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1.  Effect of the Brazilian Conditional Cash Transfer and Primary Health Care Programs on the New Case Detection Rate of Leprosy 
Social determinants can affect the transmission of leprosy and its progression to disease. Not much is known about the effectiveness of welfare and primary health care policies on the reduction of leprosy occurrence. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of the Brazilian cash transfer (Bolsa Família Program-BFP) and primary health care (Family Health Program-FHP) programs on new case detection rate of leprosy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We conducted the study with a mixed ecological design, a combination of an ecological multiple-group and time-trend design in the period 2004–2011 with the Brazilian municipalities as unit of analysis. The main independent variables were the BFP and FHP coverage at the municipal level and the outcome was new case detection rate of leprosy. Leprosy new cases, BFP and FHP coverage, population and other relevant socio-demographic covariates were obtained from national databases. We used fixed-effects negative binomial models for panel data adjusted for relevant socio-demographic covariates. A total of 1,358 municipalities were included in the analysis. In the studied period, while the municipal coverage of BFP and FHP increased, the new case detection rate of leprosy decreased. Leprosy new case detection rate was significantly reduced in municipalities with consolidated BFP coverage (Risk Ratio 0.79; 95% CI  = 0.74–0.83) and significantly increased in municipalities with FHP coverage in the medium (72–95%) (Risk Ratio 1.05; 95% CI  = 1.02–1.09) and higher coverage tertiles (>95%) (Risk Ratio 1.12; 95% CI  = 1.08–1.17).
At the same time the Family Health Program had been effective in increasing the new case detection rate of leprosy in Brazil, the Bolsa Família Program was associated with a reduction of the new case detection rate of leprosy that we propose reflects a reduction in leprosy incidence.
Author Summary
Leprosy is considered a poverty related disease. Not much is known about the effectiveness of welfare and primary health care policies on reduction of leprosy occurrence. We conducted a study to evaluate the impact of the Brazilian conditional cash transfer (Bolsa Família Program) and the Primary Health Care (Family Health Program) on the new case detection rate of leprosy in the period 2004–2011 in the Brazilian municipalities. All variables were obtained from national databases and a total of 1,358 municipalities were included in the analysis. The new case detection rate of leprosy was significantly reduced in municipalities with intermediate, high, and consolidated BFP coverage. There was a significant increase in new case detection rate of leprosy as Family Health Program coverage increased. We interpret this to mean that at the same time the primary health care had been effective increasing the new case detection rate of leprosy in Brazil, there is an impact of conditional cash transfer in the reduction of the new case detection rate of leprosy due to reduction in leprosy incidence. We expect that these results contribute with arguments to the discussion on the relationship between distributive social policies and health conditions of the population in developing countries worldwide.
PMCID: PMC4239003  PMID: 25412418
2.  Common Mental Disorders Associated with Tuberculosis: A Matched Case-Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99551.
Despite the availability of treatment and a vaccine, tuberculosis continues to be a public health problem worldwide. Mental disorders might contribute to the burden of the disease.
The objective of this study was to investigate the association between common mental disorders and tuberculosis.
A matched case-control study was conducted. The study population included symptomatic respiratory patients who attended three referral hospitals and six community clinics in the city of Salvador, Brazil. A doctor’s diagnosis defined potential cases and controls. Cases were newly diagnosed tuberculosis cases, and controls were symptomatic respiratory patients for whom tuberculosis was excluded as a diagnosis by the attending physician. Cases and controls were ascertained in the same clinic. Data collection occurred between August 2008 and April 2010. The study instruments included a structured interview, a self-reporting questionnaire for the identification of common mental disorders, and a questionnaire for alcoholism. An univariate analysis included descriptive procedures (with chi-square statistics), and a multivariate analysis used conditional logistic regression.
The mean age of the cases was 38 years, and 61% of the cases were males. After adjusting for potential confounders, the odds of tuberculosis were significantly higher in patients dignosed with a common mental disorder (OR: 1.34; 95% CI 1.05–1.70).
There appears to be a positive and independent association between common mental disorders and tuberculosis; further epidemiological studies are required to increase our understanding of the possible biological and social mechanisms responsible for this association. Independent of the direction of the association, this finding has implications for the provision of care for mental disorders and for tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC4061008  PMID: 24937319
3.  Validating a Scoring System for the Diagnosis of Smear-Negative Pulmonary Tuberculosis in HIV-Infected Adults 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95828.
The challenge of diagnosing smear-negative pulmonary TB (tuberculosis) in people living with HIV justifies the use of instruments other than the smear test for diagnosing the disease. Considering the clinical-radiological similarities of TB amongst HIV-infected adults and children, the proposal of this study was to assess the accuracy of a scoring system used to diagnose smear-negative pulmonary TB in children and adolescents, in HIV-infected adults suspected of having smear-negative pulmonary TB.
A Phase III validation study aiming to assess the diagnostic accuracy of a scoring system for diagnosing smear-negative pulmonary TB in HIV-infected adults. The study assessed sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios, and positive and negative predictive values of the scoring system. Three versions of the scoring system were tested.
From a cohort of 2,382 (HIV-infected adults), 1276 were investigated and 128 were diagnosed with pulmonary TB. Variables associated with the diagnosis of TB were: coughing, weight loss, fever, malnutrition, chest X-ray, and positive tuberculin test. The best diagnostic performance occurred with the scoring system with new scores, with sensitivity = 81.2% (95%-CI 74.5% –88%), specificity = 78% (75.6% –80.4%), PPV = 29.2% (24.5% –33.9%) and NPV = 97.4% (96.4% –98.4%), LR+ = 3.7 (3.4–4.0) and LR− = 0.24 (0.2–0.4).
The proposed scoring system (with new scores) presented a good capacity for discriminating patients who did not have pulmonary TB, in the studied population. Further studies are necessary in order to validate it, thus permitting the assessment of its use in diagnosing smear-negative pulmonary TB in HIV-infected adults.
PMCID: PMC3995940  PMID: 24755628
4.  Incidence and Risk Factors for Tuberculosis in People Living with HIV: Cohort from HIV Referral Health Centers in Recife, Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63916.
To identify the incidence of and risk factors for tuberculosis in people living with HIV (PLHIV).
Observational, prospective cohort study.
A total of 2069 HIV-infected patients was observed between July 2007 and December 2010. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate the probability of survival free of tuberculosis, and Cox regression analysis to identify risk factors associated with the development of tuberculosis.
Survival free of tuberculosis (TB) was 91%. The incidence rate of tuberculosis was 2.8 per 100 persons/years. Incidence of tuberculosis was higher when subjects had CD4 cell count <200 cells/mm3; were not on antiretroviral therapy; in those who had, a body mass index <18.5 kg/m2, anemia (or were not tested for it), were illiterate or referred previous tuberculosis treatment at entry into the cohort. Those not treated for latent TB infection had a much higher risk (HR = 7.9) of tuberculosis than those with a negative tuberculin skin test (TST). Having a TST≥5 mm but not being treated for latent TB infection increased the risk of incident tuberculosis even in those with a history of previous tuberculosis.
Preventive actions to reduce the risk of TB in people living with HIV should include an appropriate HAART and treatment for latent TB infection in those with TST≥5 mm. The actions towards enabling rigorous implementation of treatment of latent TB infection and targeting of PLHIV drug users both at the individual and in public health level can reduce substantially the incidence of TB in PLHIV.
PMCID: PMC3651200  PMID: 23675515
5.  Dietary Patterns and Wheezing in the Midst of Nutritional Transition: A Study in Brazil 
To assess the influence of dietary patterns on the prevalence of wheezing in the child and adolescent population in Northeastern Brazil. This is a cross-sectional study of male and female students, 6–12 years old, from the public elementary schools of São Francisco do Conde, Bahia, Northeastern Brazil. The report of wheezing in the past 12 months was collected using a questionnaire from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Program phase III, adapted to Portuguese. Consumption patterns were derived from principal component analysis based on the frequency of consumption of 97 food items by the food frequency questionnaire. We also obtained the anthropometric status, level of physical activity, pubertal development, and socioeconomic information, for each participant. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess the associations of interest. Of the children surveyed, 10.6% reported having wheezing. We identified 2 dietary patterns named Western and Prudent. We found a positive statistically significant association of the Western pattern with wheeze (odds ratio=1.77, 95% confidence interval: 1.10–2.84) after adjustment for total energy intake and controlling for potential confounders. The results showed that the Western dietary pattern was associated with wheezing. Our result is according with previous findings reported in several other studies.
PMCID: PMC3609612  PMID: 23555072
6.  Does IFN-γ play a role on the pathogenesis of non-atopic asthma in Latin America children? 
In this work we explore differences in blood cells and cytokine profiles in children according to atopic status and asthma (atopic or non-atopic). The study involved measurement of Th1(IFN-γ) and Th2 (IL-5 and IL-13) cytokines in Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus stimulated peripheral blood leukocytes, blood cell count, skin prick test and specific IgE against common aeroallergens. Atopic status was associated with eosinophilia and production of Th2 type cytokines. Atopic asthma was associated with eosinophilia and non-atopic asthma was associated with IFN-γ and elevated monocytes in blood. IFN-γ and monocytes might play a role in immunopathology of non-atopic asthma in Latin American children.
PMCID: PMC3564733  PMID: 23253516
Non-atopic asthma; Cytokines; IFN-g; Monocytes; Atopic-asthma; IgE; Atopy
7.  Toxocara Seropositivity, Atopy and Wheezing in Children Living in Poor Neighbourhoods in Urban Latin American 
Toxocara canis and T. cati are parasites of dogs and cats, respectively, that infect humans and cause human toxocariasis. Infection may cause asthma-like symptoms but is often asymptomatic and is associated with a marked eosinophilia. Previous epidemiological studies indicate that T. canis infection may be associated with the development of atopy and asthma.
To investigate possible associations between Toxocara spp. seropositivity and atopy and childhood wheezing in a population of children living in non-affluent areas of a large Latin American city.
The study was conducted in the city of Salvador, Brazil. Data on wheezing symptoms were collected by questionnaire, and atopy was measured by the presence of aeroallergen-specific IgE (sIgE). Skin prick test (SPT), total IgE and peripheral eosinophilia were measured. Toxocara seropositivity was determined by the presence of anti-Toxocara IgG antibodies, and intestinal helminth infections were determined by stool microscopy.
Children aged 4 to 11 years were studied, of whom 47% were seropositive for anti-Toxocara IgG; eosinophilia >4% occurred in 74.2% and >10% in 25.4%; 59.6% had elevated levels of total IgE; 36.8% had sIgE≥0.70 kU/L and 30.4% had SPT for at least one aeroallergen; 22.4% had current wheezing symptoms. Anti-Toxocara IgG was positively associated with elevated eosinophils counts, total IgE and the presence of specific IgE to aeroallergens but was inversely associated with skin prick test reactivity.
The prevalence of Toxocara seropositivity was high in the studied population of children living in conditions of poverty in urban Brazil. Toxocara infection, although associated with total IgE, sIgE and eosinophilia, may prevent the development of skin hypersensitivity to aeroallergens, possibly through increased polyclonal IgE and the induction of a modified Th2 immune reaction.
Author Summary
Toxocara canis and T. cati are roundworms found in dogs and cats, respectively, that can also infect humans and cause several clinical features, including asthma-like symptoms. Human infections with T. canis have been associated with an increased prevalence of atopy and asthma. In the present study, we investigated the associations between Toxocara seropositivity with eosinophilia, total IgE, specific IgE and skin prick test reactivity to aeroallergens, as well as atopic and non-atopic wheezing. Toxocara seropositivity was associated with elevated eosinophil counts and total and aeroallergen-specific IgE but was also associated with a decreased prevalence of skin prick test. Toxocara seropositivity was not associated with atopic wheezing. In conclusion, our data show that human toxocariasis, although associated with eosinophilia and raised levels of total and allergen-specific IgE, may play a role in the modulation of allergic effector responses in the skin.
PMCID: PMC3486906  PMID: 23133689
8.  Associated factors for treatment delay in pulmonary tuberculosis in HIV-infected individuals: a nested case-control study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:208.
The delay in initiating treatment for tuberculosis (TB) in HIV-infected individuals may lead to the development of a more severe form of the disease, with higher rates of morbidity, mortality and transmissibility. The aim of the present study was to estimate the time interval between the onset of symptoms and initiating treatment for TB in HIV-infected individuals, and to identify the factors associated to this delay.
A nested case-control study was undertaken within a cohort of HIV-infected individuals, attended at two HIV referral centers, in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. Delay in initiating treatment for TB was defined as the period of time, in days, which was greater than the median value between the onset of cough and initiating treatment for TB. The study analyzed biological, clinical, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors as well as those related to HIV and TB infection, potentially associated to delay. The odds ratios were estimated with the respective confidence intervals and p-values.
From a cohort of 2365 HIV-infected adults, 274 presented pulmonary TB and of these, 242 participated in the study. Patients were already attending 2 health services at the time they developed a cough (period range: 1 – 552 days), with a median value of 41 days. Factors associated to delay were: systemic symptoms asthenia, chest pain, use of illicit drugs and sputum smear-negative.
The present study indirectly showed the difficulty of diagnosing TB in HIV-infected individuals and indicated the need for a better assessment of asthenia and chest pain as factors that may be present in co-infected patients. It is also necessary to discuss the role played by negative sputum smear results in diagnosing TB/HIV co-infection as well as the need to assess the best approach for drug users with TB/HIV.
PMCID: PMC3490888  PMID: 22958583
HIV; Tuberculosis; Delay
9.  Smoking increases the risk of relapse after successful tuberculosis treatment 
Background Recent tobacco smoking has been identified as a risk factor for developing tuberculosis, and two studies which have investigated its association with relapse of tuberculosis after completion of treatment had conflicting results (and did not control for confounding). The objective of this study was to investigate risk factors for tuberculosis relapse, with emphasis on smoking.
Methods A cohort of newly diagnosed TB cases was followed up from their discharge after completion of treatment (in 2001–2003) until October 2006 and relapses of tuberculosis ascertained during that period. A case of relapse was defined as a patient who started a second treatment during the follow up.
Results Smoking (OR 2.53, 95% CI 1.23–5.21) and living in an area where the family health program was not implemented (OR 3.61, 95% CI 1.46–8.93) were found to be independently associated with relapse of tuberculosis.
Conclusions Our results establish that smoking is associated with relapse of tuberculosis even after adjustment for the socioeconomic variables. Smoking cessation support should be incorporated in the strategies to improve effectiveness of Tuberculosis Control Programs.
PMCID: PMC2483312  PMID: 18556729
Tuberculosis control; successful treatment; relapse; risk factors; smoking
10.  Maternal mental health and social support: effect on childhood atopic and non-atopic asthma symptoms 
Atopic and non-atopic asthma have distinct risk factors and immunological mechanisms, and few studies differentiate between the impacts of psychosocial factors on the prevalence of these disease phenotypes. The authors aimed to identify whether the effect of maternal mental health on prevalence of asthma symptoms differs between atopic and non-atopic children, taking into account family social support.
This is a cross-sectional study of 1013 children participating in the Social Change Allergy and Asthma in Latin America project. Psychosocial data were collected through a household survey utilising Self-Reporting Questionnaire and Medical Outcome Study Social Support Scale. Socioeconomic and wheezing information was obtained through the questionnaire of the International Study of Allergy and Asthma in Childhood, and level of allergen-specific IgE was measured to identify atopy. Polytomous logistic regression was used to estimate the association between maternal mental health, social support and atopic and non-atopic wheezing. Effect modification was evaluated through stratified polytomous regression according to social support level.
Maternal mental disorder had the same impact on atopic and non-atopic wheezing, even after adjusting for confounding variables. Affective, material and informational supports had protective effects on non-atopic asthma, and there is some evidence that social supports may act as a buffer for the impact of maternal mental disorder on non-atopic wheezing.
Poor maternal mental health is positively associated with wheezing, independent of whether asthma is atopic or non-atopic, but perception of high levels of social support appears to buffer this relationship in non-atopic wheezers only.
PMCID: PMC3465835  PMID: 22495771
Asthma; mental health psychological symptoms; social support; psychosocial factors; psychosocial epidemiology; psychology; stress; mental health; statistics

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