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2.  HIV Incidence Determination in the United States: A Multiassay Approach 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(2):232-239.
Background. Accurate testing algorithms are needed for estimating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) incidence from cross-sectional surveys.
Methods. We developed a multiassay algorithm (MAA) for HIV incidence that includes the BED capture enzyme immunoassay (BED-CEIA), an antibody avidity assay, HIV load, and CD4+ T-cell count. We analyzed 1782 samples from 709 individuals in the United States who had a known duration of HIV infection (range, 0 to >8 years). Logistic regression with cubic splines was used to compare the performance of the MAA to the BED-CEIA and to determine the window period of the MAA. We compared the annual incidence estimated with the MAA to the annual incidence based on HIV seroconversion in a longitudinal cohort.
Results. The MAA had a window period of 141 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 94–150) and a very low false-recent misclassification rate (only 0.4% of 1474 samples from subjects infected for >1 year were misclassified as indicative of recent infection). In a cohort study, annual incidence based on HIV seroconversion was 1.04% (95% CI, .70%–1.55%). The incidence estimate obtained using the MAA was essentially identical: 0.97% (95% CI, .51%–1.71%).
Conclusions. The MAA is as sensitive for detecting recent HIV infection as the BED-CEIA and has a very low rate of false-recent misclassification. It provides a powerful tool for cross-sectional HIV incidence determination.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis659
PMCID: PMC3532826  PMID: 23129760
HIV; incidence testing; United States; epidemiology
3.  Performance of a Limiting-Antigen Avidity Enzyme Immunoassay for Cross-Sectional Estimation of HIV Incidence in the United States 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82772.
Background
A limiting antigen avidity enzyme immunoassay (HIV-1 LAg-Avidity assay) was recently developed for cross-sectional HIV incidence estimation. We evaluated the performance of the LAg-Avidity assay alone and in multi-assay algorithms (MAAs) that included other biomarkers.
Methods and Findings
Performance of testing algorithms was evaluated using 2,282 samples from individuals in the United States collected 1 month to >8 years after HIV seroconversion. The capacity of selected testing algorithms to accurately estimate incidence was evaluated in three longitudinal cohorts. When used in a single-assay format, the LAg-Avidity assay classified some individuals infected >5 years as assay positive and failed to provide reliable incidence estimates in cohorts that included individuals with long-term infections. We evaluated >500,000 testing algorithms, that included the LAg-Avidity assay alone and MAAs with other biomarkers (BED capture immunoassay [BED-CEIA], BioRad-Avidity assay, HIV viral load, CD4 cell count), varying the assays and assay cutoffs. We identified an optimized 2-assay MAA that included the LAg-Avidity and BioRad-Avidity assays, and an optimized 4-assay MAA that included those assays, as well as HIV viral load and CD4 cell count. The two optimized MAAs classified all 845 samples from individuals infected >5 years as MAA negative and estimated incidence within a year of sample collection. These two MAAs produced incidence estimates that were consistent with those from longitudinal follow-up of cohorts. A comparison of the laboratory assay costs of the MAAs was also performed, and we found that the costs associated with the optimal two assay MAA were substantially less than with the four assay MAA.
Conclusions
The LAg-Avidity assay did not perform well in a single-assay format, regardless of the assay cutoff. MAAs that include the LAg-Avidity and BioRad-Avidity assays, with or without viral load and CD4 cell count, provide accurate incidence estimates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082772
PMCID: PMC3873916  PMID: 24386116
4.  Sensitivity Changes over the Course of Infection Increases the Likelihood of Resistance Against Fusion but Not CCR5 Receptor Blockers 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(12):1584-1593.
Abstract
As HIV-1 evolves over the course of infection, resistance against antiretrovirals may arise in the absence of drug pressure, especially against receptor and fusion blockers because of the extensive changes observed in the envelope glycoprotein. Here we show that viruses from the chronic phase of disease are significantly less sensitive to CCR5 receptor and fusion blockers compared to early infection variants. Differences in susceptibility to CCR5 antagonists were observed in spite of no demonstrable CXCR4 receptor utilization. No significant sensitivity differences were observed to another entry blocker, soluble CD4, or to reverse transcriptase, protease, or integrase inhibitors. Chronic as compared to early phase variants demonstrated greater replication when passaged in the presence of subinhibitory concentrations of fusion but not CCR5 receptor inhibitors. Fusion antagonist resistance, however, emerged from only one chronic phase virus culture. Because sensitivity to receptor and fusion antagonists is correlated with receptor affinity and fusion capacity, respectively, changes that occur in the envelope glycoprotein over the course of infection confer greater ability to use the CCR5 receptor and increased fusion ability. Our in vitro passage studies suggest that these evolving phenotypes increase the likelihood of resistance against fusion but not CCR5 receptor blockers.
doi:10.1089/aid.2011.0319
PMCID: PMC3505054  PMID: 22650962
5.  Relationship of Liver Disease Stage and Antiviral Therapy With Liver-Related Events and Death in Adults Coinfected With HIV/HCV 
JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association  2012;308(4):10.1001/jama.2012.7844.
Context
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) accelerates hepatitis C virus (HCV) disease progression; however, the effect of liver disease stage and antiviral therapy on the risk of clinical outcomes is incompletely understood.
Objective
To determine the incidence of end-stage liver disease (ESLD), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or death according to baseline hepatic fibrosis and antiviral treatment for HIV/HCV coinfected individuals.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Prospective cohort of 638 coinfected adults (80% black, 66% men) receiving care at the Johns Hopkins HIV clinic and receiving a liver biopsy and who were prospectively monitored for clinical events between July 1993 and August 2011 (median follow-up, 5.82 years; interquartile range, 3.42–8.85 years). Histological specimens were scored for hepatic fibrosis stage according to the METAVIR scoring system.
Main Outcome Measure
Incidence of composite outcome of ESLD, HCC, or death.
Results
Patients experienced a graded increased risk in incidence of clinical outcomes based on baseline hepatic fibrosis stage (classification range, F0-F4): F0, 23.63 (95% CI, 16.80–33.24); F1, 36.33 (95% CI, 28.03–47.10); F2, 53.40 (95% CI, 33.65–84.76); F3, 56.14 (95% CI, 31.09–101.38); and F4, 79.43 (95% CI, 55.86–112.95) per 1000 person-years (P<.001). In multivariable negative binomial regression, fibrosis stages F2 through F4 and antiretroviral therapy were independently associated with composite ESLD, HCC, or all-cause mortality after adjustment for demographic characteristics, injection drug use, and CD4 cell count. Compared with F0, the incidence rate ratio (RR) for F2 was 2.31 (95% CI, 1.23–4.34; P=.009); F3, 3.18 (95% CI, 1.47–6.88; P=.003); and F4, 3.57 (95% CI, 2.06–6.19; P<.001). Human immunodeficiency virus treatment was associated with fewer clinical events (incidence RR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.19–0.38; P<.001). For the 226 patients who underwent HCV treatment, the incidence of clinical events did not significantly differ between treatment nonresponders and untreated patients (incidence RR, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.86–1.86; P=.23). In contrast, no events were observed in the 51 patients with sustained virologic response (n= 36) and relapse (n= 15), including 19 with significant fibrosis.
Conclusion
In this cohort of patients with HIV/HCV coinfection, hepatic fibrosis stage was independently associated with a composite outcome of ESLD, HCC, or death.
doi:10.1001/jama.2012.7844
PMCID: PMC3807214  PMID: 22820790
6.  Longitudinal changes in engagement in care and viral suppression for HIV-infected injection drug users 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(16):2559-2566.
Objective
To examine temporal trends and predictors of linkage to HIV care, longitudinal retention in care and viral suppression among injection drug users (IDUs) infected with HIV.
Design
Community-based, prospective cohort study
Methods
We prospectively studied 790 HIV-infected IDUs participating in the AIDS Linked to the Intravenous Experience (ALIVE) study from 1998 through 2011. IDUs were considered linked to care if they attended any HIV care visit during follow-up and retained in care if they reported HIV clinic attendance at every semiannual study visit. We used logistic regression to identify predictors of poor retention in care and failure to achieve sustained viral suppression in response to ART.
Results
Of 790 HIV-infected IDUs studied, 740 (93.6%) were ever linked to care. The majority of IDUs (76.7%) received ART at some point during observation and of these, most (85.4%) achieved viral suppression. However, over a median of 8.7 years of follow-up, only 241 (30.5%) IDUs were continuously retained with no 6-month lapses in HIV care and only 63 (10.2%) had sustained viral suppression at every study visit after first receiving ART. Suboptimal engagement in care was associated with poor access to medical care, active drug use, and incarceration.
Conclusion
Compared with national estimates of retention in care and virologic suppression in the United States, IDUs are substantially less likely to remain fully engaged in HIV care. Strategies to optimize HIV care should acknowledge the elevated risk of poor engagement in care among IDUs.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e328363bff2
PMCID: PMC3795966  PMID: 23770493
antiretroviral therapy; drug users; human immunodeficiency virus; primary care; retention in care
7.  Limited Uptake of Hepatitis C Treatment among Injection Drug Users 
Journal of community health  2008;33(3):126-133.
We characterized HCV treatment knowledge, experience and barriers in a cohort of community-based injection drug users (IDUs) in Baltimore, MD. In 2005, a questionnaire on HCV treatment knowledge, experience and barriers was administered to HCV-infected IDUs. Self-reported treatment was confirmed from medical records. Of 597 participants, 71% were male, 95% African-American, 31% HIV co-infected and 94% were infected with HCV genotype 1; 70% were aware that treatment was available, but only 22% understood that HCV could be cured. Of 418 who had heard of treatment, 86 (21%) reported an evaluation by a provider that included a discussion of treatment of whom 30 refused treatment, 20 deferred and 36 reported initiating treatment (6% overall). The most common reasons for refusal were related to treatment-related perceptions and a low perceived need of treatment. Compared to those who had discussed treatment with their provider, those who had not were more likely to be injecting drugs, less likely to have health insurance, and less knowledgeable about treatment. Low HCV treatment effectiveness was observed in this IDU population. Comprehensive integrated care strategies that incorporate education, case-management and peer support are needed to improve care and treatment of HCV-infected IDUs.
doi:10.1007/s10900-007-9083-3
PMCID: PMC3800027  PMID: 18165889
Hepatitis C virus; Injection drug use; Antiviral therapy; Health care access
8.  Hepatic steatosis associated with increased central body fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and uncontrolled HIV in HIV/hepatitis C co-infected persons 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(6):811-817.
Objective
To evaluate the relationship between regional body composition and liver disease (fibrosis or steatosis) in HIV/HCV co-infected individuals.
Methods
Whole body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was performed in 173 HIV/HCV co-infected persons within 12 months of a liver biopsy. Significant fibrosis was defined as a METAVIR stage greater than 1. Steatosis was graded as: 0, none; 1, steatosis involving less than 5% of hepatocytes; 2, 5–29%; 3, 30–60%; 4 greater than 60%, and was defined as more than 0. Poisson regression with robust variance was used to estimate prevalence ratios of the outcome measures.
Results
The population was 62% male and 84% black with a median body mass index of 25.2 kg/m2 (interquartile range 22.5, 29.3 kg/m2). No differences in regional body fat or fat distribution were observed in 42 patients with significant fibrosis compared to others with less fibrosis. However, the 77 individuals (45%) with steatosis had greater central fat than those without steatosis [prevalence ratio 1.04 per kg trunk fat; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04, 1.11], after adjusting for hepatic fibrosis (prevalence ratio 1.77; 95% CI 1.29, 2.42), uncontrolled HIV replication (viral load >400 copies/ml) (prevalence ratio 1.57; 95% CI 1.12, 2.22), age, sex, race and diabetes mellitus.
Conclusions
In HIV/HCV co-infected individuals, measures of regional body fat or fat distribution were not associated with hepatic fibrosis. In contrast, increased central adiposity by DXA, as well as concomitant fibrosis and uncontrolled HIV, were associated with hepatic steatosis. The extent to which weight loss and effective antiretroviral therapy can reduce the risk of steatosis deserves further investigation.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283333651
PMCID: PMC3800050  PMID: 20186036
body composition; hepatic fibrosis; hepatitis C; HIV; steatosis
9.  Vitamin D deficiency and its relation to bone mineral density and liver fibrosis in HIV–HCV coinfection 
Antiviral therapy  2012;18(2):237-242.
Background
Fractures and cirrhosis are major causes of morbidity and mortality among HIV–HCV-coinfected individuals. It is not known whether vitamin D deficiency is associated with these outcomes.
Methods
Between 2005 and 2007, 116 HIV–HCV- coinfected individuals underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry within 1 year of a liver biopsy. 25-Hydroxy-vitamin D (25OHD) and parathyroid hormone were measured from archived samples. Low bone mineral density (BMD) was defined as BMD≥2 standard deviations lower than age-, sex- and race-matched controls (Z-score ≤−2.0) at the total hip, femoral neck or lumbar spine. Histological fibrosis staging was assessed according to the METAVIR system (0 [no fibrosis] to 4 [cirrhosis]).
Results
The cohort was 87% African-American and 63% male. The median age (IQR) was 49.9 years (46.5–53.3). A total of 89% had a CD4+ T-cell count >200 cells/mm3 and 64% were receiving HAART. The median 25OHD was 19 ng/ ml (IQR 11.0–26.0). Hypovitaminosis D (25OHD≤15 ng/ml) was present in 41% and secondary hyperparathyroidism, defined by parathyroid hormone >65 pg/ml, was present in 24%. In total, 27% had low BMD (Z-score ≤−2) at the spine, femoral neck or total hip, and 39% had significant hepatic fibrosis (METAVIR≥2). In multivariate analysis, vitamin D deficiency was not associated with significant fibrosis or with BMD at any site.
Conclusions
Vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent in this mostly African-American HIV–HCV-coinfected population, but was not related to BMD or liver disease severity. These data suggest that efforts to increase vitamin D levels in this population may not improve bone or liver outcomes.
doi:10.3851/IMP2264
PMCID: PMC3790468  PMID: 22910231
10.  Assessment of liver disease (non-invasive methods) 
Current opinion in HIV and AIDS  2011;6(6):465-471.
Purpose of review
The purpose of this review is to highlight new findings published in 2010-11 related to noninvasive fibrosis assessment in HIV/HCV co-infected patients. Overall, in 2010-11, 15 papers were published, of which two were excluded because they were published in languages other than English.
Recent findings
11 papers focused on serum marker panels. Papers sought to either 1) validate established panels in HIV/HCV co-infected patients often by comparing multiple serum marker panels in the same population; 2) establish new marker panels using combinations of markers used in previously validated panels; and 3) develop new marker panels using novel methodology. Overall, all panels performed within similar ranges of diagnostic accuracy as measured by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) but the Fibrometer panel and its derivations achieved the highest performance. Four studies focused on transient elastography (TE). Two papers confirmed its accuracy for identifying fibrosis and cirrhosis and two papers confirmed that misclassification rates are higher in the presence of elevated triglycerides and steatosis.
Summary
Overall, performance of TE appeared superior to the majority of serum marker panels for the detection of significant fibrosis and cirrhosis in HIV/HCV co-infected patients. Challenges of widespread application of TE remain high misclassification in some subgroups, lack of standardized cutpoints and lack of widespread availability. Panels that were newly developed in 2010-11 specifically for HIV/HCV appeared to perform better than existing panels such as APRI and FIB-4; however additional external validation will be needed to confirm their accuracy.
doi:10.1097/COH.0b013e32834b55c7
PMCID: PMC3784022  PMID: 21857222
hepatitis C virus; liver fibrosis; HIV; elastography; serum markers
11.  Vitamin D Deficiency and Persistent Proteinuria among HIV-infected and –uninfected Injection Drug Users 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(3):295-302.
Objective
Proteinuria occurs commonly among HIV-infected and -uninfected injection drug users (IDUs) and is associated with increased mortality risk. Vitamin D deficiency, highly prevalent among IDUs and potentially modifiable, may contribute to proteinuria. To determine whether vitamin D is associated with proteinuria in this population, we conducted a cross-sectional study in the AIDS Linked to the IntraVenous Experience (ALIVE) Study.
Methods
25(OH)-vitamin D levels were measured in 268 HIV-infected and 614 HIV-uninfected participants. The association between vitamin D deficiency (<10 ng/mL) and urinary protein excretion was evaluated by linear regression. The odds of persistent proteinuria (urine protein-to-creatinine ratio >200 mg/g on two occasions) associated with vitamin D deficiency was examined using logistic regression.
Results
One-third of participants were vitamin D-deficient. Vitamin D deficiency was independently associated with higher urinary protein excretion (P<0.05) among HIV-infected and diabetic IDUs (P-interaction<0.05 for all). Persistent proteinuria occurred in 18% of participants. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with >6-fold odds of persistent proteinuria among diabetic IDUs (odds ratio [OR]=6.29, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.54, 25.69) independent of sociodemographic characteristics, co-morbid conditions, body mass index, and impaired kidney function (estimated GFR <60 mL/min|1.73 m2); no association, however, was observed among non-diabetic IDUs (OR=1.06, 95% CI: 0.64, 1.76) (P-interaction<0.05).
Conclusions
Vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher urinary protein excretion among those with HIV infection and diabetes. Vitamin D deficiency was independently associated with persistent proteinuria among diabetic IDUs, although not in non-diabetic persons. Whether vitamin D repletion ameliorates proteinuria in these patients requires further study.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32834f33a2
PMCID: PMC3766727  PMID: 22156964
Vitamin D deficiency; proteinuria; HIV; injection drug use; diabetes
12.  Genome wide association study of spontaneous resolution of hepatitis C virus infection 
Annals of internal medicine  2013;158(4):235-245.
Background
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections occur worldwide and either spontaneously resolve or persist and markedly increase the person’s lifetime risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although HCV persistence occurs more often in persons of African ancestry and in persons with a genetic variant near IL28B, the genetic basis is not well understood.
Objective
To evaluate the host genetic basis for spontaneous resolution of HCV infection.
Design
Two-stage genome wide association study (GWAS).
Setting
13 international multicenter study sites.
Patients
919 individuals with serum HCV antibodies but no HCV RNA (spontaneous resolution) and 1482 individuals with serum HCV antibodies and RNA (persistence).
Measurements
Frequencies of 792,721 SNPs.
Results
Differences in allele frequencies between persons with spontaneous resolution and persistence were identified on chromosomes 19q13.13 and 6p21.32. On chromosome 19, allele frequency differences localized near IL28B and included rs12979860 (overall per-allele OR = 0.45, P = 2.17 × 10−30) and 10 additional SNPs spanning 55,000 bases. On chromosome 6, allele frequency differences localized near genes for class II human leukocyte antigens (HLA) and included rs4273729 (overall per-allele OR= 0.59, P = 1.71 × 10−16) near DQB1*03:01 and an additional 116 SNPs spanning 1,090,000 base pairs. The associations in chromosomes 19 and 6 were independent, additive, and explain an estimated 14.9% (95% CI: 8.5–22.6%) of the variation in HCV resolution in those of European-Ancestry, and 15.8% (95% CI:4.4–31.0%) in individuals of African-Ancestry. Replication of the chromosome 6 SNP, rs4272729 in an additional 746 individuals confirmed the findings (p=0.015).
Limitations
Epigenetic effects were not studied.
Conclusions
IL28B and HLA class II are independently associated with spontaneous resolution of HCV infection and SNPs marking IL28B and DQB1*03:01 may explain ~15% of spontaneous resolution of HCV infection.
doi:10.7326/0003-4819-158-4-201302190-00003
PMCID: PMC3638215  PMID: 23420232
13.  Laser Captured Hepatocytes Show Association of BCHE Loss and Fibrosis Progression in Hepatitis C Infected Drug Users 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(2):544-554.
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is complicated by hepatic fibrosis. Hypothesizing that early fibrogenic signals may originate in cells susceptible to HCV infection, hepatocyte gene expression was analyzed from persons with chronic HCV at different stages of liver fibrosis. Four HCV-infected subjects with pre-cirrhotic liver fibrosis (Ishak fibrosis 3–5) were matched for age, race, and gender to five HCV-infected subjects with no evidence of fibrosis (Ishak fibrosis 0). Hepatocytes from each subject were isolated from liver biopsies using laser capture microdissection. Transcriptome profiling was performed on hepatocyte RNA using hybridization arrays. We found that hepatocytes in pre-cirrhotic fibrosis were depleted for genes involved in small molecule and drug metabolism, especially butyrylcholinesterase (BCHE), a gene involved in the metabolism of drugs of abuse. Differential expression of BCHE was validated in the same tissues and cross-sectionally in an expanded cohort of 143 HCV-infected individuals. In a longitudinal study, serum BCHE activity were already decreased at study inception in 19 fibrosis progressors compared to 20 fibrosis non-progressors (p<0.05). Non-progressors also had decreased BCHE activity over time compared to initial values, but these evolved a median (range) 8.6 (7.8–11.4) years after the study period inception(p<0.05). Laser captured portal tracts were enriched for immune related genes when compared to hepatocytes but pre-cirrhotic livers lost this enrichment.
Conclusion
Overall, we found that chronic HCV is associated with hepatocyte BCHE loss years before hepatic synthetic function is impaired. These results indicate that BCHE may be involved in the pathogenesis of HCV-related fibrosis among injection drug users.
doi:10.1002/hep.25655
PMCID: PMC3388175  PMID: 22331678
butyrylcholinesterase; Hepacivirus; chronic HCV infection; laser capture microdissection; portal tract
14.  Circulating Microparticles as Disease-Specific Biomarkers of Severity of Inflammation in Patients with Hepatitis C or Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis 
Gastroenterology  2012;143(2):448-458.
Background & Aims
Microparticles released into the bloodstream upon activation or apoptosis of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells correlate with inflammation, determined by histologic analysis, in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Patients with nonalcoholic fatter liver (NAFL) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) can be differentiated from those with CHC based on activation of distinct sets of immune cells in the liver.
Methods
We compared profiles of circulating microparticles from patients with NAFL and NASH (n=67) to those with CHC (n=42), compared with healthy individuals (controls) using flow cytometry; the profiles were correlated with inflammation grade and fibrosis stage, based on histologic analyses. We assessed the ability of the profiles determine the severity of inflammation and fibrosis, based on serologic and histologic analyses.
Results
Patients with CHC had increased levels of microparticles from CD4+ and CD8+ T cells; the levels correlated with disease severity, based on histologic analysis and levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Patients with NAFL or NASH had significant increases in numbers of microparticles from invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells and macrophages/monocytes (CD14+), which mediate pathogenesis of NASH. Microparticles from CD14+ and iNKT cells correlated with levels of ALT and severity of NASH (based on histology). Levels of microparticles could differentiate between patients with NAFL or NASH and those with CHC, or either group of patients and controls (area under the receiver operating characteristic curves ranging from 0.56 to 0.99).
Conclusions
Quantification of immune cell microparticles from serum samples can be used to assess the extent and characteristics of hepatic inflammation in patients with chronic liver disease.
doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2012.04.031
PMCID: PMC3404266  PMID: 22537612
Biomarker; CD1c; CD4+; CD8+; CD14+; CD15+; CD41+; CD16+; ectosome; fibrosis; HCV; inflammation; iNKT; NKT; liver; macrophage; microparticle; monocyte; NASH; plasma; serum; T cell; non-invasive assay; lymphocyte; serum assay; biomarker assay
15.  Non-fatal overdose and subsequent drug treatment among injection drug users 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2005;83(2):104-110.
Overdose is a leading cause of death among illicit drug users. 924 injection drug users (IDUs) in Baltimore, Maryland, were interviewed to characterize overdose events and determine the circumstances under which they lead to drug treatment. Overall, 366 (39.7%) reported at least one non-fatal drug overdose. Most (96.2%) used heroin on the day of their last overdose and almost half (42.6%) used heroin and alcohol but few (4.1%) used tranquilizers or benzodiazepines. Five percent were in drug treatment when the overdose occurred and 7.1% had been incarcerated two weeks prior. One in four IDUs (26.2%) sought drug treatment within 30 days after their last overdose of whom 75% enrolled. Speaking with someone about drug treatment after the overdose was associated with treatment seeking (AOR 5.22; 95% CI: 3.12, 8.71). Family members were the most commonly cited source of treatment information (53.7%) but only those who spoke with spouses, crisis counselors and hospital staff were more likely to seek treatment. Not being ready for treatment (69.6%) and not viewing drug use as a problem (30.7%) were the most common reasons for not seeking treatment and being placed on a waiting list was the most common reason for not subsequently enrolling in treatment (66.7%). Of the IDUs treated by emergency medical technicians, emergency room staff, or hospital staff, only 17.3%, 26.2% and 43.2% reported getting drug treatment information from those sources, respectively. Interventions that provide drug treatment information and enhance motivation for treatment in the medical setting and policies that reduce barriers to treatment entry among motivated drug users are recommended.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2005.10.015
PMCID: PMC3711523  PMID: 16310322
16.  HIV, Age, and the Severity of Hepatitis C Virus–Related Liver Disease 
Annals of internal medicine  2013;158(9):658-666.
Background
Persons with HIV infection have been reported to develop age-related diseases at younger ages than those without HIV. Whether this finding is related to HIV infection or failure to control for other risk factors is unknown.
Objective
To investigate whether persons with HIV infection develop hepatitis C virus (HCV)–related liver disease at younger ages than similar persons without HIV.
Design
Comparison of the severity of liver fibrosis by age among persons who have HCV with and without HIV followed concurrently in the same protocol.
Setting
Observational cohort from Baltimore, Maryland, participating in the ALIVE (AIDS Linked to the IntraVenous Experience) study.
Participants
1176 current and former injection drug users with antibodies to HCV.
Measurements
Liver fibrosis assessed semiannually from 2006 to 2011 by elastography (FibroScan, Echosens, Paris, France) and using previously validated thresholds for clinically significant fibrosis and cirrhosis; concurrent assessment of medical history, alcohol and illicit drug use, HCV RNA levels, hepatitis B virus surface antigen level, body mass index, and (for those with HIV) CD4+ lymphocyte count and HIV RNA levels.
Results
Among 1176 participants with antibodies to HCV, the median age was 49 years and 34% were coinfected with HIV and HCV. Participants contributed 5634 valid liver fibrosis measurements. The prevalence of clinically significant fibrosis without cirrhosis (12.9% vs. 9.5%) and of cirrhosis (19.5% vs. 11.0%) was greater in persons coinfected with HIV and HCV than in those with only HCV (P < 0.001). Increasing age and HIV infection were independently associated with liver fibrosis, as were daily alcohol use, chronic hepatitis B virus infection, body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2, and greater plasma HCV RNA levels. When these factors were kept constant, persons with HIV had liver fibrosis measurements equal to those of persons without HIV, who were, on average, 9.2 years older.
Limitation
The process of liver fibrosis began before the study in most persons.
Conclusion
In this cohort, persons who have HCV with HIV have liver fibrosis stages similar to those without HIV who are nearly a decade older.
doi:10.7326/0003-4819-158-9-201305070-00604
PMCID: PMC3708651  PMID: 23440167
17.  Stability of liver fibrosis among HCV-infected injection drug users 
Antiviral therapy  2012;17(5):813-821.
Background
There are few published data characterizing patterns of liver stiffness measurements (LSMs) among HCV-infected persons and their potential impact on clinical decisions (for example, deferring treatment and hepatocellular carcinoma surveillance).
Methods
A total of 591 HCV-infected injection drug users (IDUs) in a community-based cohort had four LSMs. We used semi-parametric latent class growth modelling to identify patterns, which then became a gold standard against which we characterized validity of information from the initial measurements.
Results
Median age was 49, 68% were male, 92% African-American and 33% HIV-coinfected. The median LSM at visit 1 was 6.7 kPa (IQR 5.3–8.8). Over a median 1.75 years, LSM measures were stable; median change between visits was 0 kPa (IQR -1.4–1.7). Only 3% had evidence of fibrosis progression. Other groups included stable patterns of 1) no fibrosis (59%), 2) moderate fibrosis (21%), 3) severe fibrosis (7%) and 4) cirrhosis (9%). Individuals with fibrosis progression were more likely to be HIV-infected than those with stable low fibrosis (P<0.001). The diagnostic accuracy of the first LSM for identification of need for cancer surveillance (cirrhosis ≥12.3 kPa) was high (positive predictive value = 97%). Although no single low LSM had high negative predictive value for significant fibrosis (metavir <2), individuals with two or more low results rarely had progression.
Conclusions
These data underscore the stability of liver fibrosis in a cohort of predominantly African-American HCV-infected persons over 1.75 years, support using LSMs to monitor untreated persons at risk for progression and assess need for hepatocellular carcinoma surveillance.
doi:10.3851/IMP2085
PMCID: PMC3699312  PMID: 22418880
18.  Estimating the effects of multiple time-varying exposures using joint marginal structural models: alcohol consumption, injection drug use, and HIV acquisition 
Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.)  2012;23(4):574-582.
The joint effects of multiple exposures on an outcome are frequently of interest in epidemiologic research. In 2001, Hernán, Brumback, and Robins (JASA 2001; 96: 440–448) presented methods for estimating the joint effects of multiple time-varying exposures subject to time-varying confounding affected by prior exposure using joint marginal structural models. Nonetheless, the use of these joint models is rare in the applied literature. Minimal uptake of these joint models, in contrast to the now widely used standard marginal structural model, is due in part to a lack of examples demonstrating the method. In this paper, we review the assumptions necessary for unbiased estimation of joint effects as well as the distinction between interaction and effect measure modification. We demonstrate the use of marginal structural models for estimating the joint effects of alcohol consumption and injection drug use on HIV acquisition, using data from 1,525 injection drug users in the AIDS Link to Intravenous Experience cohort study. In the joint model, the hazard ratio (HR) for heavy drinking in the absence of any drug injections was 1.58 (95% confidence interval= 0.67–3.73). The HR for any drug injections in the absence of heavy drinking was 1.78 (1.10–2.89). The HR for heavy drinking and any drug injections was 2.45 (1.45–4.12). The P values for multiplicative and additive interaction were 0.7620 and 0.9200, respectively, indicating a lack of departure from effects that multiply or add. However, we could not rule out interaction on either scale due to imprecision.
doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e31824d1ccb
PMCID: PMC3367098  PMID: 22495473
19.  Discordance Between CD4+ T-Lymphocyte Counts and Percentages in HIV-Infected Persons With Liver Fibrosis 
In cross-sectional analysis of 287 human immunodeficiency virus–infected persons with high hepatitis C virus prevalence, liver fibrosis defined by elastography was associated with higher CD4+ T-cell percentages relative to absolute CD4+ number; this discordance was most apparent in persons with marked lymphopenia.
Background. Cirrhosis of the liver can induce splenic sequestration of peripheral blood cells, recently suggested to reduce the number but not percentage of circulating CD4+ T cells in persons uninfected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We investigated whether earlier stages of liver fibrosis prior to cirrhosis were associated with discordance between CD4 count (CD4N) and CD4 percentage (CD4%) in HIV-infected patients.
Methods. In cross-sectional analysis of 287 HIV-infected participants of the AIDS Linked to the Intravenous Experience cohort, we evaluated CD4N, CD4%, and transient elastography staging of liver fibrosis. High CD4+ lymphocyte discordance was defined as higher CD4% relative to CD4N based on accepted clinical cutoffs; multivariable logistic regression was used to determine covariates associated with discordance.
Results. Of 287 participants, 99 (34.4%) had high CD4+ discordance, which increased to 76% of 114 participants with marked lymphopenia (total lymphocyte count [TLC] ≤1200 cells/μL). In multivariable analysis, the odds of having high CD4+ discordance was increased in persons with significant liver fibrosis compared to those without fibrosis (odds ratio, 1.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], .95–2.96); the odds ratio of discordance increased to 2.66 (95% CI, 1.11–6.40) among the subset of participants with TLC ≤1200 cells/μL. The odds for discordance associated with cirrhosis were of similar magnitude as those observed with significant fibrosis.
Conclusions. In HIV-infected persons, liver fibrosis is associated with discordant peripheral CD4+ lymphocyte results, especially in the setting of marked lymphopenia. Clinicians should also consider CD4% when interpreting absolute CD4+ counts of HIV-infected persons with known or suspected liver disease, particularly if TLC is <1200 cells/μL.
doi:10.1093/cid/cis294
PMCID: PMC3404711  PMID: 22460963
20.  Changes in sexual and drug-related risk behavior following antiretroviral therapy initiation among HIV-infected injection drug users 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(18):2383-2391.
Objective
To evaluate whether HAART is associated with subsequent sexual and drug-related risk behavior compensation among injection drug users (IDUs).
Design
A community-based cohort study of 362 HIV-infected IDUs initiating HAART in Baltimore, Maryland.
Methods
HAART use and risk behavior was assessed at 8316 biannual study visits (median 23). Using logistic regression with generalized estimating equations (GEE), we examined the effect of HAART initiation on changes in risk behavior while adjusting for sociodemographics, alcohol use, CD4+ cell count, year of initiation and consistency of HAART use.
Results
At HAART initiation, participants were a median of 44.4 years old, 71.3% men and 95.3% African–American. In multivariable analysis, HAART initiation was associated with a 75% reduction in the likelihood of unprotected sex [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.25; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.19–0.32] despite no change in overall sexual activity (aOR 0.95; 0.80–1.12). Odds of any injecting decreased by 38% (aOR 0.62; 0.51–0.75) after HAART initiation. Among the subset of persistent injectors, needle-sharing increased nearly two-fold (aOR 1.99; 1.57–2.52). Behavioral changes were sustained for more than 5 years after HAART initiation and did not differ by consistency of HAART use. Reporting specific high-risk behaviors in the year prior to initiation was a robust predictor of engaging in those behaviors subsequent to HAART.
Conclusion
Overall, substantial declines in sexual risk-taking and active injecting argue against significant behavioral compensation among IDUs following HAART initiation. These data also provide evidence to support identifying persons with risky pre-HAART behavior for targeted behavioral intervention.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32835ad438
PMCID: PMC3678983  PMID: 23079804
antiretroviral therapy; HIV prevention; injecting; injection drug users; risk compensation; sexual behavior
21.  Immunologic response among HIV-infected patients enrolled in a graduated cost-recovery programme of antiretroviral therapy delivery in Chennai, India 
The Indian Journal of Medical Research  2013;137(6):1145-1153.
Background & objectives:
Sustainability of free antiretroviral therapy (ART) roll out programmes in resource-limited settings is challenging given the need for lifelong therapy and lack of effective vaccine. This study was undertaken to compare treatment outcomes among HIV-infected patients enrolled in a graduated cost-recovery programme of ART delivery in Chennai, India.
Methods:
Financial status of patients accessing care at a tertiary care centre, YRGCARE, Chennai, was assessed using an economic survey; patients were distributed into tiers 1- 4 requiring them to pay 0, 50, 75 or 100 per cent of their medication costs, respectively. A total of 1754 participants (ART naïve = 244) were enrolled from February 2005-January 2008 with the following distribution: tier 1=371; tier 2=338; tier 3=693; tier 4=352. Linear regression models with generalized estimating equations were used to examine immunological response among patients across the four tiers.
Results:
Median age was 34; 73 per cent were male, and the majority were on nevirapine-based regimens. Median follow up was 11.1 months. The mean increase in CD4 cell count within the 1st three months of HAART was 50.3 cells/μl per month in tier 1. Compared to those in tier 1, persons in tiers 2, 3 and 4 had comparable increases (49.7, 57.0, and 50.9 cells/μl per month, respectively). Increases in subsequent periods (3-18 and >18 months) were also comparable across tiers. No differential CD4 gains across tiers were observed when the analysis was restricted to patients initiating ART under the GCR programme.
Interpretation & conclusions:
This ART delivery model was associated with significant CD4 gains with no observable difference by how much patients paid. Importantly, gains were comparable to those in other free rollout programmes. Additional cost-effectiveness analyses and mathematical modelling would be needed to determine whether such a delivery programme is a sustainable alternative to free ART programmes.
PMCID: PMC3734719  PMID: 23852295
ART; cost-recovery programme; HIV; India; treatment outcomes
22.  Protocol for an experimental study design to evaluate computer-enabled intervention to prevent and manage metabolic syndrome 
BMJ Open  2013;3(3):e002163.
Introduction
The rising prevalence of overweight and obesity has a direct correlation with increasing prevalence of hypertension, dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome (MetS) and cardiovascular diseases. Most of the previous studies have been cross-sectional in nature and have looked at the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Despite the clinical and public health importance of this phenomenon, not enough work has been carried out so far to study and remedy this situation. The objectives of the proposed study is to develop an innovative user-centred informatics platform that will facilitate delivery of a multifactorial intervention after taking into account user sociodemographics, health behaviour, prior disease state and knowledge attitudes and practices.
Objective
The objective of the proposed study is to develop an innovative user-centred informatics platform that will facilitate delivery of a multifactorial intervention after taking into account users’ sociodemographics, health behaviour, prior disease state and knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.
Methods and analysis
A randomised two-group repeated-measures clinical trial design will be used, on 750 subjects from urban, rural and slum areas, in an Indian setting. The study participants will be randomly assigned to either the intervention (computer-based MetS Program, CBMP) or control (printed educational material, PEM) group. Both the groups will undergo screening, learning and evaluation assessments at the time of the visit and at follow-up visits 30, 60 and 90 days after the first visit.
Outcomes
The outcomes expected in the intervention group include improvement in Mets-related knowledge, adherence to self-care practices, better quality of life and increased satisfaction with medical care.
Ethics and dissemination
The study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of Asian Institute of Public Health (IRB#621). The proposed study will also help us assess the usefulness and challenges of technology to disseminate health education among diverse users. Findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and national and international conference presentations to various stakeholders and local community health leaders. The ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier is NCT01713465.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002163
PMCID: PMC3612782  PMID: 23454666
Metabolic Syndrome; Informatics; Adherence; Knowledge; Rural
23.  Factors associated with injection cessation, relapse and initiation in a community-based cohort of injection drug users in Chennai, India 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2011;107(2):349-358.
Aims
To characterize factors associated with injection cessation, relapse and initiation.
Design
MIDACS is a prospective cohort of injection drug users (IDUs) recruited in 2005–06 with semi-annual follow-up through 2009. Discrete-time survival models were used to characterize predictors of time to first injection cessation and relapse.
Setting
Chennai, India
Participants
855 IDUs who reported injecting in the six months prior to baseline and had > 1 follow-up visit.
Measurements
Cessation was defined as the first visit where no injection drug use was reported (prior six months) and relapse as the first visit where drug injection (prior six months) was reported after first cessation.
Findings
All participants were male; median age was 35. Over three years, 92.7% reported cessation (incidence rate [IR]: 117 per 100 person-years). Factors positively associated with cessation included daily injection and incarceration and factors negatively associated with cessation included marriage, alcohol and homelessness. Of those who reported cessation, 24% relapsed (IR: 19.7 per 100 person-years). Factors positively associated with relapse included any education, injection in the month prior to baseline, sex with a casual partner, non-injection drug use, incarceration and homelessness. Alcohol was negatively associated with relapse. The primary reasons for cessation were medical conditions (36%) and family pressure (22%). The majority initiated with non-injection drugs, transitioning to injection after a median 4 years.
Conclusions
Injection drug users in Southern India demonstrate a high rate of injection cessation over three years, but relapse is not uncommon. Compensatory increases in alcohol use indicate that cessation of injection does not mean cessation of all substance use. Family pressure, concerns about general health, fear of HIV infection, and a history of non-injection drug use are important correlates of cessation.
doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03602.x
PMCID: PMC3222716  PMID: 21815960
natural history; drug use; India; injection drug users; cohort
24.  Frailty, HIV Infection, and Mortality in an Aging Cohort of Injection Drug Users 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54910.
Background
Frailty is associated with morbidity and premature mortality among elderly HIV-uninfected adults, but the determinants and consequences of frailty in HIV-infected populations remain unclear. We evaluated the correlates of frailty, and the impact of frailty on mortality in a cohort of aging injection drug users (IDUs).
Methods
Frailty was assessed using standard criteria among HIV-infected and uninfected IDUs in 6-month intervals from 2005 to 2008. Generalized linear mixed-model analyses assessed correlates of frailty. Cox proportional hazards models estimated risk for all-cause mortality.
Results
Of 1230 participants at baseline, the median age was 48 years and 29% were HIV-infected; the frailty prevalence was 12.3%. In multivariable analysis of 3,365 frailty measures, HIV-infected IDUs had an increased likelihood of frailty (OR, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.24–2.21) compared to HIV-uninfected IDUs; the association was strongest (OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.62–3.48) among HIV-infected IDUs with advanced HIV disease (CD4<350 cells/mm3 and detectable HIV RNA). No significant association was seen with less advanced disease. Sociodemographic factors, comorbidity, depressive symptoms, and prescription drug abuse were also independently associated with frailty. Mortality risk was increased with frailty alone (HR 2.63, 95% CI, 1.23–5.66), HIV infection alone (HR 3.29, 95% CI, 1.85–5.88), and being both HIV-infected and frail (HR, 7.06; 95%CI 3.49–14.3).
Conclusion
Frailty was strongly associated with advanced HIV disease, but IDUs with well-controlled HIV had a similar prevalence to HIV-uninfected IDUs. Frailty was independently associated with mortality, with a marked increase in mortality risk for IDUs with both frailty and HIV infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054910
PMCID: PMC3561408  PMID: 23382997
25.  HIV Infection, Immune Suppression, and Uncontrolled Viremia Are Associated With Increased Multimorbidity Among Aging Injection Drug Users 
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons, especially those with advanced immune suppression or uncontrolled viremia, experienced increased numbers of multimorbid non-AIDS-defining conditions compared with epidemiologically comparable HIV-uninfected persons. Many of these clinically identified chronic diseases were unrecognized and untreated.
Background. Despite an increasing burden of age-associated non-AIDS outcomes, few studies have investigated the prevalence or correlates of multimorbidity among aging human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected and epidemiologically comparable at-risk populations.
Methods. Among 1262 AIDS Linked to the IntraVenous Experience (ALIVE) study participants followed in a community-based observational cohort, we defined the prevalence of 7 non-AIDS-defining chronic conditions (diabetes, obstructive lung disease, liver disease, anemia, obesity, kidney dysfunction, and hypertension) using clinical and laboratory criteria. Ordinal logistic regression was used to model the odds of increased multimorbidity associated with demographic, behavioral, and clinical factors. Self-reported prevalence was compared with clinically defined prevalence.
Results. Participants were a median of 48.9 years of age; 65.1% were male, 87.5% were African-American, and 28.7% were HIV infected. In multivariable analysis, HIV infection (odds ratio [OR], 1.50; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13–1.99) was positively associated with increased multimorbidity. Among HIV-infected participants, multimorbidity was increased with lower nadir CD4 T-cell count (OR, 1.14 per 100-cell decrease; 95% CI, 1.00–1.29) and higher current HIV RNA (OR, 1.32 per log10 increase; 95% CI, 1.08–1.60). Older age, being female, not using cigarettes or drugs, and having depressive symptoms were also associated with increased multimorbidity. A substantial proportion of multimorbid conditions in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected participants were unrecognized and untreated.
Conclusions. HIV-infected participants experienced increased numbers of multimorbid conditions; risk increased with advanced immunosuppression and higher viremia. These results underscore the heavy burden of multimorbidity associated with HIV and highlight the need for incorporating routine assessment and integrated management of chronic diseases as part of comprehensive healthcare for aging, HIV-infected persons.
doi:10.1093/cid/cir673
PMCID: PMC3214585  PMID: 21976463

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