Translation of the evidence regarding the protective role of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on HIV sexual transmission rates into sexual behaviour patterns of HIV-infected subjects remains largely unexplored. This study aims to describe frequency of self-reported condom use among women living with HIV in Italy and to investigate the variables associated with inconsistent condom use (ICU).
DIDI (Donne con Infezione Da HIV) is an Italian multicentre study based on a questionnaire survey performed during November 2010 and February 2011. Women-reported frequency of condom use was dichotomized in “always” versus “at times”/“never” (ICU).
Among 343 women, prevalence of ICU was 44.3%. Women declared a stable partnership with an HIV-negative (38%) and with an HIV-positive person (43%), or an occasional sexual partner (19%). Among the 194 women engaged in a stable HIV-negative or an occasional partnership, 51% reported fear of infecting the partner. Nonetheless, 43% did not disclose HIV-positive status. Less than 5% of women used contraceptive methods other than condoms. At multivariable analysis, variables associated with ICU in the subgroup of women with a stable HIV-negative or an occasional HIV-unknown partner were: having an occasional partner (AOR 3.51, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.44–8.54, p=0.005), and reporting fear of infecting the sexual partner (AOR 3.20, 95% CI 1.43–7.16, p=0.004). Current use of HAART together with virological control in plasma level did not predict ICU after adjusting for demographic, behavioural and HIV-related factors. With regard to socio-demographic factors, lower education was the only variable significantly associated with ICU in the multivariate analysis (AOR 2.27, 95% CI 1.07–4.82, p=0.03). No association was found between high adherence to HAART and ICU after adjusting for potential confounders (AOR 0.89, 95% CI 0.39–2.01, p=0.78).
Currently in Italy, the use of HAART with undetectable HIV RNA in plasma as well as antiretroviral adherence is not associated with a specific condom use pattern in women living with HIV and engaged with a sero-discordant or an HIV-unknown partner. This might suggest that the awareness of the protective role of antiretroviral treatment on HIV sexual transmission is still limited among HIV-infected persons, at least in this country.
HIV; women; condom use; antiviral therapy; adherence
Prevention with a positive approach has been advocated as one of the main strategies to reduce new instances of HIV infection. Risky sexual behaviours among people living with HIV/AIDS are the cornerstone for this approach. Understanding the extent to which infected individuals practice risky behaviours is fundamental in designing appropriate population-specific interventions. With the HIV infection transmission rates remaining high among young people in sub-Saharan Africa, continued prevention among them remains a priority. This study therefore seeks to describe the magnitude and determinants of risky sexual behaviours among young people living with HIV.
A cross-sectional study was conducted between June and July 2010 in selected Care and Treatment Clinics (CTCs) in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. A total of 282 HIV-positive patients aged 15–24 were interviewed about their sexual behaviours using a questionnaire.
Prevalence of unprotected sex was 40.0% among young males and 37.5% among young females (p<0.001). Multiple sexual partnerships were reported by 10.6% of males and 15.9% of females (p<0.005). More than 50% of the participants did not know about the HIV status of their sexual partners. A large proportion of participants had minimal knowledge of transmission (46.7% males vs. 60.4% females) and prevention (65.3% males vs. 73.4% females) of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Independent predictors of condom use included non-use of alcohol [adjusted odds ratio (AOR), 0.40 95% confidence interval (CI); 0.17–0.84] and younger age (15–19 years) (AOR, 2.76, 95% CI: 1.05–7.27). Being on antiretroviral therapy (AOR, 0.38, 95% CI: 0.17–0.85) and not knowing partners’ HIV sero-status (AOR, 2.62, 95% CI: 1.14–5.10) predicted the practice of multiple sexual partnership.
Unprotected sex and multiple sexual partnerships were prevalent among young people living with HIV. Less knowledge on STI and lack of HIV disclosure increased the vulnerability and risk for HIV transmission among young people. Specific intervention measures addressing alcohol consumption, risky sexual behaviours, and STI transmission and prevention knowledge should be integrated in the routine HIV/AIDS care and treatment offered to this age group.
HIV; young people; risky behaviours; Tanzania
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has rendered HIV and AIDS a chronic condition for individuals in many parts of the world. Adherence, however, is integral to achieving chronicity. Studies have shown both relatively high ART adherence rates in sub-Saharan Africa and the importance of community home-based care (CHBC) to facilitating this process. In light of diminished HIV and AIDS funding globally and increased reliance on CHBC throughout Africa, a better understanding of how CHBC may strengthen ART adherence is essential to improving patients’ quality of life, tending to the needs of care supporters and achieving healthier populations.
This article reports findings from a qualitative study of a CHBC organiztion serving an estimated 2500 clients in rural Swaziland. Semi-structured questionnaires with 79 HIV-positive clients [people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA)] yielded data on diverse aspects of being HIV positive, including insights on whether and how PLWHA perceived care supporters to facilitate ART adherence in a high stigma and structurally impoverished setting.
Ninety-two percent of participants said their health had improved since care supporters came into their lives. A major finding was that an estimated 53% of participants said they would have died, a few from suicide had the care supporter never intervened. More than one in four participants (27.9%) sought HIV testing after a care supporter began visiting them. Nearly a third (31%) commenced ART after and largely as a consequence of care supporter intervention. Approximately one in four (23%) reported that their care supporter had helped them to disclose their HIV-positive status to family members. Twenty-seven percent said they had felt discouraged or had been discouraged from taking ART by members of their family or community.
General inductive analysis of participant reports suggested two social mechanisms of CHBC impact on ART adherence: (i) cultivating client-care supporter “talk” to enhance treatment uptake and literacy, reduce felt stigma and challenge social pressures to desist from ART and (ii) real-time interactions between clients and care supporters whereby the care “relationship” was itself the “intervention,” providing lay counsel, material and financial assistance, and encouragement when clients suffered stigma, side effects and other obstacles to adherence. These social dynamics of adherence generally fall outside the purview of conventional clinical and public health research.
PLWHA reports of care supporter practices that enabled ART adherence demonstrated the pivotal role that CHBC plays in many PLWHA lives, especially in hard to reach areas. Relative to clinic personnel, care supporters are often intensely engaged in clients’ experiences of sickness, stigma and poverty, rendering them influential in individuals’ decision-making. This influence must be matched with on-going training and support of care supporters, as well as a clear articulation with the formal and informal health sectors, to ensure that PLWHA are correctly counselled and care supporters themselves supported. Overall, findings showed that PLWHA experiences of CHBC should be captured and incorporated into any programme aimed at successfully implementing the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) Treatment 2.0 agenda Pillar 4 (increasing HIV testing uptake and care linkages) and Pillar 5 (strengthening community mobilization).
Africa; HIV; AIDS; antiretroviral treatment; ART; adherence; stigma; home-based care; chronic disease
Our objective was to estimate primary resistance in an urban setting in a developing country characterized by high antiretroviral (ARV) coverage over the diagnosed population and also by an important proportion of undiagnosed individuals, in order to determine whether any change in primary resistance occurred in the past five years.
We carried out a multi-site resistance surveillance study according to WHO HIV resistance guidelines, using a weighted sampling technique based on annual HIV case reports per site.
Blood samples were collected from 197 drug-naive HIV-1-infected individuals diagnosed between March 2010 and August 2011 at 20 HIV voluntary counselling and testing centres in Buenos Aires. Clinical records of enrolled patients at the time of diagnosis were compiled. Viral load and CD4 counts were performed on all samples. The pol gene was sequenced and the resistance profile determined. Phylogenetic analysis was performed by neighbour-joining (NJ) trees and bootscanning analysis.
We found that 12 (7.9%) of the 152 successfully sequenced samples harboured primary resistance mutations, of which K103N and G190A were the most prevalent. Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) resistance mutations were largely the most prevalent (5.9%), accounting for 75% of all primary resistance and exhibiting a significant increase (p=0.0072) in prevalence during the past 10 years as compared to our previous study performed in 1997–2000 and in 2003–2005. Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) and protease inhibitor primary resistance were low and similar to the one previously reported.
Levels of primary NNRTI resistance in Buenos Aires appear to be increasing in the context of a sustained ARV coverage and a high proportion of undiagnosed HIV-positive individuals.
HIV; primary drug resistance; trend; NNRTI; newly diagnosed
In the management of HIV, women and men generally undergo the same treatment pathway, with gender differences being given limited consideration. This is in spite of accumulating evidence that there are a number of potential differences between women and men which may affect response to treatment, pharmacokinetics, toxicities and coping. There are also notable psychological, behavioural, social and structural factors that may have a unique impact on women living with HIV (WLWH). Despite our increasing knowledge of HIV and advances in treatment, there are significant gaps in the data relating specifically to women. One of the factors contributing to this situation is the under-representation of women in all aspects of HIV clinical research. Furthermore, there are clinical issues unique to women, including gynaecologic and breast diseases, menopause-related factors, contraception and other topics related to women's and sexual health.
Using scoping review methodology, articles from the literature from 1980 to 2012 were identified using appropriate MeSH headings reflecting the clinical status of WLWH, particularly in the areas of clinical management, sexual health, emotional wellbeing and treatment access. Titles and abstracts were scanned to determine whether they were relevant to non-reproductive health in WLWH, and papers meeting inclusion criteria were reviewed.
This review summarizes our current knowledge of the clinical status of WLWH, particularly in the areas of clinical management, sexual health, emotional wellbeing and treatment access. It suggests that there are a number of gender differences in disease and treatment outcomes, and distinct women-specific issues, such as menopause and co-morbidities, that pose significant challenges to the care of WLWH.
Based on a review of this evidence, outstanding questions and areas where further studies are required to determine gender differences in the efficacy and safety of treatment and other clinical and psychological issues specifically affecting WLWH have been identified. Well-controlled and adequately powered clinical studies are essential to help provide answers to these questions and to contribute to activities aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of WLWH.
gender; women; HIV; safety; pharmacokinetics; stigma
A dual split reporter protein system (DSP), recombining Renilla luciferase (RL) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) split into two different constructs (DSP1–7 and DSP8–11), was adapted to create a novel rapid phenotypic tropism assay (PTA) for HIV-1 infection (DSP-Pheno).
DSP1–7 was stably expressed in the glioma-derived NP-2 cell lines, which expressed CD4/CXCR4 (N4X4) or CD4/CCR5 (N4R5), respectively. An expression vector with DSP8–11 (pRE11) was constructed. The HIV-1 envelope genes were subcloned in pRE11 (pRE11-env) and transfected into 293FT cells. Transfected 293FT cells were incubated with the indicator cell lines independently. In developing the assay, we selected the DSP1–7-positive clones that showed the highest GFP activity after complementation with DSP8–11. These cell lines, designated N4R5-DSP1–7, N4X4-DSP1–7 were used for subsequent assays.
The env gene from the reference strains (BaL for R5 virus, NL4-3 for X4 virus, SF2 for dual tropic virus) subcloned in pRE11 and tested, was concordant with the expected co-receptor usage. Assay results were available in two ways (RL or GFP). The assay sensitivity by RL activity was comparable with those of the published phenotypic assays using pseudovirus. The shortest turnaround time was 5 days after obtaining the patient's plasma. All clinical samples gave positive RL signals on R5 indicator cells in the fusion assay. Median RLU value of the low CD4 group was significantly higher on X4 indicator cells and suggested the presence of more dual or X4 tropic viruses in this group of patients. Comparison of representative samples with Geno2Pheno [co-receptor] assay was concordant.
A new cell-fusion-based, high-throughput PTA for HIV-1, which would be suitable for in-house studies, was developed. Equipped with two-way reporter system, RL and GFP, DSP-Pheno is a sensitive test with short turnaround time. Although maintenance of cell lines and laboratory equipment is necessary, it provides a safe assay system without infectious viruses. With further validation against other conventional analyses, DSP-Pheno may prove to be a useful laboratory tool. The assay may be useful especially for the research on non-B subtype HIV-1 whose co-receptor usage has not been studied much.
HIV-1; co-receptor; tropism; co-receptor usage; fusion; chemokine receptor
There is a risk of anaemia among HIV-infected children on antiretroviral therapy (ART) containing zidovudine (ZDV) recommended in first-line regimens in the WHO guidelines. We estimated the risk of severe anaemia after initiation of a ZDV-containing regimen in HIV-infected children included in the IeDEA West African database.
Standardized collection of data from HIV-infected children (positive PCR<18 months or positive serology ≥18 months) followed up in HIV programmes was included in the regional IeDEA West Africa collaboration. Ten clinical centres from seven countries contributed (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali and Senegal) to this collection. Inclusion criteria were age <16 years and starting ART. We explored the data quality of haemoglobin documentation over time and the incidence and predictors of severe anaemia (Hb<7g/dL) per 100 child-years of follow-up over the duration of first-line antiretroviral therapy.
As of December 2009, among the 2933 children included in the collaboration, 45% were girls, median age was five years; median CD4 cell percentage was 13%; median weight-for-age z-score was −2.7; and 1772 (60.4%) had a first-line ZDV-containing regimen. At baseline, 70% of the children with a first-line ZDV-containing regimen had a haemoglobin measure available versus 76% in those not on ZDV (p≤0.01): the prevalence of severe anaemia was 3.0% (n=38) in the ZDV group versus 10.2% (n=89) in those without (p<0. 01). Over the first-line follow-up, 58.9% of the children had ≥1 measure of haemoglobin available in those exposed to ZDV versus 60.4% of those not (p=0.45). Severe anaemia occurred in 92 children with an incidence of 2.47 per 100 child-years of follow-up in those on a ZDV-containing regimen versus 4.25 in those not (p≤0.01). Adjusted for age at ART initiation and first-line regimen, a weight-for-age z-score ≤−3 was a strong predictor associated with a 5.59 times risk of severe anaemia (p<0.01).
Severe anaemia is frequent at baseline and guides the first-line ART prescription, but its incidence seems rare among children on ART. Severe malnutrition at baseline is a strong predictor for development of severe anaemia, and interventions to address this should form an integral component of clinical care.
antiretroviral therapy; children; cohort studies; HIV infection; adverse reactions; West Africa
Early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in eligible pregnant women is a key intervention for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. However, in many settings in sub-Saharan Africa where ART-eligibility is determined by CD4 cell counts, limited access to laboratories presents a significant barrier to rapid ART initiation. Point-of-care (POC) CD4 cell count testing has been suggested as one approach to overcome this challenge, but there are few data on the agreement between POC CD4 cell enumeration and standard laboratory-based testing.
Working in a large antenatal clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, we compared POC CD4 cell enumeration (using the Alere PimaTM Analyzer) to laboratory-based flow cytometry in consecutive HIV-positive pregnant women. Bland–Altman methods were used to compare the two methods, including analyses by subgroups of participant gestational age.
Among the 521 women participating, the median gestational age was 23 weeks, and the median CD4 cell count according to POC and laboratory-based methods was 388 and 402 cells/µL, respectively. On average, the Pima POC test underestimated CD4 cell count relative to flow cytometry: the mean difference (laboratory test minus Pima POC) was 22.7 cells/µL (95% CI, 16.1 to 29.2), and the limits of agreement were −129.2 to 174.6 cells/µL. When analysed by gestational age categories, there was a trend towards increasing differences between laboratory and POC testing with increasing gestational age; in women more than 36 weeks’ gestation, the mean difference was 45.0 cells/µL (p=0.04).
These data suggest reasonable overall agreement between Pima POC CD4 testing and laboratory-based flow cytometry among HIV-positive pregnant women. The finding for decreasing agreement with increasing gestational age requires further investigation, as does the operational role of POC CD4 testing to increase access to ART within PMTCT programmes.
point-of-care test; CD4 cell count; reliability; pregnancy; HIV; antiretroviral therapy; South Africa
The provision of HIV treatment and care in sub-Saharan Africa faces multiple challenges, including weak health systems and attrition of trained health workers. One potential response to overcome these challenges has been to engage community health workers (CHWs).
A systematic literature search for quantitative and qualitative studies describing the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care between inception and December 2012 in sub-Saharan Africa was performed in the following databases: PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, Web of Science, JSTOR, WHOLIS, Google Scholar and SAGE journals online. Bibliographies of included articles were also searched. A narrative synthesis approach was used to analyze common emerging themes on the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa.
In total, 21 studies met the inclusion criteria, documenting a range of tasks performed by CHWs. These included patient support (counselling, home-based care, education, adherence support and livelihood support) and health service support (screening, referral and health service organization and surveillance). CHWs were reported to enhance the reach, uptake and quality of HIV services, as well as the dignity, quality of life and retention in care of people living with HIV. The presence of CHWs in clinics was reported to reduce waiting times, streamline patient flow and reduce the workload of health workers. Clinical outcomes appeared not to be compromised, with no differences in virologic failure and mortality comparing patients under community-based and those under facility-based care. Despite these benefits, CHWs faced challenges related to lack of recognition, remuneration and involvement in decision making.
CHWs can clearly contribute to HIV services delivery and strengthen human resource capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. For their contribution to be sustained, CHWs need to be recognized, remunerated and integrated in wider health systems. Further research focusing on comparative costs of CHW interventions and successful models for mainstreaming CHWs into wider health systems is needed.
HIV; care; community health workers; sub-Saharan Africa; systematic review
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type-1 non-nucleoside and nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are key drugs of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the clinical management of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)/HIV infection.
First-generation NNRTIs, nevirapine (NVP), delavirdine (DLV) and efavirenz (EFV) are drugs with a low genetic barrier and poor resistance profile, which has led to the development of new generations of NNRTIs. Second-generation NNRTIs, etravirine (ETR) and rilpivirine (RPV) have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and European Union, and the next generation of drugs is currently being clinically developed. This review describes recent clinical data, pharmacokinetics, metabolism, pharmacodynamics, safety and tolerability of commercialized NNRTIs, including the effects of sex, race and age differences on pharmacokinetics and safety. Moreover, it summarizes the characteristics of next-generation NNRTIs: lersivirine, GSK 2248761, RDEA806, BILR 355 BS, calanolide A, MK-4965, MK-1439 and MK-6186.
This review presents a wide description of NNRTIs, providing useful information for researchers interested in this field, both in clinical use and in research.
human immunodeficiency virus; non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors; nevirapine; delavirdine; efavirenz; etravirine; rilpivirine; next-generation non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
Papulopruritic eruption (PPE) occurs in people living with HIV in India. Understanding the risk factors associated with this disease may help decrease the prevalence of PPE.
This study was a case-control study performed at the Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine, a tertiary care hospital in Chennai, India. Cases included HIV-positive, antiretroviral (ARV) therapy-naïve adults experiencing a pruritic skin eruption for longer than one month, with evidence of multiple papular or nodular lesions and biopsy consistent with arthropod bite. Controls included HIV-positive, ARV-naïve patients without active skin rash. Main outcome measures were CD4 cell count, histology, and environmental exposures. We performed statistical analysis using Epi Info version 3.5.1 and SPSS version 11.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL). Categorical variables such as gender, urban versus rural residence, occupation, treatment history, CD4 count, use of insect repellents, and environmental exposures were evaluated using the χ2 test (or the Fisher exact test when an expected value for a category was less than 5). The t-test was used to evaluate differences in age and the duration since HIV diagnosis. The Mann-Whitney test was used to compare non-normally distributed values such as CD4 cell count. A p-value that was less than 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.
Forty-one cases and 149 control subjects were included. Subjects with PPE had significantly lower CD4 cell counts compared to controls (225.5 cells/µL vs. 425 cells/µL; p=0.0001). Sixty-six percent of cases had a CD4 cell count less than 350 cells/µL. PPE cases were less likely to use mosquito repellent techniques (odds ratio 2.81, CI = 1.45–5.45).
PPE may be an altered and exaggerated immune response to arthropod bites in HIV-positive patients. CD4 cell count is significantly lower in patients with PPE, and therefore it may be considered a qualifying clinical finding for ARV initiation in resource-poor settings. Protective measures against mosquito bites appeared to be important in preventing PPE in subjects at risk.
papulopruritic eruption; dermatologic; skin; AIDS; HIV; CD4; eosinophilic folliculitis
One important operational challenge facing antiretroviral treatment (ART) programmes in low- and middle-income countries is the loss to follow-up between diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and initiation of ART. This is a major obstacle to achieving universal access to ART. This study from Karnataka, India, tried to measure such losses by determining the number of HIV-positive individuals diagnosed, the number of them reaching ART centres, the number initiated on ART and the reasons for non-initiation of ART.
A review of records routinely maintained under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) was carried out in six districts of Karnataka. HIV-positive persons diagnosed during the months from January to June 2011 in 233 public HIV-testing sites were followed up until December 2011 based on the pre-ART registers. A chi-square test was used to assess statistical significance.
Of 2291 HIV-positive persons diagnosed (52% male; mean age of 35 years), 1829 (80%) reached ART centres. Of the latter, 1166 (64%) were eligible for ART, and 959 (82%) were initiated on treatment. Overall losses (attrition) on the road between HIV diagnosis and ART initiation were 669 (29%). Deaths, migration and not willing to go to the ART centres were cited as the main known reasons for not reaching ART centres. For ART-eligible individuals who did not initiate ART, the most common known reasons for non-initiation included dying before initiation of ART and not being willing to start ART.
In a large state of India, eight in ten HIV-positive persons reached ART centres, and of those found ART eligible, 82% start treatment. Although this is an encouraging achievement, the programme needs to take further steps to improve the current performance by further reducing pre-ART attrition. We recommend online registering of diagnosed HIV-positive patients to track the patients more efficiently.
operational research; ART centres; loss to follow-up; India
Cash payments to vulnerable households and/or individuals have increasingly garnered attention as a means to reduce poverty, improve health and achieve other development-related outcomes. Recent evidence from Malawi and Tanzania suggests that cash transfers can impact HIV-related behaviours and outcomes and, therefore, could serve as an important addition to HIV prevention efforts.
This article reviews the current evidence on cash transfers for HIV prevention and suggests unresolved questions for further research. Gaps include (1) understanding more about the mechanisms and pathways through which cash transfers affect HIV-related outcomes; (2) addressing key operational questions, including the potential feasibility and the costs and benefits of different models of transfers and conditionality; and (3) evaluating and enhancing the wider impacts of cash transfers on health and development.
Ongoing and future studies should build on current findings to unpack unresolved questions and to collect additional evidence on the multiple impacts of transfers in different settings. Furthermore, in order to address questions on sustainability, cash transfer programmes need to be integrated with other sectors and programmes that address structural factors such as education and programming to promote gender equality and address HIV.
cash transfers and HIV; social protection and HIV; structural drivers and HIV; conditional cash transfers (CCTs) and HIV; HIV and incentives
Anaemia is prevalent among children born to HIV-positive women, and it is associated with adverse effects on cognitive and motor development, growth, and increased risks of morbidity and mortality.
To examine the effect of daily multivitamin supplementation on haematologic status and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV through breastfeeding.
A total of 2387 infants born to HIV-positive women from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, and provided a daily oral supplement of multivitamins (vitamin B complex, C and E) or placebo at age 6 weeks for 24 months. Among them, 2008 infants provided blood samples and had haemoglobin concentrations measured at baseline and during a follow-up period. Anaemia was defined as haemoglobin concentrations<11 g/dL and severe anaemia<8.5 g/dL.
Haemoglobin concentrations among children in the treatment group were significantly higher than those in the placebo group at 12 (9.77 vs. 9.64 g/dL, p=0.03), 18 (9.76 vs. 9.57 g/dL, p=0.004), and 24 months (9.93 vs. 9.75 g/dL, p=0.02) of follow-up. Compared to those in the placebo group, children in the treatment group had a 12% lower risk of anaemia (hazard ratio (HR): 0.88; 95% CI: 0.79–0.99; p=0.03). The treatment was associated with a 28% reduced risk of severe anaemia among children born to women without anaemia (HR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.56–0.92; p=0.008), but not among those born to women with anaemia (HR: 1.10; 95% CI: 0.79–1.54; p=0.57; p for interaction=0.007). One thousand seven hundred fifty three infants who tested HIV-negative at baseline and had HIV testing during follow-up were included in the analysis for MTCT of HIV. No association was found between multivitamin supplements and MTCT of HIV.
Multivitamin supplements improve haematologic status among children born to HIV-positive women. Further trials focusing on anaemia among HIV-exposed children are warranted in the context of antiretroviral therapy.
multivitamins; haemoglobin; anaemia; mother-to-child transmission; randomized controlled trial; Tanzania
Little is known about people diagnosed as HIV-positive who access HIV care early in their disease. In pre-ART studies published to date, only a minority of the participants have CD4>500 cells/µl.
This cross-sectional study compared individuals presenting for HIV care with CD4>500 cells/µl, “pre-ART” (N=247), with individuals who had CD4<200 cells/µl or WHO Stage IV, “ART-eligible” (N=385). Baseline characteristics were contrasted between the two groups and logistic regression models used to explore group differences in: (a) being sexually active in the last month; (b) disclosure of HIV status to current partner; (c) knowing the HIV status of one's current partner; and (d) condom use at last sex.
Pre-ART and ART-eligible individuals were similar in terms of a wide range of socio-demographic characteristics. Controlling for gender, only current sexual behaviour and HIV-testing history were significantly different between ART groups. In multivariable models, participants in the pre-ART group were twice as likely to be sexually active in the last month, OR 2.06 95% CI (1.32, 3.21), and to know their partner's status, OR 1.95 (1.18, 3.22) compared to those in the ART-eligible group. Self-reported disclosure of HIV status to current sexual partner (71%), condom use at last sex (61%) and HIV concordancy within relationships were not significantly different between the two ART groups. Overall, 39% of the study participants reported knowing that they were in concordant HIV-positive relationships. Fifty-five percent of all participants reported not knowing their partner's HIV status, only half of whom reported using a condom at last sex. Pre-ART individuals were significantly less likely to have tested HIV-positive for the first time in the last year and to have tested for sickness-related reasons than the ART-eligible group.
Reported sexual risk behaviours by pre-ART individuals with CD4>500 cells/µl suggest a continued risk of onward HIV transmission. There is a need for positive prevention efforts to target this group given that current treatment guidelines do not provide them with ART. Strengthening support regarding disclosure, partner HIV testing and consistent condom use, and further promotion of HIV testing in the community to assist earlier diagnosis are urgently required.
AIDS; antiretroviral therapy; HIV; sexual risk behaviours; ART-eligible; pre-ART
With HIV-incidence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Bangkok among the highest in the world, a topical rectal microbicide would be a tremendous asset to prevention. Nevertheless, ubiquitous gaps between clinical trial efficacy and real-world effectiveness of existing HIV preventive interventions highlight the need to address multi-level factors that may impact on rectal microbicide implementation. We explored the social ecology of rectal microbicide acceptability among MSM and transgender women in Chiang Mai and Pattaya, Thailand.
We used a qualitative approach guided by a social ecological model. Five focus groups were conducted in Thai using a semi-structured interview guide. All interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim in Thai and translated into English. We conducted thematic analysis using line-by-line and axial coding and a constant comparative method. Transcripts and codes were uploaded into a customized database programmed in Microsoft Access. We then used content analysis to calculate theme frequencies by group, and Chi-square tests and Fisher's exact test to compare themes by sexual orientation/gender expression and age.
Participant's (n=37) mean age was 24.8 years (SD=4.2). The majority (70.3%) self-identified as gay, 24.3% transgender women. Product-level themes (side effects, formulation, efficacy, scent, etc.) accounted for 42%, individual (increased sexual risk, packaging/portability, timing/duration of protection) 29%, interpersonal (trust/communication, power/negotiation, stealth) 8% and social–structural (cost, access, community influence, stigma) 21% of total codes, with significant differences by sexual orientation/gender identity. The intersections of multi-level influences included product formulation and timing of use preferences contingent on interpersonal communication and partner type, in the context of constraints posed by stigma, venues for access and cost.
The intersecting influence of multi-level factors on rectal microbicide acceptability suggests that social–structural interventions to ensure widespread access, low cost and to mitigate stigma and discrimination against gay and other MSM and transgender women in the Thai health care system and broader society will support the effectiveness of rectal microbicides, in combination with other prevention technologies, in reducing HIV transmission. Education, outreach and small-group interventions that acknowledge differences between MSM and transgender women may support rectal microbicide implementation among most-at-risk populations in Thailand.
HIV prevention; rectal microbicide; acceptability of healthcare; social ecological model; gay men; transgender women; Thailand; qualitative research
Research investigating HIV, neurocognition and ageing is well developed using neuropsychometric or other quantitative approaches; however, little is known about individuals’ subjective experiences. The purpose of this article is to explore the experiences of men aged 50 and older who self-identify as having HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges. In particular, this study uses the Episodic Disability Framework (EDF) to explore participants’ perceptions regarding: 1) symptoms/impairments, difficulties with day-to-day activities, challenges with social inclusion and uncertainty; 2) ageing as related to their HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges, and 3) the episodic nature of their HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges.
This qualitative, interpretive study involved in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 12 men aged 50 years and older who self-identified as having HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges. Participants were recruited from a neurobehavioural research unit (NBRU) at a large hospital in Toronto, Canada. Data were analyzed thematically and with reference to the EDF.
Participants’ experiences reflected all concepts within the EDF to some extent. Difficulties with daily activities were diverse but were addressed using similar living strategies. Participants described challenges with work and social relationships resulting from neurocognitive challenges. Participants downplayed the significance of uncertainty in their lives, which they attributed to effective living strategies. Most men reported confusion regarding the link between their neurocognitive challenges and ageing. Others discussed ageing as an asset that helped with coping.
This is the first study to use a disability framework to examine the subjective experiences of men ageing with HIV-associated neurocognitive challenges. Findings reframe the episodic disability experienced by these individuals as being predictably linked to certain triggers. As such, support for managing neurocognitive challenges could focus on triggers that exacerbate the condition in addition to the impairments themselves. The study also describes ageing as not only a source of problems but also as an asset among men growing older with HIV.
AIDS; disability; rehabilitation; age; Poz-brain; HAND
HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa are generalized, but high-risk subgroups exist within these epidemics. A recent study among fisher-folk communities (FFC) in Uganda showed high HIV prevalence (28.8%) and incidence (4.9/100 person-years). However, those findings may not reflect population-wide HIV rates in FFC since the study population was selected for high-risk behaviour.
Between September 2011 and March 2013, we conducted a community-based cohort study to determine the population representative HIV rates and willingness to participate (WTP) in hypothetical vaccine trials among FFC, Uganda. At baseline (September 2011–January 2012), a household enumeration census was done in eight fishing communities (one lakeshore and seven islands), after which a random sample of 2200 participants aged 18–49 years was selected from 5360 individuals. Interviewer-administered questionnaire data were collected on HIV risk behaviours and WTP, and venous blood was collected for HIV testing using rapid HIV tests with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (EIA) confirmation. Adjusted prevalence proportion ratios (adj.PPRs) of HIV prevalence were determined using log-binomial regression models.
Overall baseline HIV prevalence was 26.7% and was higher in women than men (32.6% vs. 20.8%, p<0.0001). Prevalence was lower among fishermen (22.4%) than housewives (32.1%), farmers (33.1%) and bar/lodge/restaurant workers (37%). The adj.PPR of HIV was higher among women than men (adj.PPR =1.50, 95%; 1.20, 1.87) and participants aged 30–39 years (adj.PPR=1.40, 95%; 1.10, 1.79) and 40–49 years (adj.PPR=1.41, 95%; 1.04, 1.92) compared to those aged 18–24 years. Other factors associated with HIV prevalence included low education, previous marriage, polygamous marriage, alcohol and marijuana use before sex. WTP in hypothetical vaccine trials was 89.3% and was higher in men than women (91.2% vs. 87.3%, p=0.004) and among island communities compared to lakeshore ones (90.4% vs. 85.8%, p=0.004).
The HIV prevalence in the general fisher-folk population in Uganda is similar to that observed in the “high-risk” fisher folk. FFC have very high levels of willingness to participate in future HIV vaccine trials.
HIV-1; willingness to participate in HIV vaccine trials; fishing communities; Uganda
To investigate and synthesize reasons for low access, initiation and adherence to antiretroviral drugs by mothers and exposed babies for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
A systematic literature review was conducted. Four databases were searched (Medline, Embase, Global Health and Web of Science) for studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa from January 2000 to September 2012. Quantitative and qualitative studies were included that met pre-defined criteria. Antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis (maternal/infant) and combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) usage/registration at HIV care and treatment during pregnancy were included as outcomes.
Of 574 references identified, 40 met the inclusion criteria. Four references were added after searching reference lists of included articles. Twenty studies were quantitative, 16 were qualitative and eight were mixed methods. Forty-one studies were conducted in Southern and East Africa, two in West Africa, none in Central Africa and one was multi-regional. The majority (n=25) were conducted before combination ART for PMTCT was emphasized in 2006. At the individual-level, poor knowledge of HIV/ART/vertical transmission, lower maternal educational level and psychological issues following HIV diagnosis were the key barriers identified. Stigma and fear of status disclosure to partners, family or community members (community-level factors) were the most frequently cited barriers overall and across time. The extent of partner/community support was another major factor impeding or facilitating the uptake of PMTCT ARVs, while cultural traditions including preferences for traditional healers and birth attendants were also common. Key health-systems issues included poor staff-client interactions, staff shortages, service accessibility and non-facility deliveries.
Long-standing health-systems issues (such as staffing and service accessibility) and community-level factors (particularly stigma, fear of disclosure and lack of partner support) have not changed over time and continue to plague PMTCT programmes more than 10 years after their introduction. The potential of PMTCT programmes to virtually eliminate vertical transmission of HIV will remain elusive unless these barriers are tackled. The prominence of community-level factors in this review points to the importance of community-driven approaches to improve uptake of PMTCT interventions, although packages of solutions addressing barriers at different levels will be important.
HIV; vertical transmission; prevention; barriers; review; Africa
The TREAT Asia Quality Assessment Scheme (TAQAS) was developed as a quality assessment programme through expert education and training, for laboratories in the Asia-Pacific and Africa that perform HIV drug-resistance (HIVDR) genotyping. We evaluated the programme performance and factors associated with high-quality HIVDR genotyping.
Laboratories used their standard protocols to test panels of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive plasma samples or electropherograms. Protocols were documented and performance was evaluated according to a newly developed scoring system, agreement with panel-specific consensus sequence, and detection of drug-resistance mutations (DRMs) and mixtures of wild-type and resistant virus (mixtures). High-quality performance was defined as detection of ≥95% DRMs.
Over 4.5 years, 23 participating laboratories in 13 countries tested 45 samples (30 HIV-1 subtype B; 15 non-B subtypes) in nine panels. Median detection of DRMs was 88–98% in plasma panels and 90–97% in electropherogram panels. Laboratories were supported to amend and improve their test outcomes as appropriate. Three laboratories that detected <80% DRMs in early panels demonstrated subsequent improvement. Sample complexity factors – number of DRMs (p<0.001) and number of DRMs as mixtures (p<0.001); and laboratory performance factors – detection of mixtures (p<0.001) and agreement with consensus sequence (p<0.001), were associated with high performance; sample format (plasma or electropherogram), subtype and genotyping protocol were not.
High-quality HIVDR genotyping was achieved in the TAQAS collaborative laboratory network. Sample complexity and detection of mixtures were associated with performance quality. Laboratories conducting HIVDR genotyping are encouraged to participate in quality assessment programmes.
HIV; drug resistance; genotyping; quality assessment
Previous research on the use of personal lubricants for sexual intercourse is limited and has primarily focused on condom compatibility and breakage, with only recent limited assessment of lubricant safety and possible epidemiologic implications. This article discusses the global evidence of lubricant compatibility with latex condoms and biological safety of lubricants, as well as documentation of lubricant use and current guidelines for HIV prevention programming in Africa. Data on lubricant compatibility with condoms are less available than commonly realized, and many lubricant products may not have been thoroughly tested for safety due to flexible regulatory environments. Recent laboratory and study findings from microbicides research also suggest that some water-based lubricants may have safety issues. Some African populations are using several types of lubricants, especially oil-based petroleum jellies, and receive little evidence-based guidance. More research is needed from the medical community to guide prevention programming.
lubricants; condoms; HIV prevention; Africa
The female condom is the only evidence-based AIDS prevention technology that has been designed for the female body; yet, most women do not have access to it. This is remarkable since women constitute the majority of all HIV-positive people living in sub-Saharan Africa, and gender inequality is seen as a driving force of the AIDS epidemic. In this study, we analyze how major actors in the AIDS prevention field frame the AIDS problem, in particular the female condom in comparison to other prevention technologies, in their discourse and policy formulations. Our aim is to gain insight into the discursive power mechanisms that underlie the thinking about AIDS prevention and women’s sexual agency.
We analyze the AIDS policies of 16 agencies that constitute the most influential actors in the global response to AIDS. Our study unravels the discursive power of these global AIDS policy actors, when promoting and making choices between AIDS prevention technologies. We conducted both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of how the global AIDS epidemic is being addressed by them, in framing the AIDS problem, labelling of different categories of people for targeting AIDS prevention programmes and in gender marking of AIDS prevention technologies.
We found that global AIDS policy actors frame the AIDS problem predominantly in the context of gender and reproductive health, rather than that of sexuality and sexual rights. Men’s sexual agency is treated differently from women’s sexual agency. An example of such differentiation and of gender marking is shown by contrasting the framing and labelling of male circumcision as an intervention aimed at the prevention of HIV with that of the female condom.
The gender-stereotyped global AIDS policy discourse negates women’s agency in sexuality and their sexual rights. This could be an important factor in limiting the scale-up of female condom programmes and hampering universal access to female condoms.
global policy; AIDS prevention; gender; sexual agency; female condom
A severe healthcare worker shortage in sub-Saharan Africa is inhibiting the expansion of HIV treatment. Task shifting, the transfer of antiretroviral therapy (ART) management and initiation from doctors to nurses and other non-physician clinicians, has been proposed to address this problem. However, many health officials remain wary about implementing task shifting policies due to concerns that non-physicians will provide care inferior to physicians. To determine if non-physician-provided HIV care does result in equivalent outcomes to physician-provided care, a meta-analysis was performed.
Online databases were searched using a predefined strategy. The results for four primary outcomes were combined using a random effects model with sub-groups of non-physician-managed ART and -initiated ART. TB diagnosis rates, adherence, weight gain and patient satisfaction were summarized qualitatively.
Mortality (N=59,666) had similar outcomes for non-physicians and physicians, with a hazard ratio of 1.05 (CI: 0.88–1.26). The increase in CD4 levels at one year, as a difference in means of 2.3 (N=17,142, CI: −12.7–17.3), and viral failure at one year, as a risk ratio of 0.89 (N=10,344, CI: 0.65–1.23), were similar for physicians and non-physicians. Interestingly, loss to follow-up (LTFU) (N=53,435) was reduced for non-physicians with a hazard ratio of 0.72 (CI: 0.56–0.94). TB diagnosis rates, adherence and weight gain were similar for non-physicians and physicians. Patient satisfaction appeared higher for non-physicians in qualitative components of studies and was attributed to non-physicians spending more time with patients as well as providing more holistic care.
Non-physician-provided HIV care results in equivalent outcomes to care provided by physicians and may result in decreased LTFU rates.
task shifting; antiretroviral therapy; ART; non-physician; HIV treatment; substitution of physicians