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1.  Intersection of HIV and Reproductive Health 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2013;2013:418918.
PMCID: PMC3857734  PMID: 24349767
2.  The impact of routine cryptococcal antigen screening on survival among HIV-infected individuals with advanced immunosuppression in Kenya 
We hypothesized that a screening and treatment intervention for early cryptococcal infection would improve survival among HIV-infected individuals with low CD4 cell counts.
Newly enrolled patients at Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES) in Kenya with CD4≤100 cells/μl were tested for serum Cryptococcal antigen (sCrAg). Individuals with sCrAg titer≥1:2 were treated with high-dose fluconazole. Cox proportional hazard models of Kaplan-Meier curves were used to compare survival among individuals with CD4≤100 cells/μl in the intervention and historical control groups.
The median age was 34 years [IQR: 29,41], 54% were female, and median CD4 was 43 cells/μl [IQR: 18,71]. Follow-up time was 1224 person-years. In the intervention group 66% (514/782) were tested for sCrAg; of whom 11% (59/514) were sCrAg positive. Mortality was 25% (196/782) in the intervention group and 25% (191/771) in the control group. There was no significant difference between the intervention and control group in overall survival [Hazard Ratio(HR): 1.1 (95%CI:0.9,1.3)] or three-month survival [HR: 1.0 (95%CI:0.8,1.3)]. Within the intervention group, sCrAg positive individuals had borderline lower survival rates than sCrAg negative individuals [HR:1.8 (95%CI: 1.0, 3.0)].
A screening and treatment intervention to identify sCrAg positive individuals and treat them with high-dose fluconazole did not significantly improve overall survival among HIV-infected individuals with CD4 counts≤100 cells/μl as compared to a historical control. Potential explanations include intervention uptake rates or poor efficacy of high-dose oral fluconazole. Future studies to identify the best treatments for early cryptococcal infection and improve uptake of the intervention are critical.
PMCID: PMC3809891  PMID: 23368667
Cryptococcus; screening; prevention; Africa; outcomes; cryptococcal meningitis
3.  Descriptive Characteristics and Health Outcomes of the Food by Prescription Nutrition Supplementation Program for Adults Living with HIV in Nyanza Province, Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91403.
The clinical effects and potential benefits of nutrition supplementation interventions for persons living with HIV remain largely unreported, despite awareness of the multifaceted relationship between HIV infection and nutrition. We therefore examined descriptive characteristics and nutritional outcomes of the Food by Prescription (FBP) nutrition supplementation program in Nyanza Province, Kenya.
Demographic, health, and anthropometric data were gathered from a retrospective cohort of 1,017 non-pregnant adult patients who enrolled into the FBP program at a Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES) site in Nyanza Province between July 2009 and July 2011. Our primary outcome was FBP treatment success defined as attainment of BMI>20, and we used Cox proportional hazards to assess socio-demographic and clinical correlates of FBP treatment success.
Mean body mass index was 16.4 upon enrollment into the FBP program. On average, FBP clients gained 2.01 kg in weight and 0.73 kg/m2 in BMI over follow-up (mean 100 days), with the greatest gains among the most severely undernourished (BMI <16) clients (p<0.001). Only 13.1% of clients attained a BMI>20, though 44.5% achieved a BMI increase ≥0.5. Greater BMI at baseline, younger age, male gender, and not requiring highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) were associated with a higher rate of attainment of BMI>20.
This study reports significant gains in weight and BMI among patients enrolled in the FBP program, though only a minority of patients achieved stated programmatic goals of BMI>20. Future research should include well-designed prospective studies that examine retention, exit reasons, mortality outcomes, and long-term sustainability of nutrition supplementation programs for persons living with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3960130  PMID: 24646586
4.  Contraceptive method and pregnancy incidence among African women in HIV-1 serodiscordant partnerships 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(4):513-518.
Effective contraception reduces unintended pregnancies and is a central strategy to reduce vertical HIV-1 transmission for HIV-1 infected women.
Among 2269 HIV-1 seropositive and 1085 seronegative women from 7 African countries who were members of HIV-1 serodiscordant heterosexual partnerships and who were participating in an HIV-1 prevention clinical trial, we assessed pregnancy incidence for women using various contraceptive methods using multivariate Andersen-Gill analysis.
Compared with women using no contraceptive method, pregnancy incidence was significantly reduced among HIV-1 seropositive and seronegative women using injectable contraception (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 0.24, p=0.001 and aHR 0.25, p<0.001, respectively). Oral contraceptives significantly reduced pregnancy risk only among HIV-1 seropositive women (aHR 0.51, p=0.004) but not seronegative women (aHR 0.64, p=0.3), and, for both seropositive and seronegative women, oral contraceptive pill users were more likely to become pregnant than injectable contraceptive users (aHR 2.22, p=0.01 for HIV-1 seropositive women and aHR 2.65, p=0.09 for HIV-1 seronegative women). Condoms, when reported as being used as the primary contraceptive method, marginally reduced pregnancy incidence (aHR 0.85, p=0.1 for seropositive women and aHR 0.67, p=0.02 for seronegative women). There were no pregnancies among women using intrauterine devices, implantable methods or who had undergone surgical sterilization, although these methods were used relatively infrequently.
Family planning programs and HIV-1 prevention trials need innovative ways to motivate uptake and sustained use of longer acting, less user-dependent contraception for women who do not desire pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3932300  PMID: 22156966
HIV-1; serodiscordant couples; contraception; Africa; women
5.  Associations between genital tract infections, genital tract inflammation and cervical cytobrush HIV-1 DNA in US versus Kenyan women 
Cervical shedding of HIV-1 DNA may influence HIV-1 sexual transmission. HIV-1 DNA was detected in 250/316 (80%) and 207/259 (79%) cervical cytobrush specimens from 56 United States (US) and 80 Kenyan women, respectively. Plasma HIV-1 RNA concentration was associated with increased HIV-1 DNA shedding among US and Kenyan women. Kenyan women had higher cervicovaginal concentrations of pro-inflammatory interleukins (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and anti-inflammatory secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) compared to US women (all p < 0.01). HIV-1 DNA shedding was associated with increased concentrations of IL-1β and IL-6 and lower SLPI among US women, but not Kenyan women.
PMCID: PMC3549039  PMID: 23018377
6.  Direct Questioning Is More Effective Than Patient-Initiated Report for the Detection of Sexually Transmitted Infections in a Primary Care HIV Clinic in Western Kenya 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2013;40(2):158-161.
In resource-limited settings, detection of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) often relies on self-reported symptoms to initiate management. We found self-report demonstrated poor sensitivity for STI detection. Adding clinician-initiated questions about symptoms improved detection rates. Vaginal examination further increased sensitivity. Including clinician-initiated screening in resource-limited settings would improve management of treatable STIs.
PMCID: PMC3644217  PMID: 23324978
7.  Predictors of outcome in routine care for Cryptococcal meningitis in Western Kenya: Lessons for HIV outpatient care in resource-limited settings 
Postgraduate medical journal  2012;89(1048):73-77.
Cryptococcal meningitis is a leading cause of mortality among HIV-infected individuals in sub-Saharan Africa but little is known about its treatment and outcomes in decentralized HIV outpatient settings. We assessed adherence to treatment guidelines and determined predictors of survival.
A computerized laboratory database identified HIV-infected adults with cryptococcal meningitis at Family AIDS Care and Education Services in Nyanza Province, Kenya, between 2005-2009. Medical records were reviewed. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were generated. Bivariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models were used to determine associations between key clinical characteristics and survival.
Medical records were located for 79% (71/90). Mortality was 38% (27/71) over a median follow-up period of 201 days [Inter-quartile range (IQR): 10-705 days]. Adherence to local guidelines for treatment of cryptococcal meningitis was 48% (34/71). Higher BMI was associated with improved survival (HR: 0.82, 95%CI [0.68,0.99]) even after controlling for factors such as age, CD4 cell count, receipt of HAART, and treatment with any anti-fungal therapy.
Cryptococcal meningitis diagnosed in routine HIV outpatient settings is largely treated as an outpatient and adherence to treatment guidelines is poor. BMI is a critical independent predictor of outcome. Additional research to determine the most effect strategies to reduce premature mortality is urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC3722584  PMID: 23112217
Meningitis; Cryptococcal; AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infection; ambulatory care; Kenya; HIV
AIDS care  2012;24(11):1442-1447.
A cluster randomized controlled trial was initiated in Kenya to determine if full integration (FI) of HIV care, including HAART, into antenatal care (ANC) clinics improves health outcomes among HIV-infected women and exposed infants, compared to a non-integrated (NI) model. This paper examines ANC clients’ satisfaction with and preferences regarding HIV-integrated services. In this cross-sectional study, pregnant women attending five FI clinics (n=185) and four NI clinics (n=141) completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire following an ANC visit. By self-report, 55 women (17%) were HIV(+), 230 (71%) were HIV(−) and 40 (12%) did not know their HIV status. Among HIV-infected women, 79% attending FI clinics were very satisfied with their clinic visit compared to 54% of women attending NI clinics (P=0.044); no such difference was found among HIV-uninfected women. In multivariate analysis, overall satisfaction was also independently associated with satisfaction with administrative staff, satisfaction with health care providers, positive evaluation of wait time, and having encountered a receptionist. Full integration of HIV care into antenatal clinics can significantly increase overall satisfaction with care for HIV-infected women, with no significant decrease in satisfaction for HIV-uninfected women served in the same clinics.
PMCID: PMC3495002  PMID: 22296261
patient satisfaction; HIV; antenatal care; service integration; Kenya
9.  Attitudes and beliefs about anti-retroviral therapy are associated with high risk sexual behaviors among the general population of Kisumu, Kenya 
AIDS care  2011;23(12):1668-1675.
Attitudes and beliefs about antiretroviral therapy (ART) may affect sexual risk behaviors among the general population in sub-Saharan Africa. We performed a cross-sectional population-based study in Kisumu, Kenya to test this hypothesis in October 2006. A total of 1655 participants were interviewed regarding attitudes and beliefs about ART and their sexual risk behaviors. The majority of participants, (71%) men and (70%) women, had heard of ART. Of these, 20% of men and 29% of women believed ART cures HIV. Among women, an attitude that “HIV is more controllable now that ART is available” was associated with sex with a non-spousal partner, increased lifetime number of sexual partners as well as a younger age at sexual debut. No significant associations with this factor were found among men. The belief that “ART cures HIV” was associated with younger age of sexual debut among women. The same belief was associated with an increased likelihood of exchanging sex for money/gifts and decreased likelihood of condom use at last sex among men. These findings were most significant for people aged 15–29 years. In high HIV seroprevalence populations with expanding access to ART, prevention programs must ensure their content counteracts misconceptions of ART in order to reduce high risk sexual behaviors, especially among youth.
PMCID: PMC3682819  PMID: 22050441
HIV-1; antiretroviral therapy; highly active; behavioral risk factor surveillance system; high risk sex; Africa; south of the Sahara; factor analysis; statistical
10.  Integration of HIV Care with Primary Health Care Services: Effect on Patient Satisfaction and Stigma in Rural Kenya 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2013;2013:485715.
HIV departments within Kenyan health facilities are usually better staffed and equipped than departments offering non-HIV services. Integration of HIV services into primary care may address this issue of skewed resource allocation. Between 2008 and 2010, we piloted a system of integrating HIV services into primary care in rural Kenya. Before integration, we conducted a survey among returning adults ≥18-year old attending the HIV clinic. We then integrated HIV and primary care services. Three and twelve months after integration, we administered the same questionnaires to a sample of returning adults attending the integrated clinic. Changes in patient responses were assessed using truncated linear regression and logistic regression. At 12 months after integration, respondents were more likely to be satisfied with reception services (adjusted odds ratio, aOR 2.71, 95% CI 1.32–5.56), HIV education (aOR 3.28, 95% CI 1.92–6.83), and wait time (aOR 1.97 95% CI 1.03–3.76). Men's comfort with receiving care at an integrated clinic did not change (aOR = 0.46 95% CI 0.06–3.86). Women were more likely to express discomfort after integration (aOR 3.37 95% CI 1.33–8.52). Integration of HIV services into primary care services was associated with significant increases in patient satisfaction in certain domains, with no negative effect on satisfaction.
PMCID: PMC3664481  PMID: 23738055
11.  Providers' Perspectives on Provision of Family Planning to HIV-Positive Individuals in HIV Care in Nyanza Province, Kenya 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2013;2013:915923.
Objective. To inform an intervention integrating family planning into HIV care, family planning (FP) knowledge, attitudes and practices, and perspectives on integrating FP into HIV care were assessed among healthcare providers in Nyanza Province, Kenya. Methods. Thirty-one mixed-method, structured interviews were conducted among a purposive sample of healthcare workers (HCWs) from 13 government HIV care facilities in Nyanza Province. Structured questions and case scenarios assessed contraceptive knowledge, training, and FP provision experience. Open-ended questions explored perspectives on integration. Data were analyzed descriptively and qualitatively. Results. Of the 31 HCWs interviewed, 45% reported previous FP training. Few providers thought long-acting methods were safe for HIV-positive women (19% viewed depot medroxyprogesterone acetate as safe and 36% viewed implants and intrauterine contraceptives as safe); fewer felt comfortable recommending them to HIV-positive women. Overall, providers supported HIV and family planning integration, yet several potential barriers were identified including misunderstandings about contraceptive safety, gendered power differentials relating to fertility decisions, staff shortages, lack of FP training, and contraceptive shortages. Conclusions. These findings suggest the importance of considering issues such as patient flow, provider burden, commodity supply, gender and cultural issues affecting FP use, and provider training in FP/HIV when designing integrated FP/HIV services in high HIV prevalence areas.
PMCID: PMC3659431  PMID: 23738058
12.  Overcoming Barriers to Family Planning through Integration: Perspectives of HIV-Positive Men in Nyanza Province, Kenya 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2013;2013:861983.
This study explored barriers to and facilitators of using family planning services among HIV-positive men in Nyanza Province, Kenya. From May to June 2010, in-depth interviews were conducted with 30 men receiving care at 15 HIV clinics. The key barriers to the use of family planning included concerns about side effects of contraceptives, lack of knowledge about contraceptive methods, myths and misconceptions including fear of infertility, structural barriers such as staffing shortages at HIV clinics, and a lack of male focus in family planning methods and service delivery. The integration of family planning into HIV clinics including family planning counseling and education was cited as an important strategy to improve family planning receptivity among men. Integrating family planning into HIV services is a promising strategy to facilitate male involvement in family planning. Integration needs to be rigorously evaluated in order to measure its impact on unmet need for contraception among HIV-positive women and their partners and assure that it is implemented in a manner that engages both men and women.
PMCID: PMC3657396  PMID: 23738057
13.  Topical Penile Microbicide Use by Men to Prevent Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis in Sex Partners: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2011;38(6):483-489.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) recurs frequently after metronidazole treatment. This randomized, single-blinded clinical trial (RCT) evaluated the efficacy of topical application of 62% ethyl alcohol in emollient gel (gel) to the penis by male partners of women diagnosed with BV for preventing post-treatment BV recurrence.
Among 587 Kenyan women presenting with vulvovaginal symptoms, 236 had BV (vaginal Gram stain Nugent score ≥ 7), of whom 223 (94.3%) agreed, along with their partners, to be randomized: 115 to the intervention and 108 to the control arm. In the intervention arm, male partners agreed to apply gel each morning, and before and after sexual intercourse. All couples received counseling, condoms, and syndromic treatment of STI symptoms. Follow-up visits were scheduled 1 week, 1 month, and 2 months post-enrollment, with vaginal Gram stains at every visit and culture for H2O2-producing lactobacilli at the 2 month visit. The primary outcome was time to diagnosis of BV during follow-up.
In the primary intent-to-treat analysis, diagnosis of BV was significantly more frequent in the intervention arm (Hazard ratio 1.44, 95% CI 1.01-2.04). After adjustment for baseline covariates, the hazard ratio was 1.39 (95% CI 0.98-1.99). At the 2 month visit, prevalences of any vaginal lactobacilli or of H2O2-producing lactobacilli did not differ appreciably in the two study arms (p=0.81, and 0.32 respectively).
Daily use of the 62% ethyl alcohol gel by men before and after sex significantly increased persistence or early recurrence of BV in their partners through two months after metronidazole treatment. However, no difference was observed in prevalences of vaginal lactobacilli within this same period.
PMCID: PMC3548328  PMID: 22256334
Bacterial vaginosis; recurrence; male factor; Kenya; microbicide
14.  Acceptability and feasibility of integration of HIV care services into antenatal clinics in rural Kenya: A qualitative provider interview study 
Global public health  2011;7(2):149-163.
The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives of healthcare providers on the advantages and disadvantages of integrating HIV care services, including highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), into antenatal care (ANC) clinics in rural Kenya. We conducted a qualitative study using in-depth interviews and thematic analysis; 36 healthcare providers from 6 health centres in Nyanza Province, Kenya participated. Effects on service providers included increased workload due to the incorporation of specialised HIV services into ANC clinics. Providers observed that integration results in decreased patient time spent at the health facility, increased efficiency, and closer provider-patient relationships; all leading to increased patient satisfaction. Providers also said that women would be more likely to receive HAART and adhere to their treatment as a result of improved confidentiality and decreased stigma. However, a minority of providers noted that integration could result in longer appointment times for HIV-positive women at ANC clinics leading to inadvertent disclosure. Integration could lead to strengthened antenatal care, postpartum care, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and HIV care for women and their families. However, integration efforts need to take into account potential negative effects on ANC provider workload, disclosure, and the quality of care.
PMCID: PMC3493571  PMID: 22043837
HIV/AIDS; service integration; health care providers; Africa; PMTCT
15.  Effects of BV-Associated Bacteria and Sexual Intercourse on Vaginal Colonization with the Probiotic Lactobacillus crispatus CTV-05 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2011;38(11):1020-1027.
Several fastidious bacteria have been associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV), but their role in lactobacilli recolonization failure is unknown. We studied the effect of seven BV-associated bacterial species and two Lactobacillus species on vaginal colonization with L. crispatus CTV-05 (LACTIN-V).
Twenty four women with BV were given a 5-day course of metronidazole vaginal gel and then randomized 3:1 to receive either LACTIN-V or placebo applied vaginally once daily for 5 initial consecutive days, followed by a weekly application over 2 weeks. Vaginal swabs for L. crispatus CTV-05 culture and 9-bacterium specific 16S rRNA gene quantitative PCR assays were analyzed on several study visits for the 18 women receiving LACTIN-V.
Vaginal colonization with CTV-05 was achieved in 61% of the participants receiving LACTIN-V at either the day 10 or the 28 visit and 44% at day 28. Participants not colonized with CTV-05 had generally higher median concentrations of BV-associated bacteria compared to those who colonized. Between enrollment and day 28, the median concentration of Gardnerella vaginalis minimally reduced from 104.5 to 104.3 16S rRNA gene copies per swab in women who colonized with CTV-05 but increased from 105.7 to 107.3 in those who failed to colonize (p=0.19). Similarly, the median concentration of Atopobium spp. reduced from 102.7 16S rRNA gene copies per swab to below limit of detection in women who colonized with CTV-05 but increased from 102.7 to 106.6 in those who failed to colonize (p=0.04). The presence of endogenous L. crispatus at enrollment was found to be significantly associated with a reduced odds of colonization with CTV-05 on day 28 (p=0.003) and vaginal intercourse during the study significantly impaired successful CTV-05 colonization (p=0.018).
Vaginal concentration of certain BV-associated bacteria, vaginal intercourse during treatment and presence of endogenous L. crispatus at enrollment predict colonization with probiotic lactobacilli.
PMCID: PMC3193282  PMID: 21992977
Bacterial vaginosis; BV-associated bacteria; Lactobacillus probiotics; Lactobacillus crispatus CTV-05
16.  Diaphragm Used with Replens Gel and Risk of Bacterial Vaginosis: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) has been linked to female HIV acquisition and transmission. We investigated the effect of providing a latex diaphragm with Replens and condoms compared to condom only on BV prevalence among participants enrolled in an HIV prevention trial. Methods. We enrolled HIV-seronegative women and obtained a vaginal swab for diagnosis of BV using Nugent's criteria; women with BV (score 7–10) were compared to those with intermediate (score 4–6) and normal flora (score 0–3). During quarterly follow-up visits over 12–24 months a vaginal Gram stain was obtained. The primary outcome was serial point prevalence of BV during followup. Results. 528 participants were enrolled; 213 (40%) had BV at enrollment. Overall, BV prevalence declined after enrollment in women with BV at baseline (OR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.29–.56) but did not differ by intervention group. In the intention-to-treat analysis BV prevalence did not differ between the intervention and control groups for women who had BV (OR = 1.01, 95% CI 0.52–1.94) or for those who did not have BV (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 0.65–2.27) at enrollment. Only 2.1% of participants were treated for symptomatic BV and few women (5–16%) were reported using anything else but water to cleanse the vagina over the course of the trial. Conclusions. Provision of the diaphragm, Replens, and condoms did not change the risk of BV in comparison to the provision of condoms alone.
PMCID: PMC3485870  PMID: 23133307
17.  Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure: Safety and Tolerability Among Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Positive Kenyan Women 
Obstetrics and gynecology  2011;118(3):554-559.
To estimate the safety, tolerability, and acceptability of loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 2/3) in HIV-positive women performed by non-physician health care providers, in an HIV care and treatment clinic.
We carried out a prospective cohort study among women undergoing LEEP for biopsy-confirmed CIN2/3 at the Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES) clinic in Kisumu, Kenya. Women were followed up 4 weeks after the procedure and questioned for abstinence as well as presence and severity of side effects following the procedure. The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics and univariable and multivariable analysis.
Among the 180 (91%) women who returned for a 4-week follow up after LEEP, 52% reported at least one postprocedure symptom, including bleeding, discharge, or pain. Using a Likert scale for severity of symptoms, 179 (99%) reported “very mild” to mild symptoms, while 1 (n=1%) participant described the symptoms as moderate. No participants reported severe symptoms. Mean CD4+ count was significantly higher among women who reported any symptoms compared to women who reported no symptoms post LEEP (419 cells/mm3 vs. 349 cells/mm3, p < 0.05), an association that remained significant after adjustment for antiretroviral treatment. The presence or severity of postprocedure symptoms did not differ among women who reported sexual activity (16%) less than 4 weeks after the procedure.
LEEP performed by clinical officers was well-accepted by HIV positive women and appears safe, resulting in minimal side effects, even among women with early resumption of intercourse.
PMCID: PMC3160616  PMID: 21860283
18.  The Role of HIV-Related Stigma in Utilization of Skilled Childbirth Services in Rural Kenya: A Prospective Mixed-Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001295.
Janet Turan and colleagues examined the role of the perception of women in rural Kenya of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy on their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Childbirth with a skilled attendant is crucial for preventing maternal mortality and is an important opportunity for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma Study (MAMAS Study) is a prospective mixed-methods investigation conducted in a high HIV prevalence area in rural Kenya, in which we examined the role of women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy in their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Methods and Findings
From 2007–2009, 1,777 pregnant women with unknown HIV status completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire assessing their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal care visit. After the visit, a sub-sample of women was selected for follow-up (all women who tested HIV-positive or were not tested for HIV, and a random sample of HIV-negative women, n = 598); 411 (69%) were located and completed another questionnaire postpartum. Additional qualitative in-depth interviews with community health workers, childbearing women, and family members (n = 48) aided our interpretation of the quantitative findings and highlighted ways in which HIV-related stigma may influence birth decisions. Qualitative data revealed that health facility birth is commonly viewed as most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications, such as HIV. Thus, women delivering at health facilities face the risk of being labeled as HIV-positive in the community. Our quantitative data revealed that women with higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma (specifically those who held negative attitudes about persons living with HIV) at baseline were subsequently less likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant, even after adjusting for other known predictors of health facility delivery (adjusted odds ratio = 0.44, 95% CI 0.22–0.88).
Our findings point to the urgent need for interventions to reduce HIV-related stigma, not only for improving quality of life among persons living with HIV, but also for better health outcomes among all childbearing women and their families.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Every year, nearly 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Almost all these “maternal” deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 500 whereas in industrialized countries it is only 12. Most maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding after childbirth), post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, and blood pressure disorders during pregnancy. All these conditions can be prevented if women have access to adequate reproductive health services and if trained health care workers are present during delivery. Notably, in sub-Saharan Africa, infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) is an increasingly important contributor to maternal mortality. HIV infection causes maternal mortality directly by increasing the occurrence of pregnancy complications and indirectly by increasing the susceptibility of pregnant women to malaria, tuberculosis, and other “opportunistic” infections—HIV-positive individuals are highly susceptible to other infections because HIV destroys the immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although skilled delivery attendants reduce maternal mortality, there are many barriers to their use in developing countries including cost and the need to travel long distances to health facilities. Fears and experiences of HIV-related stigma and discrimination (prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV) may also be a barrier to the use of skilled childbirth service. Maternity services are prime locations for HIV testing and for the provision of interventions for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, so pregnant women know that they will have to “deal with” the issue of HIV when visiting these services. In this prospective mixed-methods study, the researchers examine the role of pregnant women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma in their subsequent use of maternity services in Nyanza Province, Kenya, a region where 16% women aged 15–49 are HIV-positive and where only 44.2% of mothers give birth in a health facility. A mixed-methods study combines qualitative data—how people feel about an issue—with quantitative data—numerical data about outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma (MAMAS) study, pregnant women with unknown HIV status living in rural regions of Nyanza Province answered questions about their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal clinic visit. After delivery, the researchers asked the women who tested HIV positive or were not tested for HIV and a sample of HIV-negative women where they had delivered their baby. They also gathered qualitative information about barriers to maternity and HIV service use by interviewing childbearing women, family members, and community health workers. The qualitative data indicate that labor in a health facility is commonly viewed as being most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications such as HIV infection. Thus, women delivering at health facilities risk being labeled as HIV positive, a label that the community associates with promiscuity. The quantitative data indicate that women with more negative attitudes about HIV-positive people (higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma) at baseline were about half as likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant as women with more positive attitudes about people living with HIV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that HIV-related stigma is associated with the low rate of delivery by skilled attendants in rural areas of Nyanza Province and possibly in other rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Community mobilization efforts aimed at increasing the use of PMTCT services may be partly responsible for the strong perception that delivery in a health facility is most appropriate for women with HIV and other pregnancy complications and may have inadvertently strengthened the perception that women who give birth in such facilities are likely to be HIV positive. The researchers suggest, therefore, that health messages should stress that delivery in a health facility is recommended for all women, not just HIV-positive women or those with pregnancy complications, and that interventions should be introduced to reduce HIV-related stigma. This combined strategy has the potential to increase the use of maternity services by all women and the use of HIV and PMTCT services, thereby reducing some of the most pressing health problems facing women and their children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal mortality, including the WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA/World Bank 2008 country estimates of maternal mortality; a UNICEF special report tells the stories of seven mothers living with HIV in Lesotho
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality (in several languages); the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, are designed to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015
Immpact is a global research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper published by the independent humanitarian medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in March 2012
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on women, HIV and AIDS, on HIV and pregnancy, on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination, and on HIV in Kenya (in English and Spanish); Avert also has personal stories from women living with HIV
The Stigma Action Network (SAN) is a collaborative endeavor that aims to comprehensively coordinate efforts to develop and expand program, research, and advocacy strategies for reducing HIV stigma worldwide, including mobilizing stakeholders, delivering program and policy solutions, and maximizing investments in HIV programs and services globally
The People Living with Stigma Index aims to address stigma relating to HIV and advocate on key barriers and issues perpetuating stigma; it has recently published Piecing it together for women and girls, the gender dimensions of HIV-related stigma
The Health Policy Project has prepared a review of the academic and programmatic literature on stigma and discrimination as barriers to achievement of global goals for maternal health and the elimination of new child HIV infections (see under Resources)
More information on the MAMAS study is available from the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies
PMCID: PMC3424253  PMID: 22927800
19.  Evaluating Safer Conception Options for HIV-Serodiscordant Couples (HIV-Infected Female/HIV-Uninfected Male): A Closer Look at Vaginal Insemination 
HIV serodiscordant couples represent at least half of all HIV-affected couples worldwide. Many of these couples have childbearing desires. Safer methods of conception may allow for pregnancy while minimizing the risk of sexual transmission of HIV. In serodiscordant partnerships with an HIV-infected female and HIV-uninfected male, vaginal insemination of a partner's semen during the fertile period coupled with 100% condom use may be the safest method of conception.
PMCID: PMC3423871  PMID: 22927714
20.  Building capacity for cervical cancer screening in outpatient HIV clinics in the Nyanza province of western Kenya 
To evaluate outcomes of cervical cancer screening within HIV care and treatment clinics in Kenya.
Beginning in October 2007, visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), colposcopy, and loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) were added to the clinical services offered at Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES) clinics in Kisumu, Kenya, after a systematic campaign to build capacity and community awareness.
From October 2007 to October 2010, 3642 women underwent VIA as part of routine HIV care. Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2/3 was identified in 259 (7.1%) women, who were offered excisional treatment by LEEP in the clinic. Among those women offered screening, uptake was 87%. Clinical staff reported a high level of satisfaction with training for and implementation of cervical cancer screening strategies.
Cervical cancer screening and prevention are feasible, acceptable, and effective within HIV care and treatment clinics. Screening test performance characteristics need to be defined for an HIV-positive population to determine the cost/benefit ratio of lower cost strategies that will ultimately be necessary to provide universal access to cervical cancer screening in low-resource settings.
PMCID: PMC3133829  PMID: 21620403
Cervical cancer screening; HIV; Kenya; Resource-limited setting
21.  Bacterial Vaginosis Associated with Increased Risk of Female-to-Male HIV-1 Transmission: A Prospective Cohort Analysis among African Couples 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001251.
In a prospective study, Craig Cohen and colleagues investigate the association between bacterial vaginosis and the risk of female-to-male HIV-1 transmission.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the normal vaginal flora, has been associated with a 60% increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition in women and higher concentration of HIV-1 RNA in the genital tract of HIV-1–infected women. However, whether BV, which is present in up to half of African HIV-1–infected women, is associated with an increase in HIV-1 transmission to male partners has not been assessed in previous studies.
Methods and Findings
We assessed the association between BV on female-to-male HIV-1 transmission risk in a prospective study of 2,236 HIV-1–seropositive women and their HIV-1 uninfected male partners from seven African countries from a randomized placebo-controlled trial that enrolled heterosexual African adults who were seropositive for both HIV-1 and herpes simplex virus (HSV)-2, and their HIV-1–seronegative partners. Participants were followed for up to 24 months; every three months, vaginal swabs were obtained from female partners for Gram stain and male partners were tested for HIV-1. BV and normal vaginal flora were defined as a Nugent score of 7–10 and 0–3, respectively. To reduce misclassification, HIV-1 sequence analysis of viruses from seroconverters and their partners was performed to determine linkage of HIV-1 transmissions. Overall, 50 incident HIV-1 infections occurred in men in which the HIV-1–infected female partner had an evaluable vaginal Gram stain. HIV-1 incidence in men whose HIV-1–infected female partners had BV was 2.91 versus 0.76 per 100 person-years in men whose female partners had normal vaginal flora (hazard ratio 3.62, 95% CI 1.74–7.52). After controlling for sociodemographic factors, sexual behavior, male circumcision, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and plasma HIV-1 RNA levels in female partners, BV was associated with a greater than 3-fold increased risk of female-to-male HIV-1 transmission (adjusted hazard ratio 3.17, 95% CI 1.37–7.33).
This study identified an association between BV and increased risk of HIV-1 transmission to male partners. Several limitations may affect the generalizability of our results including: all participants underwent couples HIV counseling and testing and enrolled in an HIV-1 prevention trial, and index participants had a baseline CD4 count ≥250 cells/mm3 and were HSV-2 seropositive. Given the high prevalence of BV and the association of BV with increased risk of both female HIV-1 acquisition and transmission found in our study, if this association proves to be causal, BV could be responsible for a substantial proportion of new HIV-1 infections in Africa. Normalization of vaginal flora in HIV-1–infected women could mitigate female-to-male HIV-1 transmission.
Trial Registration: NCT00194519
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Since the first reported case of AIDS in 1981, the number of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has risen steadily. By the end of 2010, 34 million people were living with HIV/AIDS. At the beginning of the epidemic more men than women were infected with HIV. Now, however, 50% of all adults infected with HIV are women and in sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of HIV-positive people live, women account for 59% of people living with HIV. Moreover, among 15–24 year-olds, women are eight times more likely than men to be HIV-positive. This pattern of infection has developed because most people in sub-Saharan Africa contract HIV through unprotected heterosexual sex. The risk of HIV transmission for both men and women in Africa and elsewhere can be reduced by abstaining from sex, by only having one or a few partners, by always using condoms, and by male circumcision. In addition, several studies suggest that antiretroviral therapy (ART) greatly reduces HIV transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, in sub-Saharan Africa, only about a fifth of HIV-positive people are currently receiving ART, which means that there is an urgent need to find other effective ways to reduce HIV transmission in this region. In this prospective cohort study (a type of study that follows a group of people for some time to see which personal characteristics are associated with disease development), the researchers investigate whether bacterial vaginosis—a condition in which harmful bacteria disrupt the normal vaginal flora—increases the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission among African couples. Bacterial vaginosis, which is extremely common in sub-Saharan Africa, has been associated with an increased risk of HIV acquisition in women and induces viral replication and shedding in the vagina in HIV-positive women, which may mean that HIV-positive women with bacterial vaginosis are more likely to transmit HIV to their male partners than women without this condition. If this is the case, then interventions that reduce the incidence of bacterial vaginosis might be valuable HIV prevention strategies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected from 2,236 heterosexual African couples enrolled in a clinical trial (the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study) whose primary aim was to investigate whether suppression of herpes simplex virus infection could prevent HIV transmission. In all the couples, the woman was HIV-positive and the man was initially HIV-negative. The female partners were examined every three months for the presence of bacterial vaginosis and the male partners were tested regularly for HIV infection. The researchers also determined whether the men who became HIV-positive were infected with the same HIV strain as their partner to check that their infection had been acquired from this partner. The HIV incidence in men whose partners had bacterial vaginosis was 2.9 per 100 person-years (that is, 2.9 out of every 100 men became HIV-positive per year) whereas the HIV incidence in men whose partners had a normal vaginal flora was 0.76 per 100 person-years. After controlling for factors that might affect the risk of HIV transmission such as male circumcision and viral levels in female partner's blood, the researchers estimated that bacterial vaginosis was associated with a 3.17-fold increased risk of female-to-male HIV transmission in their study population.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that HIV-positive African women with bacterial vaginosis are more than three times as likely to transmit HIV to their male partners as those with a normal vaginal flora. It is possible that some unknown characteristic of the men in this study might have increased both their own risk of HIV infection and their partner's risk of bacterial vaginosis. Nevertheless, because bacterial vaginosis is so common in Africa (half of the women in this study had bacterial vaginosis at least once during follow-up) and because this condition is associated with both female HIV acquisition and transmission, these findings suggest that bacterial vaginosis could be responsible for a substantial proportion of new HIV infections in Africa. Normalization of vaginal flora in HIV-infected women by frequent presumptive treatment with antimicrobials (treatment with a curative dose of antibiotics without testing for bacterial vaginosis) or possibly by treatment with probiotics (live “good” bacteria) might, therefore, reduce female-to-male HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS and on bacterial vaginosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including specific information about HIV/AIDS and women; it also has information on bacterial vaginosis (in English and Spanish)
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and information on bacterial vaginosis and HIV transmission (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS nonprofit group on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV and AIDS prevention, on women, HIV and AIDS and on HIV/AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available; the website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV
More information about the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study is available
PMCID: PMC3383741  PMID: 22745608
22.  Medical pluralism on Mfangano Island: Use of medicinal plants among persons living with HIV/AIDS in Suba District, Kenya 
Journal of ethnopharmacology  2011;135(2):501-509.
Ethnopharmacological relevance
Given the increasing coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS treatment as well as the high utilization of herbal medicine, many persons living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are thought to practice medical pluralism, or the adoption of more than one medical system for their care and treatment. Using a cross-sectional study we sought to document and identify the herbal medicines used by persons living with HIV/AIDS on Mfangano Island, Suba District, Nyanza Province, Kenya.
Materials and Methods
We interviewed herbalists and knowledgeable mothers to obtain information regarding medicinal plants, particularly for HIV/AIDS-related symptoms, HIV/AIDS, and chira (an illness concept with similarities to HIV/AIDS regarding sexual transmission and wasting symptoms). Using systematic sampling, 67 persons living with HIV/AIDS (49 of whom were receiving ART) were selected from an Mfangano Island health clinic and participated in semi-structured interviews.
Interviews with herbalists and mothers identified 40 plant species in 37 genera and 29 families that a person with HIV/AIDS or chira could use for herbal remedies. Overall, 70.1% of persons living with HIV/AIDS had used medicinal plants after HIV diagnosis, most commonly to treat symptoms related to HIV/AIDS. In addition to common vegetables and fruits that can serve medicinal purposes, Azadirachta indica A.Juss. (Meliaceae), Carissa edulis (Forssk.) Vahl (Apocynaceae), and Ximenia americana L. (Olacaceae) were the most frequently cited medicinal plants used by persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Collaboration and communication between biomedical clinicians and herbalists should be encouraged given high rates of concomitant ART-herb usage. Pharmacological, toxicological, and ART-herb interaction studies based on the plants identified in this study and their constituent ingredients should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3103819  PMID: 21458556
Medicinal plants; Herbal medicine; Herbalists; Traditional remedies; Ethnobotany; HIV/AIDS; Suba; Luo; Nyanza Province; Kenya; Africa
23.  Towards Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV: The Impact of a Rapid Results Initiative in Nyanza Province, Kenya 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2012;2012:602120.
Many HIV-positive pregnant women and infants are still not receiving optimal services, preventing the goal of eliminating mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) and improving maternal child health overall. A Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) approach was utilized to address key challenges in delivery of prevention of MTCT (PMTCT) services including highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) uptake for women and infants. The RRI was conducted between April and June 2011 at 119 health facilities in five districts in Nyanza Province, Kenya. Aggregated site-level data were compared at baseline before the RRI (Oct 2010–Jan 2011), during the RRI, and post-RRI (Jul–Sep 2011) using pre-post cohort analysis. HAART uptake amongst all HIV-positive pregnant women increased by 40% (RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2–1.7) and continued to improve post-RRI (RR 1.6, 95% CI 1.4–1.8). HAART uptake in HIV-positive infants remained stable (RR 1.1, 95% CI 0.9–1.4) during the RRI and improved by 30% (RR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0–1.6) post-RRI. Significant improvement in PMTCT services can be achieved through introduction of an RRI, which appears to lead to sustained benefits for pregnant HIV-infected women and their infants.
PMCID: PMC3324880  PMID: 22548155
24.  Lessons Learned Developing a Diagnostic Tool for HIV-Associated Dementia Feasible to Implement in Resource-Limited Settings: Pilot Testing in Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32898.
To conduct a preliminary evaluation of the utility and reliability of a diagnostic tool for HIV-associated dementia (HAD) for use by primary health care workers (HCW) which would be feasible to implement in resource-limited settings.
In resource-limited settings, HAD is an indication for anti-retroviral therapy regardless of CD4 T-cell count. Anti-retroviral therapy, the treatment for HAD, is now increasingly available in resource-limited settings. Nonetheless, HAD remains under-diagnosed likely because of limited clinical expertise and availability of diagnostic tests. Thus, a simple diagnostic tool which is practical to implement in resource-limited settings is an urgent need.
A convenience sample of 30 HIV-infected outpatients was enrolled in Western Kenya. We assessed the sensitivity and specificity of a diagnostic tool for HAD as administered by a primary HCW. This was compared to an expert clinical assessment which included examination by a physician, neuropsychological testing, and in selected cases, brain imaging. Agreement between HCW and an expert examiner on certain tool components was measured using Kappa statistic.
The sample was 57% male, mean age was 38.6 years, mean CD4 T-cell count was 323 cells/µL, and 54% had less than a secondary school education. Six (20%) of the subjects were diagnosed with HAD by expert clinical assessment. The diagnostic tool was 63% sensitive and 67% specific for HAD. Agreement between HCW and expert examiners was poor for many individual items of the diagnostic tool (K = .03–.65). This diagnostic tool had moderate sensitivity and specificity for HAD. However, reliability was poor, suggesting that substantial training and formal evaluations of training adequacy will be critical to enable HCW to reliably administer a brief diagnostic tool for HAD.
PMCID: PMC3296754  PMID: 22412945
25.  Endometrial Histopathology in Patients with Laparoscopic Proven Salpingitis and HIV-1 Infection 
Study Objective. To identify sensitive and specific histological criteria for endometritis in women with laparoscopically-confirmed acute salpingitis. Methods. Women, age 18–40 years of age presenting with complaints of lower abdominal pain ≤2 weeks and no antibiotics use in past two weeks, were enrolled. They underwent clinical examination, screening for HIV; other sexually transmitted infections plus endometrial biopsy sampling for histopathology. Diagnostic laparoscopy confirmed the diagnosis of acute salpingitis. Controls were women undergoing tubal ligation and HIV-1 infected women asymptomatic for genital tract infection. Results. Of 125 women with laparoscopically-confirmed salpingitis, 38% were HIV-1 seropositive. Nineteen HIV-1 negative controls were recruited. For the diagnosis of endometritis, ≥1 plasma cells (PC) and ≥3 polymorphonuclear lymphocytes (PMN) per HPF in the endometrium had a sensitivity of 74% for HIV-1-seropositive, 63% for HIV-1-seronegative women with a specificity of 75% and positive predictive value of 85% regardless of HIV-1-infection for predicting moderate to severe salpingitis. For HIV-1-seronegative women with mild salpingitis, ≥1 PC and ≥3 PMN had a sensitivity of 16% and a PPV of 57%. Conclusion. Endometrial histology, did not perform well as a surrogate marker for moderate to severe salpingitis, and failed as a surrogate marker for mild salpingitis.
PMCID: PMC3177090  PMID: 21941427

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