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1.  Modulation of Regulatory T-Cell Subsets in Very Long-Term Treated Aviremic HIV+ Patients and Untreated Viremic Patients 
The Open AIDS Journal  2014;8:1-6.
Naïve, central- and effector-like memory regulatory T cells (Tregs) were evaluated in untreated and long-term antiretroviral-treated HIV+ patients that showed comparable CD4+ cell levels, while being, respectively, viremic and aviremic. In the untreated patients, the percentage of naïve-like Tregs was significantly increased to the detriment of central memory regulatory T cells. This redistribution of regulatory Treg subsets may contribute to explain the partially preserved CD4+ cell counts seen in these patients despite the ongoing viremia. On the contrary, in the long-term treated patients, the percentages of Treg subsets were similar to those of healthy donors, demonstrating a restored Treg homeostasis. The characterization of Treg subsets, rather than an evaluation of the total Treg population, may lead to a deeper understanding of the Treg role in HIV infection and therapy.
PMCID: PMC3952203  PMID: 24627733
HIV; regulatory T cells; combined antiretroviral therapy.
2.  Factors Associated with Uptake of HIV Test Results in a Nationally Representative Population-Based AIDS Indicator Survey 
The Open AIDS Journal  2014;8:7-16.
Population-based surveys with HIV testing in settings with low testing coverage provide opportunities for participants to learn their HIV status. Survey participants (15-64 years) in a 2007 nationally representative population-based HIV serologic survey in Kenya received a voucher to collect HIV test results at health facilities 6 weeks after blood draw. Logistic regression models were fitted to identify predictors of individual and couple collection of results. Of 15,853 adults consenting to blood draw, 7,222 (46.7%) collected HIV test results (46.5% men, 46.8% women). A third (39.5%) of HIV-infected adults who were unaware of their infection and 48.2% of those who had never been tested learned their HIV status during KAIS. Individual collection of HIV results was associated with older age, with the highest odds among adults aged 60-64 years (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-2.1); rural residence (AOR 1.8, 95%CI 1.2-2.6); and residence outside Nairobi, with the highest odds in the sparsely populated North Eastern province (AOR 8.0, 95%CI 2.9-21.8). Of 2,685 married/cohabiting couples, 18.5% collected results as a couple. Couples in Eastern province and in the second and middle wealth quintiles were more likely to collect results than those in Nairobi (AOR 3.2, 95%CI 1.1-9.4) and the lowest wealth quintile (second AOR 1.5, 95%CI 1.1-2.3; middle AOR 1.6, 95% CI 1.2-2.3, respectively. Many participants including those living with HIV learned their HIV status in KAIS. Future surveys need to address low uptake of results among youth, urban residents, couples and those with undiagnosed HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3975632  PMID: 24707325
AIDS indicator survey; HIV; HIV test results; Kenya; population-based.
3.  Short Text Messages to Motivate HIV Testing Among Men Who have Sex with Men: A Qualitative Study in Lima, Peru 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:1-6.
The objective of this study is to identify features and content that short message service (SMS) should have in order to motivate HIV testing among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Lima, Peru.
From October, 2010 to February, 2011, we conducted focus groups at two stages; six focus groups were conducted to explore and identify SMS content and features and two additional focus groups were conducted to tailor SMS content. The text messages were elaborated within the theoretical framework of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills model and the Social Support Theory.
A total of 62 individuals participated in the focus groups. The mean age of participants was 28 years (range 18-39). We identified important features and content items needed for the successful delivery of text messages, including: a) the use of neutral and coded language; b) appropriate frequency and time of delivery; c) avoiding mass and repetitive messages; and d) use of short, concise and creative messages. Although in Peru receiving text messages is usually a free service, it is important to remind participants that receiving messages will be free of charge.
Text messages can be used to promote HIV testing among Peruvian MSM. It is important to consider adequate frequency, message content and cost when delivering messages to promote HIV testing in this population.
PMCID: PMC3680995  PMID: 23802032
Cellular phone; men who have sex with men; HIV prevention; HIV testing; risk behaviors; text messaging.
4.  Delay in Seeking Care for Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Young Men and Women Attending a Public STD Clinic 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:7-13.
Delay in seeking care for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) has adverse consequences for both the individual and population. We sought to identify factors associated with delay in seeking care for STDs.
Subjects included 300 young men and women (aged 15-24) attending an urban STD clinic for a new STD-related problem due to symptoms or referral for an STD screening. Subjects completed a structured interview that evaluated STD history, attitudes and beliefs about STDs, depression, substance use, and other factors possibly associated with delay. Delay was defined as waiting > 7 days to seek and obtain care for STDs.
Nearly one-third of participants delayed seeking care for > 7 days. Significant predictors for delay included self-referral for symptoms as the reason for visit (OR 5.3, 95% CI: 2.58 – 10.98), and the beliefs “my partner would blame me if I had an STD” (OR 2.44, 95% CI: 1.30 – 4.60) and “it’s hard to find time to get checked for STDs” (OR 3.62, 95% CI: 1.95 – 6.69), after adjusting for age, race, sex, and other factors. Agreeing with the statement “would use a STD test at home if one were available” was associated with a decrease in delay (OR 0.24, 95% CI: 0.09 – 0.60).
Many young persons delay seeking care for STDs for a number of reasons. Strategies to improve STD care-seeking include encouragement of symptomatic persons to seek medical care more rapidly, reduction of social stigmas, and improved access to testing options.
PMCID: PMC3785038  PMID: 24078858
Delay; healthcare-seeking behavior; men; sexually transmitted diseases; symptoms; women.
5.  Do Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) in the United States Understand that HIV Serodiscordance is Possible? 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:14-16.
Little is currently known about the extent to which US MSM understand the possibility that a long-term sex partner can have an HIV status different than one’s own status. This information is important in the adaptation of Couples Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing (CVCT) for US MSM.
428 US MSM completed an online survey using from March-April, 2009.
Of 426 MSM with complete data, 21.1% (90) were not definitively aware that serodiscordance is possible. Factors associated with a lack of understanding that serodiscordance is possible were: never having tested for HIV (OR: 2.0; CI: 1.1, 3.8), compared to testing 0-6 months previously and having a high school education or less (OR: 2.2; CI: 1.1, 4.5), compared to men who had completed at least some college.
A large proportion of young, internet-using MSM in the United States may not understand that HIV serodiscordance is possible within sexual partnerships. Based on these results, we recommend that CVCT provided to male couples in the United States should include education on HIV serodiscordance.
PMCID: PMC3795399  PMID: 24133557
CVCT; HIV knowledge; HIV serodiscordance; HIV/AIDS; epidemiology.
6.  mHealth for HIV Treatment & Prevention: A Systematic Review of the Literature 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:17-41.
This systematic review assesses the published literature to describe the landscape of mobile health technology (mHealth) for HIV/AIDS and the evidence supporting the use of these tools to address the HIV prevention, care, and treatment cascade. The speed of innovation, broad range of initiatives and tools, and heterogeneity in reporting have made it difficult to uncover and synthesize knowledge on how mHealth tools might be effective in addressing the HIV pandemic.
To do address this gap, a team of reviewers collected literature on the use of mobile technology for HIV/AIDS among health, engineering, and social science literature databases and analyzed a final set of 62 articles. Articles were systematically coded, assessed for scientific rigor, and sorted for HIV programmatic relevance. The review revealed evidence that mHealth tools support HIV programmatic priorities, including: linkage to care, retention in care, and adherence to antiretroviral treatment. In terms of technical features, mHealth tools facilitate alerts and reminders, data collection, direct voice communication, educational messaging, information on demand, and more. Studies were mostly descriptive with a growing number of quasi-experimental and experimental designs. There was a lack of evidence around the use of mHealth tools to address the needs of key populations, including pregnant mothers, sex workers, users of injection drugs, and men who have sex with men.
The science and practice of mHealth for HIV are evolving rapidly, but still in their early stages. Small-scale efforts, pilot projects, and preliminary descriptive studies are advancing and there is a promising trend toward implementing mHealth innovation that is feasible and acceptable within low-resource settings, positive program outcomes, operational improvements, and rigorous study design
PMCID: PMC3795408  PMID: 24133558
HIV Treatment; HIV Prevention; information technology; mobile phone; mHealth.
7.  An Ecological View of Internet Health Information Seeking Behavior Predictors: Findings from the CHAIN Study 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:42-46.
The purpose of the study was to further elucidate proximal and distal demographic and social predictors of Internet Health Information Seeking Behavior (IHISB) among a cohort of HIV+ individuals through an ecological framework.
The Community Health Advisory & Information Network (CHAIN) project is an ongoing prospective study of a representative sample of persons living with HIV/AIDS in New York City and the Tri-County region. The study sample was drawn from a two-stage randomized technique with the clients of 43 medical and social service organizations with 693 HIV+ participants. Bivariate correlations were computed between IHISB and independent demographic variables in ecological blocks. Multivariate hierarchical logistic regression was used to test association between blocks of variables and IHISB.
Among the surveyed respondents (n=645) 50.3% indicated that they used the Internet. Being above the poverty line, having less than a high school education, and having fewer neighbors were statistically significant predictors of IHISB related to HIV.
The benefits of accessing the Internet may influence health behavior and may be considered a target for interventions that aim to increase access to health related information online. Coupled with increased access, is the need for increased patient education interventions, and creative managed care approaches to ensure that information gleaned from online sources is interpretable and accurate in order to benefit the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS.
PMCID: PMC3821080  PMID: 24222812
Internet health information seeking behavior; PLWHA; HIV/AIDS; ecological model.
8.  The Higher Frequency of Blood Group B in a Brazilian Population with HIV Infection 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:47-50.
To analyze the frequency of and odds for and against HIV infection based on ABO blood type in a large sample of blood donors.
Coevolution between pathogens and hosts may explain the ABO system of polymorphisms. HIV-infected cells add ABO(H) blood group antigens to the viral envelope. Naturally occurring antibodies against ABO(H) antigens that are present in normal human sera are able to neutralize ABO-expressing HIV in vitro. Blood donors are ideal for studying blood groups and HIV infection in vivo because all donors are routinely typed and tested.
All blood donors who donated blood between 1994 and 2010 were tested for HIV (ELISA antibody tests and Western blot test or immunofluorescence testing) and were ABO typed (direct and reverse grouping tests). HIV infection based on the ABO blood group was analyzed using the chi-square test and game theory.
The total number of examined blood donors during this period was 271,410, of whom 389 were infected with HIV. B-group donors were more infected than non-B donors (p= 0.006).
A more restricted antigen recognition capacity of anti-Galα1-3Gal in blood groups AB and B and a weaker antigen-binding capacity of anti-A antibodies may contribute to a higher frequency of HIV infection in blood group B.
PMCID: PMC3821096  PMID: 24222813
HIV; ABO blood group; Galα1; 3-Gal; antibodies; polymorphism.
9.  Older Adults with HIV/AIDS in Rural China 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:51-57.
Although the number of older people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) has increased substantially, few studies have focused on older PLWHA in developing countries. Based on a sample of 866 rural PLWHA in Henan, Anhui and Yunnan provinces in China, this study compares the characteristics of PLWHA aged 50 or older (n=185) with younger PLWHA (n=681). Most of the older PLWHA were female (n=112), illiterate, married and at the clinical stage of HIV. Over 90% of older people with HIV/AIDS lived in Henan and Anhui provinces. The severe epidemic in Henan and Anhui provinces was caused by commercial blood and plasma donation. Older PLWHA were less educated, received less social support and were more likely to live alone than younger PLWHA. The results underline the importance of developing programs and policy initiatives targeted at older people infected with HIV/AIDS. The policy and program recommendations include using a gender sensitive strategy, designing specific AIDS education and prevention programs suitable for low-literacy older adults and social support interventions for older PLWHA.
PMCID: PMC3893720  PMID: 24454590
Asia; HIV/AIDS; human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; older adults; older people; rural China.
10.  Cervical HPV Infection in Female Sex Workers: A Global Perspective 
The Open AIDS Journal  2013;7:58-66.
Approximately 291 million women worldwide are HPV DNA carriers. Studies have indicated that having multiple sexual partners may lead to higher HPV transmission. Thus female sex workers (FSWs) may be at greater risk of infection compared to the general population. Herein we review publications with data on FSW cervical HPV test results. We also examine variations of HPV prevalence and risk behaviors by region. Knowledge of prevalent HPV types in FSWs may lead to improved prevention measures and assist in understanding vaccination in high-risk groups.
We conducted a review of the literature by searching PUBMED using the terms “prostitution” or “female sex workers”, “human papillomavirus” or “HPV”, and “prevalence” or “PCR” to find articles. We excluded studies without HPV testing or HPV type specific results, or unconventional HPV testing.
A total of 35 peer-reviewed publications were included in our review. High risk HPV types 16 and 18 ranged from 1.1-38.9‰ in prevalence. In addition to high-risk HPV types, newer studies reported non-carcinogenic HPV types also of high prevalence. The most prevalent HPV types reported among FSWs included HPV 6 (11.5%), 16 (38.9%), 18 (23.1%), 31 (28.4%), 52 (32.7%), and 58 (26.0%).
Female sex workers have an overall high prevalence of HPV infection of high-risk types as evident through various testing methods. FSWs are thought to be at increased risk of cervical cancer because of high HPV exposure. This highlights the need for HPV and cervical prevention campaigns tailored to FSWs.
PMCID: PMC3915319  PMID: 24511334
Female sex workers; genotype; HPV; PCR; prevalence; prostitution.
11.  Partner Referral by HIV-Infected Persons to Partner Counseling and Referral Services (PCRS) - Results from a Demonstration Project 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:8-15.
The objectives of this article are to determine factors associated with refusal and agreement to provide partner information, and evaluate the effectiveness of referral approaches in offering PCRS.
Index clients from 5 sites that used 3 different PCRS approaches were interviewed to obtain demographic and risk characteristics and choice of partner referral method for PCRS. Logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with providing partner information.
The percentage of index clients who refused to provide partner information varied by site (7% to 88%). Controlling for PCRS approach, index clients who were older than 25 years, male, or reported having male-male sex in the past 12 months were more likely (p <0.01) to refuse to provide partner information. Overall, 72% of named partners referred by index clients were located and offered PCRS. The proportion of partners who were located and offered PCRS differed by referral approach used, ranging from 38% using contract referral (index clients agree to notify their partners within a certain timeframe, else a disease intervention specialist or health care provider will notify them) to 98% using dual referral (index clients notify their partners with a disease intervention specialist or provider present).
Success in obtaining partner information varied by the PCRS approach used and effectiveness in locating and notifying partners varied by the referral approach selected. These results provide valuable insights for enhancing partner services.
PMCID: PMC3286837  PMID: 22408699
HIV; index clients; partners; partner counseling and referral services; risk behaviors; referral.
12.  A County-Level Examination of the Relationship Between HIV and Social Determinants of Health: 40 States, 2006-2008 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:1-7.
Social determinants of health (SDH) are the social and physical factors that can influence unhealthy or risky behavior. Social determinants of health can affect the chances of acquiring an infectious disease – such as HIV – through behavioral influences and limited preventative and healthcare access. We analyzed the relationship between social determinants of health and HIV diagnosis rates to better understand the disparity in rates between different populations in the United States.
Using National HIV Surveillance data and American Community Survey data at the county level, we examined the relationships between social determinants of health variables (e.g., proportion of whites, income inequality) and HIV diagnosis rates (averaged for 2006-2008) among adults and adolescents from 40 states with mature name-based HIV surveillance.
Analysis of data from 1,560 counties showed a significant, positive correlation between HIV diagnosis rates and income inequality (Pearson correlation coefficient ρ = 0.40) and proportion unmarried – ages >15 (ρ = 0.52). There was a significant, negative correlation between proportion of whites and rates (ρ = -0.67). Correlations were low between racespecific social determinants of health indicators and rates.
Overall, HIV diagnosis rates increased as income inequality and the proportion unmarried increased, and rates decreased as proportion of whites increased. The data reflect the higher HIV prevalence among non-whites. Although statistical correlations were moderate, identifying and understanding these social determinants of health variables can help target prevention efforts to aid in reducing HIV diagnosis rates. Future analyses need to determine whether the higher proportion of singles reflects higher populations of gay and bisexual men.
PMCID: PMC3286852  PMID: 22408698
HIV; social determinants of health; income inequality; proportion unmarried; non-whites; county level.
13.  Immune Reconstitution During the First Year of Antiretroviral Therapy of HIV-1-Infected Adults in Rural Burkina Faso 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:16-25.
There are no data on the outcome of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV-infected adults in rural Burkina Faso. We therefore assessed CD4+ T-cell counts and HIV-1 plasma viral load (VL), the proportion of naive T-cells (co-expressing CCR7 and CD45RA) and T-cell activation (expression of CD95 or CD38) in 61 previously untreated adult patients from Nouna, Burkina Faso, at baseline and 2 weeks, 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after starting therapy. Median CD4+ T-cell counts increased from 174 (10th-90th percentile: 33-314) cells/µl at baseline to 300 (114- 505) cells/µl after 3 months and 360 (169-562) cells/µl after 12 months of HAART. Median VL decreased from 5.8 (4.6- 6.6) log10 copies/ml at baseline to 1.6 (1.6-2.3) log10 copies/ml after 12 months. Early CD4+ T-cell recovery was accompanied by a reduction of the expression levels of CD95 and CD38 on T-cells. Out of 42 patients with complete virological follow-up under HAART, 19 (45%) achieved concordant good immunological (gain of ≥100 CD4+ T-cells/µl above baseline) and virological (undetectable VL) responses after 12 months of treatment (intention-to-treat analysis). Neither a decreased expression of the T-cell activation markers CD38 and CD95, nor an increase in the percentage of naive T-cells reliably predicted good virological treatment responses in patients with good CD4+ T-cell reconstitution. Repeated measurement of CD4+ T-cell counts during HAART remains the most important parameter for immunologic monitoring. Substitution of repeated VL testing by determination of T-cell activation levels (e.g., CD38 expression on CD8+ T-cells) should be applied with caution.
PMCID: PMC3308207  PMID: 22435082
Africa; CD95; HAART; HIV; T-cell activation.
14.  HIV Transmission Rates in the United States, 2006-2008 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:26-28.
National HIV incidence for a given year x [I(x)] equals prevalence [P(x)] times the transmission rate [T(x)]. Or, simply rearranging the terms, T(x) = [I(x)/P(x)]*100 (where T(x) is the number of HIV transmissions per 100 persons living with HIV in a given year). The transmission rate is an underutilized measure of the speed at which the epidemic is spreading. Here, we utilize recently updated information about HIV incidence and prevalence in the U.S. to estimate the national HIV transmission rate for 2006 through 2008, and present a novel method to express the level of uncertainty in these estimates. Transmission rate estimates for 2006 through 2008 are as follows (respectively): 4.39 (4.01 to 4.73); 4.90 (4.49 to 5.28); and 4.06 (3.70 to 4.38). Although there are methodological challenges inherent in making these estimates, they do give some indications that the U.S. HIV transmission rate is at a historically low level.
PMCID: PMC3319908  PMID: 22496716
HIV; transmission rate; epidemiology; mathematical modeling; United States; evaluation.
15.  Cardiovascular Disease in Blacks with HIV/AIDS in the United States: A Systematic Review of the Literature 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:29-35.
Blacks in the United States bear a disproportionate burden of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). It has been demonstrated that HIV/AIDS itself and HIV/AIDS-related therapies may predispose patients to early onset of CVD. It is also possible that Black patients may be at greater risk for this interaction. Thus, the objective of this literature review was to identify and critically evaluate disparities in CVD between Black and White patients with HIV/AIDS.
A MEDLINE search (January 1, 1950 to May 31, 2010) was performed to identify original research articles published in the English language. The search was limited to articles that evaluated race-based disparities for CVD among patients with HIV/AIDS.
Of the five publications included in this review, a CVD diagnosis was the primary focus for only three of the studies and was a secondary objective for the remaining two studies. Two studies concluded that Blacks were more likely than Whites to have a CVD diagnosis at time of hospital admission, whereas, the other three studies did not detect any race-based disparities.
Few studies have addressed the issue of Black race, HIV/AIDS, and CVD, highlighting the need for future research in this area.
PMCID: PMC3343316  PMID: 22563364
AIDS; cardiovascular disease; diagnosis; disparities; HIV; race.
16.  Very Early Anthropometric Changes After Antiretroviral Therapy Predict Subsequent Survival, in Karonga, Malawi 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:36-44.
Antiretroviral (ART) scale-up in Malawi has been achieved on a large scale based mainly on clinical criteria. Simple markers of prognosis are useful, and we investigated the value of very early anthropometric changes in predicting mortality.
Principal findings: Adult patients who initiated ART in Karonga District, northern Malawi, between September 2005 and August 2006 were included in a prospective cohort study, and followed for up to one year. We used Cox regression to examine the association between anthropometric changes at 2 and 6 weeks and deaths within the first year.
573 patients were included, of whom 59% were women; the median age at initiation was 37 and 64% were in WHO stage 4. Both body mass index (BMI) and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) increased linearly with increased time on ART, and were closely correlated with each other. There were 118 deaths. After 2 weeks on ART, a BMI increase of <0.5 kg/m2 (HR 2.47, 95%CI 1.24-4.94, p=0.005) or a MUAC increase of <0.5cm (HR 2.79, 95%CI 1.19-6.55, p=0.008) were strong predictors of death, and these associations were stronger after adjusting for baseline charactertistics. Similar results were found after 6 weeks on ART.
Very early anthropometric changes, after 2 and 6 weeks on ART, are strong predictors of survival, independent of baseline characteristics. This should help identify patients requiring more detailed assessment where facilities are limited. MUAC is particularly valuable, requiring the simplest equipment and being appropriate for patients who have problems standing.
PMCID: PMC3367299  PMID: 22670166
Anthropometric measure; antiretroviral therapy; HIV; Mortality; sub-Saharan Africa.
17.  Mean Corpuscular Volume as a Marker for Adherence to Zidovudine-Containing Therapy in HIV-Infected Adults 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:45-52.
To assess whether mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is useful in detecting non-adherence to AZTcontaining therapy.
Observational study within randomised controlled trial.
We combined data from two treatment arms in SPARTAC, an RCT of short-course cART in primary HIV infection, classifying participants as responders (HIV-RNA decrease ≥1 log10 or reaching <400copies/ml) or nonresponders following cART initiation. We assessed the sensitivity and specificity of using different percentage increases in MCV for accurately differentiating between responders and non-responders. We further examined changes in MCV levels up to 24 weeks after protocol-indicated cART cessation.
Of 119 participants included in this analysis, 73 (61%) were women, 71 of whom were randomised in Africa. Ninety-eight (88%) and 84 (85%) were classified as responders at 4 and 12 weeks respectively following cART initiation. MCV increased by a mean 3% and 1% at week 4, and 14% and <1% at 12 weeks for responders and non-responders. A 2% MCV increase at 4 weeks had 62% sensitivity and specificity for identifying virological response. At 12 weeks, an 8% increase had 89% sensitivity and specificity. In responders, MCV remained lower for individuals in African compared to non-African sites throughout and rose from 85 vs 90 fL at cART start to 96 vs 103 fL at 12 weeks post-initiation then fell to 88 vs 93 fL and 86 vs 89 fL at 12 and 48 weeks post-cessation.
In low-income countries, where HIV RNA may be unavailable, 12-weekly MCV measurements may be useful in monitoring adherence to AZT-containing regimens.
PMCID: PMC3377889  PMID: 22715353
HIV; MCV; adherence; anti-HIV therapy; low-income countries; HIV RNA.
18.  Differences and Similarities in HIV Testing Among Men Who have Sex with Men and Women (MSMW) and Men Who Have Sex with Men Only (MSMO) 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:53-59.
The study examined differences in HIV testing between men who have sex with men only (MSMO) (n=300) and men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) (n=105) and assessed associations with HIV testing among MSMW. A venue-based cross-sectional HIV surveillance study in 2008 (BESURE-MSM2) was examined. Prevalence of HIV testing was similar for MSMO and MSMW. One-on-one counseling (excluding counseling that is part of HIV testing) and having seen a health care provider in the past twelve months were associated with HIV testing in the past six months among MSMW in multivariate analyses. One-on-one counseling interventions may increase rates of HIV testing among MSMW.
PMCID: PMC3401883  PMID: 22833774
HIV counseling; HIV testing; men who have sex with men and women.
19.  Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Hepatitis C in a Survey of Female Sex Workers in the North-East of Italy 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:60-64.
A key issue in the prevention and control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) is to provide access to health centres, and in diagnosing and treating STD. The present study is aimed to assess the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in a population of immigrant female sex workers (FSWs). We conducted a cross sectional survey of FSWs working in Verona, North-eastern Italy. Screening test included serology for STDs [including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), syphilis and Hepatitis B virus (HBV)] and hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Sixteen out of 345 (4.6%) street FSWs screened during 1999-2007 resulted positive for HIV, 12 (3.5%) were positive for HBsAg, 7 (2.0%) were positive for syphilis serological test, and 3 (0.9%) were positive for HCV. Comparison of the prevalence data between women from Africa (286/345, 82.8%) and other countries showed no statistical difference for HIV infection (R.R. 1.44; 95% CI, 0.34-6.19) and for presence of HBsAg (R.R. 2.27; 95% CI, 0.30-17.24). The positivity of syphilis serologic tests had a lower prevalence among African FSWs (mostly coming from Nigeria) than among FSWs from Eastern Europe (57/345, 16.5%). This difference was statistically significant (R.R. 0.03; 95% CI, 0.00-0.28). The prevalence of HIV infection increased with age (p=0.04, by chi2 for trend analysis), but not with the time worked as sex workers in Italy. Moreover, the presence of any of the screened infections was predictable by both age and earlier time of immigration by way of logistic multivariable regression.
The prevalence of HIV and HBsAg was higher in the whole analyzed cohort compared to the general population; prevalence of syphilis was significantly higher in FSWs from Eastern Europe than in FSWs from Africa. HCV prevalence remains low among non intravenous drug abuser FSWs. The data offers a starting point to address targeted intervention that would prevent FSWs acquiring and transmitting STDs.
PMCID: PMC3401890  PMID: 22833775
Prostitution; sexually transmitted diseases; HIV.
20.  Regional Differences Among HIV Patients in Care: California Medical Monitoring Project Sites, 2007-2008 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6():188-195.
The Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) is a national, multi-site population-based supplemental HIV/AIDS surveillance project of persons receiving HIV/AIDS care. We compared California MMP data by region. Demographic characteristics, medical care experiences, HIV treatment, clinical care outcomes, and need for support services are described.
HIV-infected patients 18 years or older were randomly selected from medical care facilities. In person structured interviews from 2007 - 2008 were used to assess sociodemographic characteristics, self-reported clinical outcomes, and need for supportive services. Pearson chi-squared, Fisher’s exact and Kruskal-Wallis p-values were calculated to compare regional differences.
Between 2007 and 2008, 899 people were interviewed: 329 (37%) in San Francisco (SF), 333 (37%) in Los Angeles (LA) and 237 (26%) in other California counties. Significant regional sociodemographic differences were found. Care received and clinical outcomes for patients in MMP were positive and few regional differences were identified. HIV case management (36%), mental health counseling (35%), and dental services (29%) were the supportive services patients most frequently needed. Unmet needs for supportive services were low overall. Significant differences by region in needed and unmet need services were identified.
The majority of MMP respondents reported standard of care CD4 and viral load monitoring, high treatment use, undetectable HIV viral loads and CD4 counts indicative of good immune function and treatment efficacy. Information from MMP can be used by planning councils, policymakers, and HIV care providers to improve access to care and prevention. Identifying regional differences can facilitate sharing of best practices among health jurisdictions.
PMCID: PMC3462328  PMID: 23049669
HIV care; medical monitoring project; HIV surveillance; California.
21.  Population-Based Study of Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease Among HIV-Infected Persons 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:177-180.
Preventing coronary heart disease (CHD) is critical to further extending survival among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons. Previously published findings of CHD risk factors in HIV-infected persons have been derived from facility-based cohort studies, which have limited representativeness for the HIV-infected population. State-specific, population-based surveillance data can assist health care providers and public health agencies in planning and evaluating programs that reduce CHD among HIV-infected persons. We describe CHD risk factors from the 2007-2008 Oregon Medical Monitoring Project, a population-based survey of HIV-infected persons receiving care that included both patient interview and medical record review. Among the 539 HIV-infected patients interviewed, the mean age was 45.5 years. Diagnoses from the medical record associated with CHD risk included preexisting CHD (5%), diabetes (11%), and hypertension (28%). Current smoking was reported by 46%; college graduates were less likely to smoke compared with those with lesser education (21% versus 53%, respectively; P <.0001). Obesity was present among 17%. Among the 65% of the survey group with lipid values available, 55% had high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) <40 mg/dL and 42% had triglycerides ≥ 200 mg/dL. Among the 15% of the survey group with either preexisting CHD or diabetes, 42% had a non-HDL <130 mg/dL (target goal) and 38% smoked. Risk factors for CHD among HIVinfected persons, particularly smoking and dyslipidemia, should be managed aggressively. Ongoing surveillance is warranted to monitor changes in CHD risk factors in the HIV-infected population.
PMCID: PMC3462329  PMID: 23049667
Human immunodeficiency virus; coronary disease; risk factors; smoking; dyslipidemias.
22.  Prevalence of and Viral Outcomes Associated with Primary HIV-1 Drug Resistance 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:181-187.
Primary, or transmitted, HIV antiretroviral resistance is an ongoing concern despite continuing development of new antiretroviral therapies. We examined HIV surveillance data, including both patient demographic characteristics and laboratory data, combined with HIV genotypic test results to evaluate the comprehensiveness of drug resistance surveillance, prevalence of primary drug resistance, and impact, if any, of primary resistance on population-based virological outcomes. The King County, WA Variant, Atypical, and Resistant HIV Surveillance (VARHS) system increased coverage of eligible genotypic testing – within three months of an HIV diagnosis among antiretroviral naïve individuals -- from – 15% in 2003 to 69% in 2010. VARHS under-represented females, Blacks, Native Americans, and injection drug users. Primary drug resistance was more common among males, individuals aged 20 – 29 years, men who had sex with men, and individuals with an initial CD4+ lymphocyte count of 200 cells/µL and higher. High level resistance to two or three antiretroviral classes declined over time. Over 90% of sequences were HIV-1 subtype B. The proportion of individuals with a most recent viral load (closest to April 2011) that was undetectable (<50 copies/mL) was not statistically significantly associated with primary drug resistance. This was true for both number and type of antiretroviral drug class; although small numbers of specimens with drug resistance may have limited our statistical power. In summary, although we found disparities in testing coverage and prevalence of drug resistance, we were unable to detect a significantly deleterious impact of primary drug resistance based on a most recent viral load.
PMCID: PMC3462330  PMID: 23049668
HIV-1; HIV transmitted drug resistance; HIV drug resistance surveillance; HIV viral load.
23.  Describing the Chinese HIV Surveillance System and the Influences of Political Structures and Social Stigma 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:163-168.
China’s public health surveillance system for HIV was established in late 1980s and has evolved significantly during the past three decades. With the gradually changing mode of HIV transmission from sharing of intravenous injecting equipment to sexual exposure and the rapid spread of HIV infection among Chinese homosexual men in recent years, an efficient and comprehensive population-level surveillance system for describing epidemics trends and risk behaviours associated with HIV acquisition are essential for effective public health interventions for HIV. The current review describes the overall strength of the Chinese HIV surveillance system and its structural weaknesses from a political and social perspective. The HIV surveillance system in China has undergone substantial revamping leading to a comprehensive, timely and efficient reporting system. However, large data gaps and lack of quality control and sharing of information obstruct the full performance of the system. This is largely due to fragmented authoritarianism brought about by the underlying political structure. Social stigma and discrimination in health institutes are also key barriers for further improvements of HIV diagnosis and surveillance in China.
PMCID: PMC3462331  PMID: 23049665
HIV surveillance; political structure; fragmented authoritarianism; social stigma; China.
24.  Assessing the Assumptions of Respondent-Driven Sampling in the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System among Injecting Drug Users 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:77-82.
Several assumptions determine whether respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is an appropriate sampling method to use with a particular group, including the population being recruited must know one another as members of the group (i.e., injection drug users [IDUs] must know each other as IDUs) and be networked and that the sample size is small relative to the overall size of the group. To assess these three assumptions, we analyzed city-specific data collected using RDS through the US National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System among IDUs in 23 cities. Overall, 5% of non-seed participants reported that their recruiter was “a stranger.” 20 cities with multiple field sites had ≥1 cross-recruitment, a proxy for linked networks. Sample sizes were small in relation to the IDU population size (median = 2.3%; range: 0.6%- 8.0%). Researchers must evaluate whether these three assumptions were met to justify the basis for using RDS to sample specific populations.
PMCID: PMC3462332  PMID: 23049656
HIV; respondent-driven sampling; injection drug use; behavioral surveillance.
25.  Using HIV Surveillance Data to Monitor Missed Opportunities for Linkage and Engagement in HIV Medical Care 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:131-141.
Monitoring delayed entry to HIV medical care is needed because it signifies that opportunities to prevent HIV transmission and mitigate disease progression have been missed. A central question for population-level monitoring is whether to consider a person linked to care after receipt of one CD4 or VL test. Using HIV surveillance data, we explored two definitions for estimating the number of HIV-diagnosed persons not linked to HIV medical care. We used receipt of at least one CD4 or VL test (definition 1) and two or more CD4 or VL tests (definition 2) to define linkage to care within 12 months and within 42 months of HIV diagnosis. In five jurisdictions, persons diagnosed from 12/2006-12/2008 who had not died or moved away and who had zero, or less than two reported CD4 or VL tests by 7/31/2010 were considered not linked to care under definitions 1 and 2, respectively. Among 13,600 persons followed up for 19-42 months; 1,732 (13%) had no reported CD4 or VL tests; 2,332 persons (17%) had only one CD4 or VL test and 9,536 persons (70%) had two or more CD4 or VL tests. To summarize, after more than 19 months, 30% of persons diagnosed with HIV had less than two CD4 or VL tests; more than half of them were considered to have entered care if entering care is defined as having one CD4 or VL test. Defining linkage to care as a single CD4 or VL may overestimate entry into care, particularly for certain subgroups.
PMCID: PMC3462334  PMID: 23049661
Defining indicators; describing care patterns; HIV; surveillance; linkage to care.

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