhea (p = 0.011) or chlamydia (p = 0.020). Compared to HIV-uninfected Black MSM, ND were more likely to report unprotected receptive anal intercourse (URAI) with a male partner in the last 6 months (p<0.001); and to be diagnosed with syphilis (p<0.001), rectal gonorrhea (p = 0.004), and urethral (p = 0.025) or rectal chlamydia (p<0.001). They were less likely to report female (p = 0.002) or transgender partners (p = 0.018). Multivariate logistic regression analyses found that ND Black MSM were significantly more likely than HIV-uninfected peers to be unemployed; have STIs, and engage in URAI. Almost half the men in each group were poor, had depressive symptoms, and expressed internalized homophobia.
ND HIV-infected Black MSM were more likely to be unemployed, have bacterial STIs and engage in URAI than other Black MSM. Culturally-tailored programs that address economic disenfranchisement, increase engagement in care, screen for STIs, in conjunction with safer sex prevention interventions, may help to decrease further transmission in this heavily affected community.
PMCID: PMC3909083  PMID: 24498067
7.  Correlates of HIV Acquisition in a Cohort of Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in the United States: HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 061 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70413.
Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States (US) are affected by HIV at disproportionate rates compared to MSM of other race/ethnicities. Current HIV incidence estimates in this group are needed to appropriately target prevention efforts.
From July 2009 to October 2010, Black MSM reporting unprotected anal intercourse with a man in the past six months were enrolled and followed for one year in six US cities for a feasibility study of a multi-component intervention to reduce HIV infection. HIV incidence based on HIV seroconversion was calculated as number of events/100 person-years. Multivariate proportional hazards modeling with time-dependent covariates was used to identify correlates of HIV acquisition.
Of 1,553 Black MSM enrolled, 1,164 were HIV-uninfected at baseline and included in follow-up. Overall annual HIV incidence was 3.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.0, 4.4%) and 5.9% among men ≤30 years old (95% CI: 3.6, 9.1%). Men ≤30 years old reported significantly higher levels of sexual risk and were more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection diagnosed during follow-up. Younger men also were more likely to not have a usual place for health care, not have visited a health care provider recently, and to have unmet health care needs. In multivariate analysis, age ≤30 years (hazard ratio (HR): 3.4; 95% CI: 1.4, 8.3) and unprotected receptive anal intercourse with HIV-positive or unknown status partners (HR: 4.1; 95% CI: 1.9, 9.1) were significantly associated with HIV acquisition.
In the largest cohort of prospectively-followed Black MSM in the US, HIV incidence was high, particularly among young men. Targeted, tailored and culturally appropriate HIV prevention strategies incorporating behavioral, social and biomedical based interventions are urgently needed to lower these rates.
PMCID: PMC3724810  PMID: 23922989
8.  Implementing a Novel Citywide Rapid HIV Testing Campaign in Washington, D.C.: Findings and Lessons Learned 
Public Health Reports  2012;127(4):422-431.
In June 2006, the District of Columbia (DC) Department of Health launched a citywide rapid HIV screening campaign. Goals included raising HIV awareness, routinizing rapid HIV screening, identifying previously unrecognized infections, and linking positives to care. We describe findings from this seminal campaign and identify lessons learned.
We applied a mixed-methods approach using quantitative analysis of client data forms (CDFs) and qualitative evaluation of focus groups with DC residents. We measured characteristics and factors associated with client demographics, test results, and community perceptions regarding the campaign.
Data were available on 38,586 participants tested from July 2006 to September 2007. Of those, 68% had previously tested for HIV (44% within the last 12 months) and 23% would not have sought testing had it not been offered. Overall, 662 (1.7%) participants screened positive on the OraQuick® Advance™ rapid HIV test, with non-Hispanic black people, transgenders, and first-time testers being significantly more likely to screen positive for HIV than white people, males, and those tested within the last year, respectively. Of those screening positive for HIV, 47% had documented referrals for HIV care and treatment services. Focus groups reported continued stigma regarding HIV and minimal community saturation of the campaign.
This widespread campaign tested thousands of people and identified hundreds of HIV-infected individuals; however, referrals to care were lower than anticipated, and awareness of the campaign was limited. Lessons learned through this scale-up of population-based HIV screening resulted in establishing citywide HIV testing processes that laid the foundation for the implementation of test-and-treat activities in DC.
PMCID: PMC3366296  PMID: 22753985
9.  Adverse Respiratory Symptoms and Environmental Exposures Among Children and Adolescents Following Hurricane Katrina 
Public Health Reports  2011;126(6):853-860.
Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to environmental exposures and their respiratory effects. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, residents experienced multiple adverse environmental exposures. We characterized the association between upper respiratory symptoms (URS) and lower respiratory symptoms (LRS) and environmental exposures among children and adolescents affected by Hurricane Katrina.
We conducted a cross-sectional study following the return of the population to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (October 2005 and February 2006) among a convenience sample of children and adolescents attending New Orleans health facilities. We used uni-, bi-, and multivariable analyses to describe participants, exposures, and associations with URS/LRS.
Of 1,243 participants, 47% were Caucasian, 50% were male, and 72% were younger than 11 years of age. Multiple environmental exposures were identified during and after the storm and at current residences: roof/glass/storm damage (50%), outside mold (22%), dust (18%), and flood damage (15%). Self-reported URS and LRS (76% and 36%, respectively) were higher after the hurricane than before the hurricane (22% and 9%, respectively, p<0.0001). Roof/glass/storm damage at home was associated with URS (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.15, 2.21) and LRS (AOR=1.35, 95% CI 1.01, 1.80), while mold growth at home was associated with LRS (AOR=1.47, 95% CI 1.02, 2.12).
Children and adolescents affected by Hurricane Katrina experienced environmental exposures associated with increased prevalence of reported URS and LRS. Additional research is needed to investigate the long-term health impacts of Hurricane Katrina.
PMCID: PMC3185321  PMID: 22043101
10.  Implementation of an innovative, integrated electronic medical record (EMR) and public health information exchange for HIV/AIDS 
Louisiana is severely affected by HIV/AIDS, ranking fifth in AIDS rates in the USA. The Louisiana Public Health Information Exchange (LaPHIE) is a novel, secure bi-directional public health information exchange, linking statewide public health surveillance data with electronic medical record data. LaPHIE alerts medical providers when individuals with HIV/AIDS who have not received HIV care for >12 months are seen at any ambulatory or inpatient facility in an integrated delivery network. Between 2/1/2009 and 1/31/2011, 488 alerts identified 345 HIV positive patients. Of those identified, 82% had at least one CD4 or HIV viral load test over the study follow-up period. LaPHIE is an innovative use of health information exchange based on surveillance data and real time clinical messaging, facilitating rapid provider notification of those in need of treatment. LaPHIE successfully reduces critical missed opportunities to intervene with individuals not in care, leveraging information historically collected solely for public health purposes, not health care delivery, to improve public health.
PMCID: PMC3341789  PMID: 22037891
Public health informatics; clinical decision support; health information technology; HIV; access to healthcare
11.  Another look at Emergency Department HIV screening in practice: no need to revise expectations 
A recent study reported a lower than expected specificity and positive predictive value of the rapid oral HIV test in the setting of routine emergency department (ED) screening. These results appeared inconsistent with the findings in another urban Emergency Department during the same time period.
To compare the specificity and positive predictive vale (PPV) of an oral rapid HIV test used in an ED screening program in Washington DC with that performed in the USHER clinical trial.
Period cross-sectional analysis of rapid oral HIV testing conducted in an ongoing HIV screening program emergency department patients.
The George Washington University Emergency Department (Washington DC) from 7 February to 1 October 2007.
1,560 adults seen in the ED for non-HIV-related presenting complaints, who participated in the HIV screening program.
Rapid HIV testing with the OraQuick ADVANCE Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test (OraSure Technologies, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania). Patients with reactive rapid test results were offered Western blot testing for confirmation.
Specificity and positive predictive value for the program were determined. Findings were compared to those found in the USHER trial.
Of 1,560 patients screened for HIV, 13 [0.8%, 95% CI 0.38% to 1.28%] had a reactive HIV screening test, and all were confirmed to be positive by Western Blot. The specificity was 100% (95% CI 99.6%-100%).
Since non-reactive tests were not confirmed, the test sensitivity cannot be determined.
Review of our data conflict with findings from the USHER study surrounding false positive OraQuick HIV screening. Our data suggest that rapid HIV screening protocols implemented in EDs outside of the clinical trial paradigm perform effectively without an excess of false positive results. Compared with other screening tests, HIV rapid screening should remain an essential component of ED practice.
PMCID: PMC2821359  PMID: 20051116

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