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1.  Cost of HAART in Italy: multicentric evaluation and determinants from a large HIV outpatient cohort 
Background
As HIV infection turned into a chronic treatable disease, now ranking as one of the most costly in medicine, long-term sustainability of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) expenses became a major issue, especially in countries with universal access to care. Identification of determinants of higher HAART costs may therefore help in controlling costs of care, while keeping high levels of retention in care and viral suppression.
Methods
With this aim, we enrolled a large multicentric sample of consecutive unselected human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients followed at five sites of care in Italy, and evaluated annual individual HAART costs in relation to a number of sociodemographic, clinical, and laboratory variables.
Results
We enrolled 2,044 patients, including 1,902 on HAART. Mean HAART costs were €9,377±€3,501 (range 782–29,852) per year, with remarkable site-based differences, possibly related to the different composition of local assisted populations. Percentages of patients on viral suppression were homogeneously high across all study sites. The factors identified by cross-validation were line of HAART, diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, current CD4 T-cell count, and detectable HIV viremia >50 copies/mL. In the final multivariable model, HAART costs were independently directly associated with more advanced HAART line (P<0.001) and inversely correlated with current CD4 T-cell count (P=0.024). Site of care held independent prediction of higher costs, with marked control of expenses at sites 2 (P=0.001) and 5 (P<0.001).
Conclusion
Higher costs of HAART were strongly associated with previous treatment failures, detectable HIV viremia, and lower CD4 T-cell count at the time of evaluation, with no correlation at all with sex, age, hepatitis C virus coinfection, and nadir CD4 T-cell counts. Newer drugs, which are typically those associated with high prices, at the time of the analysis were still prevalently prescribed to rescue and maintain viral suppression in patients with more complex treatment history. Further analyses of the contribution of the single drug/regimen to the estimated cost are warranted.
doi:10.2147/CEOR.S69183
PMCID: PMC4278727  PMID: 25565872
highly active antiretroviral treatment; human immunodeficiency virus; costs; treatment failures; viremia; current CD4 count
2.  Five-Year Retrospective Italian Multicenter Study of Visceral Leishmaniasis Treatment 
The treatment of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is poorly standardized in Italy in spite of the existing evidence. All consecutive patients with VL admitted at 15 Italian centers as inpatients or outpatients between January 2004 and December 2008 were retrospectively considered; outcome data at 1 year after treatment were obtained for all but 1 patient. Demographic characteristics, underlying diseases, diagnostic procedures, treatment regimens and outcomes, as well as side effects were recorded. A confirmed diagnosis of VL was reported for 166 patients: 120 (72.3%) immunocompetent, 21 (12.6%) patients with immune deficiencies other than HIV infection, and 25 (15.1%) coinfected with HIV. Liposomal amphotericin B (L-AmB) was the drug almost universally used for treatment, administered to 153 (92.2%) patients. Thirty-seven different regimens, including L-AmB were used. The mean doses were 29.4 ± 7.9 mg/kg in immunocompetent patients, 32.9 ± 8.6 mg/kg in patients with non-HIV-related immunodeficiencies, and 40.8 ± 6.7 mg/kg in HIV-infected patients (P < 0.001). The mean numbers of infusion days were 7.8 ± 3.1 in immunocompetent patients, 9.6 ± 3.9 in non-HIV-immunodeficient patients, and 12.0 ± 3.4 in HIV-infected patients (P < 0.001). Mild and reversible adverse events were observed in 12.2% of cases. Responsive patients were 154 (93.3%). Successes were 98.4% among immunocompetent patients, 90.5% among non-HIV-immunodeficient patients, and 72.0% among HIV-infected patients. Among predictors of primary response to treatment, HIV infection and age held independent associations in the final multivariate models, whereas the doses and duration of L-AmB treatment were not significantly associated. Longer treatments and higher doses of L-AmB were not able to significantly modify treatment outcomes either in the immunocompetent or in the immunocompromised population.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00840-13
PMCID: PMC3910784  PMID: 24189252
4.  Psychological Factors, Including Alexithymia, in the Prediction of Cardiovascular Risk in HIV Infected Patients: Results of a Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54555.
Background
Psychological factors are known predictors of cardiovascular disease in many clinical settings, but data are lacking for HIV infection. We carried out a prospective cohort study to evaluate potential psychological predictors of preclinical and clinical vascular disease in HIV patients.
Methodology/Principal Findings
HIV patients were consecutively enrolled. Demographics, viral and immune parameters and traditional cardiovascular predictors were considered; Intima-Media Thickness (c-IMT, continuous measure) and Carotid Plaques (CPs, focal thickening ≥1.5 mm) were investigated by B-mode ultrasonography; depressive symptoms by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), Type D personality (Distressed Personality or Type D) by the DS14, alexithymia by the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Vascular outcomes included transient ischemic attacks or stroke, acute coronary syndrome, myocardial or other organ infarction. We enrolled 232 HIV subjects, 73.9% males, aged 44.5±9.9 y, 38.2% with AIDS diagnosis, 18.3% untreated. Mean Nadir CD4 T-cell counts were 237.5±186.2/mmc. Of them, 224 (96.5%) attended IMT measurements; 201 (86.6%) attended both IMT assessment and psychological profiling. Mean follow-up was 782±308 days. Fifty-nine patients (29.4%) had CPs at baseline. Nineteen patients (9.5%) had ≥1 vascular event; 12 (6.0%) died due to such events (n = 4) or any cause. At baseline cross-sectional multivariate analysis, increasing age, total cholesterol, current smoking and Alexithymia score≥50 were significantly associated with both increased cIMT (linear regression) and CPs (logistic regression). At follow-up analysis, log-rank tests and Cox’s regression revealed that only older age (p = 0.001), current smoking (p = 0.019) and alexithymia score≥50 (p = 0.013) were independently associated with vascular events.
Conclusions/Significance
In HIV-infected subjects, the Alexithymic trait emerges as a strong predictor of increased IMT, presence of CPs and vascular events. Such results are preliminary and require confirmation from studies with larger sample size and longer follow-up.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054555
PMCID: PMC3551818  PMID: 23349927
5.  Post-herpetic neuralgia 
Background
In spite of the large body of evidence available in the literature, definition and treatment of Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) are still lacking a consistent and universally recognized standardization. Furthermore, many issues concerning diagnosis, prediction and prevention of PHN need to be clarified in view of recent contributions.
Objectives
To assess whether PHN may be better defined, predicted, treated and prevented in light of recent data, and whether available alternative or adjunctive therapies may improve pain relief in treatment recalcitrant PHN.
Methods
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, cohort studies and protocols were searched; the search sources included PubMed, Cochrane Library, NICE, and DARE. More than 130 papers were selected and evaluated.
Results
Diagnosis of PHN is essentially clinical, but it can be improved by resorting to the many tools available, including some practical and accessible questionnaires. Prediction of PHN can be now much more accurate, taking into consideration a few well validated clinical and anamnestic variables. Treatment of PHN is presently based on a well characterized array of drugs and drug associations, including, among others, tricyclic antidepressants, gabapentinoids, opioids and many topical formulations. It is still unsatisfactory, however, in a substantial proportion of patients, especially those with many comorbidities and intense pain at herpes zoster (HZ) presentation, so that this frequent complication of HZ still strongly impacts on the quality of life of affected patients.
Conclusion
Further efforts are needed to improve the management of PHN. Potentially relevant interventions may include early antiviral therapy of acute HZ, prevention of HZ by adult vaccination, as well as new therapeutic approaches for patients experiencing PHN.
doi:10.2147/IJGM.S10371
PMCID: PMC3479946  PMID: 23109810
pain relief; PHN treatment; PHN predictors; PHN prevention
6.  Successful salvage therapy with Daptomycin for osteomyelitis caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a renal transplant recipient with Fabry-Anderson disease 
Daptomycin is licensed in adults for the management of Staphylococcus aureus methicillin-resistant infections, including bone and skin complicated infections. We describe for the first time its use in a renal transplant recipient for Fabry-Anderson Disease with right heel osteomyelitis. The patient was unresponsive to first-line Teicoplanin and second-line Tigecycline, whereas he was successfully treated with third-line Daptomycin monotherapy at 4 mg/Kg/qd for 4 weeks. Local debridement was performed in advance of each line of treatment.
doi:10.1186/1476-0711-11-6
PMCID: PMC3324387  PMID: 22404900
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Osteomyelitis; Daptomycin; Salvage therapy; Antibiotic therapy
7.  Acupuncture for the treatment of severe acute pain in Herpes Zoster: results of a nested, open-label, randomized trial in the VZV Pain Study 
Background
Data on the potential efficacy of acupuncture (AC) in controlling intense or very intense pain in patients with Herpes Zoster (HZ) has not been so far adequately assessed in comparison with standard pharmacological treatment (ST) by a controlled trial design.
Methods
Within the VZV Pescara study, pain was assessed in HZ patients on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and by the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) both at the beginning and at the end of treatment. Response rates, mean changes in pain intensity, differences in total pain burden with an area-under-the-curve (AUC) method over a 1-year follow-up and differences in the incidence of Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) were evaluated.
Results
One hundred and two patients were randomized to receive either AC (n = 52) or ST (n = 50) for 4 weeks. Groups were comparable regarding age, sex, pain intensity at presentation and missed antiviral prescription. Both interventions were largely effective. No significant differences were observed in response rates (81.6% vs 89.2%, p = 0.8), mean reduction of VAS (4.1 +/- 2.3 vs 4.9 +/- 1.9, p = 0.12) and MPQ scores (1.3 +/- 0.9 vs 1.3 +/- 0.9, p = 0.9), incidence of PHN after 3 months (48.4% vs 46.8%, p = 0.5), and mean AUC during follow-up (199 +/- 136 vs 173 +/- 141, p = 0.4). No serious treatment-related adverse event was observed in both groups.
Conclusions
This controlled and randomized trial provides the first evidence of a potential role of AC for the treatment of acute herpetic pain.
Trial registration
ChiCTR-TRC-10001146.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-46
PMCID: PMC3125389  PMID: 21639941
8.  Tinea incognito Caused by Microsporum gypseum in a Patient with Advanced HIV Infection: A Case Report 
Case Reports in Dermatology  2011;3(1):55-59.
The prevalence and the clinical relevance of dermatophytoses in HIV-infected patients are poorly documented, particularly for those caused by tinea incognito. Here, we report a case of widespread facial tinea incognito occurring in an Italian patient with advanced HIV infection, showing both skin and brain lesions. Second-line treatment with liposomal amphotericin B and cotrimoxazole, administered after a microbiological characterization of the skin scrapings, led to complete clearance of all lesions.
doi:10.1159/000326055
PMCID: PMC3073754  PMID: 21487462
HIV infection; Tinea incognito; Microsporum gypseum

Results 1-8 (8)