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author:("kiddy, Janet")
1.  Diagnostic accuracy of a point-of-care urine test for tuberculosis screening among newly-diagnosed hiv-infected adults: a prospective, clinic-based study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:110.
A rapid diagnostic test for active tuberculosis (TB) at the clinical point-of-care could expedite case detection and accelerate TB treatment initiation. We assessed the diagnostic accuracy of a rapid urine lipoarabinomannan (LAM) test for TB screening among HIV-infected adults in a TB-endemic setting.
We prospectively enrolled newly-diagnosed HIV-infected adults (≥18 years) at 4 outpatient clinics in Durban from Oct 2011-May 2012, excluding those on TB therapy. A physician evaluated all participants and offered CD4 cell count testing. Trained study nurses collected a sputum sample for acid-fast bacilli smear microscopy (AFB) and mycobacterial culture, and performed urine LAM testing using Determine™ TB LAM in the clinic. The presence of a band regardless of intensity on the urine LAM test was considered positive. We defined as the gold standard for active pulmonary TB a positive sputum culture for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Diagnostic accuracy of urine LAM was assessed, alone and in combination with smear microscopy, and stratified by CD4 cell count.
Among 342 newly-diagnosed HIV-infected participants, 190 (56%) were male, mean age was 35.6 years, and median CD4 was 182/mm3. Sixty participants had culture-positive pulmonary TB, resulting in an estimated prevalence of 17.5% (95% CI 13.7-22.0%). Forty-five (13.2%) participants were urine LAM positive. Mean time from urine specimen collection to LAM test result was 40 minutes (95% CI 34–46 minutes). Urine LAM test sensitivity was 28.3% (95% CI 17.5-41.4) overall, and 37.5% (95% CI 21.1-56.3) for those with CD4 count <100/mm3, while specificity was 90.1% (95% CI 86.0-93.3) overall, and 86.9% (95% CI 75.8-94.2) for those with CD4 < 100/mm3. When combined with sputum AFB (either test positive), sensitivity increased to 38.3% (95% CI 26.0-51.8), but specificity decreased to 85.8% (95% CI 81.1-89.7).
In this prospective, clinic-based study with trained nurses, a rapid urine LAM test had low sensitivity for TB screening among newly-diagnosed HIV-infected adults, but improved sensitivity when combined with sputum smear microscopy.
PMCID: PMC3944827  PMID: 24571362
Tuberculosis; HIV/AIDS; Lipoarabinomannan (LAM); Urine; Diagnostic testing; Screening; South Africa
2.  Temporal Trends in the Characteristics of Children at Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation in Southern Africa: The IeDEA-SA Collaboration 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81037.
Since 2005, increasing numbers of children have started antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa and, in recent years, WHO and country treatment guidelines have recommended ART initiation for all infants and very young children, and at higher CD4 thresholds for older children. We examined temporal changes in patient and regimen characteristics at ART start using data from 12 cohorts in 4 countries participating in the IeDEA-SA collaboration.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Data from 30,300 ART-naïve children aged <16 years at ART initiation who started therapy between 2005 and 2010 were analysed. We examined changes in median values for continuous variables using the Cuzick's test for trend over time. We also examined changes in the proportions of patients with particular disease severity characteristics (expressed as a binary variable e.g. WHO Stage III/IV vs I/II) using logistic regression. Between 2005 and 2010 the number of children starting ART each year increased and median age declined from 63 months (2006) to 56 months (2010). Both the proportion of children <1 year and ≥10 years of age increased from 12 to 19% and 18 to 22% respectively. Children had less severe disease at ART initiation in later years with significant declines in the percentage with severe immunosuppression (81 to 63%), WHO Stage III/IV disease (75 to 62%), severe anemia (12 to 7%) and weight-for-age z-score<−3 (31 to 28%). Similar results were seen when restricting to infants with significant declines in the proportion with severe immunodeficiency (98 to 82%) and Stage III/IV disease (81 to 63%). First-line regimen use followed country guidelines.
Between 2005 and 2010 increasing numbers of children have initiated ART with a decline in disease severity at start of therapy. However, even in 2010, a substantial number of infants and children started ART with advanced disease. These results highlight the importance of efforts to improve access to HIV diagnostic testing and ART in children.
PMCID: PMC3867284  PMID: 24363808
3.  When to Start Antiretroviral Therapy in Children Aged 2–5 Years: A Collaborative Causal Modelling Analysis of Cohort Studies from Southern Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001555.
Michael Schomaker and colleagues estimate the mortality associated with starting ART at different CD4 thresholds among children aged 2–5 years using observational data collected in cohort studies in Southern Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
There is limited evidence on the optimal timing of antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation in children 2–5 y of age. We conducted a causal modelling analysis using the International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS–Southern Africa (IeDEA-SA) collaborative dataset to determine the difference in mortality when starting ART in children aged 2–5 y immediately (irrespective of CD4 criteria), as recommended in the World Health Organization (WHO) 2013 guidelines, compared to deferring to lower CD4 thresholds, for example, the WHO 2010 recommended threshold of CD4 count <750 cells/mm3 or CD4 percentage (CD4%) <25%.
Methods and Findings
ART-naïve children enrolling in HIV care at IeDEA-SA sites who were between 24 and 59 mo of age at first visit and with ≥1 visit prior to ART initiation and ≥1 follow-up visit were included. We estimated mortality for ART initiation at different CD4 thresholds for up to 3 y using g-computation, adjusting for measured time-dependent confounding of CD4 percent, CD4 count, and weight-for-age z-score. Confidence intervals were constructed using bootstrapping.
The median (first; third quartile) age at first visit of 2,934 children (51% male) included in the analysis was 3.3 y (2.6; 4.1), with a median (first; third quartile) CD4 count of 592 cells/mm3 (356; 895) and median (first; third quartile) CD4% of 16% (10%; 23%). The estimated cumulative mortality after 3 y for ART initiation at different CD4 thresholds ranged from 3.4% (95% CI: 2.1–6.5) (no ART) to 2.1% (95% CI: 1.3%–3.5%) (ART irrespective of CD4 value). Estimated mortality was overall higher when initiating ART at lower CD4 values or not at all. There was no mortality difference between starting ART immediately, irrespective of CD4 value, and ART initiation at the WHO 2010 recommended threshold of CD4 count <750 cells/mm3 or CD4% <25%, with mortality estimates of 2.1% (95% CI: 1.3%–3.5%) and 2.2% (95% CI: 1.4%–3.5%) after 3 y, respectively. The analysis was limited by loss to follow-up and the unavailability of WHO staging data.
The results indicate no mortality difference for up to 3 y between ART initiation irrespective of CD4 value and ART initiation at a threshold of CD4 count <750 cells/mm3 or CD4% <25%, but there are overall higher point estimates for mortality when ART is initiated at lower CD4 values.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, contributes substantially to the burden of disease in children. Worldwide, more than 3 million children younger than 15 years old (90% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa) are HIV-positive, and every year around 330,000 more children are infected with HIV. Children usually acquire HIV from their mother during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. The virus gradually destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells, leaving infected children susceptible to other potentially life-threatening infections. HIV infection can be kept in check, with antiretroviral therapy (ART)—cocktails of drugs that have to be taken daily throughout life. ART is very effective in children but is expensive, and despite concerted international efforts over the past decade to provide universal access to ART, in 2011, less than a third of children who needed ART were receiving it.
Why Was This Study Done?
For children diagnosed as HIV-positive between the ages of two and five years, the 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for the treatment of HIV infection recommended that ART be initiated when the CD4 count dropped below 750 cells/mm3 blood or when CD4 cells represented less than 25% of the total lymphocyte population (CD4 percent). Since June 2013, however, WHO has recommended that all HIV-positive children in this age group begin ART immediately, irrespective of their CD4 values. Earlier ART initiation might reduce mortality (death) and morbidity (illness), but it could also increase the risk of toxicity and of earlier development of drug resistance. In this causal modeling analysis, the researchers estimate the mortality associated with starting ART at different CD4 thresholds among children aged 2–5 years using observational data collected in cohort studies of ART undertaken in southern Africa. Specifically, they compared the estimated mortality associated with the WHO 2010 and WHO 2013 guidelines. Observational studies compare the outcomes of groups (cohorts) with different interventions (here, the timing of ART initiation). Data from such studies are affected by time-dependent confounding: CD4 count, for example, varies with time and is a predictor of both ART initiation and the probability of death. Causal modeling techniques take time-dependent confounding into account and enable the estimation of the causal effect of an intervention on an outcome from observational data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used g-computation (a type of causal modeling) adjusting for time-dependent confounding of CD4 percent, CD4 count, and weight-for-age z-score (a measure of whether a child is underweight for their age that provides a proxy indicator of the clinical stage of HIV infection) to estimate mortality for ART initiation at different CD4 thresholds in 2,934 ART-naïve, HIV-positive children aged 2–5 years old at their first visit to one of eight study sites in southern Africa. The average initial CD4 values of these children were a CD4 count of 592 cells/mm3 and a CD4 percent of 16%. The estimated cumulative mortality after three years was 3.4% in all children if ART was never started. If all children had started ART immediately after diagnosis irrespective of CD4 value or if the 2010 WHO-recommended threshold of a CD4 count below 750 cells/mm3 or a CD4 percent below 25% was followed, the estimated cumulative mortalities after three years were 2.1% and 2.2%, respectively (a statistically non-significant difference).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, among southern African children aged 2–5 years at HIV diagnosis, there is no difference in mortality for up to three years between children in whom ART is initiated immediately and those in whom ART initiation is deferred until their CD4 value falls below a CD4 count of 750 cells/mm3 or a CD4 percent of 25%. Although causal modeling was used in this analysis, the accuracy of these results may be affected by residual confounding. For example, the researchers were unable to adjust for the clinical stage of HIV disease at HIV diagnosis and instead had to use weight-for-age z-scores as a proxy indicator of disease severity. Other limitations of the study include the large number of children lost to follow-up and a possible lack of generalizability—most of the study participants were from urban settings in South Africa. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that the recent change in the WHO guidelines for ART initiation in young children is unlikely to increase or reduce mortality, with the proviso that the long-term effects of earlier ART initiation such as toxicity and the development of resistance to ART need to be explored further.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS in Africa and on children and HIV/AIDS (in English and Spanish)
The UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2012 provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it; the 2013 Progress Report on the Global Plan provides information on progress towards eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment (in several languages); its 2010 guidelines for ART in infants and children and its 2013 consolidated guidelines on the use of ART can be downloaded
The researchers involved in this study are part of the International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDSSouthern Africa collaboration, which develops and implements methodology to generate the large datasets needed to address high-priority research questions related to HIV/AIDS
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS, including stories from young people infected with HIV, are available through Avert, through NAM/aidsmap, and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
PMCID: PMC3833834  PMID: 24260029
4.  The role of targeted viral load testing in diagnosing virological failure in children on antiretroviral therapy with immunological failure 
Tropical medicine & international health : TM & IH  2012;17(11):10.1111/j.1365-3156.2012.03073.x.
To determine the improvement in positive predictive value of immunological failure criteria for identifying virological failure in HIV-infected children on antiretroviral therapy (ART) when a single targeted viral load measurement is performed in children identified as having immunological failure.
Analysis of data from children (<16 years at ART initiation) at South African ART sites at which CD4 count/percent and HIV-RNA monitoring are performed 6-monthly. Immunological failure was defined according to both WHO 2010 and United States DHHS 2008 criteria. Confirmed virological failure was defined as HIV-RNA >5000 copies/ml on 2 consecutive occasions <365 days apart in a child on ART for ≥18 months.
Among 2798 children on ART for ≥18 months (median [IQR] age: 50 (21–84) months at ART initiation), the cumulative probability of confirmed virological failure by 42 months on ART was 6.3%. Using targeted viral load after meeting DHHS immunological failure criteria rather than DHHS IF criteria alone increased PPV from 28% to 82%. Targeted viral load improved the positive predictive value of WHO 2010 criteria for identifying confirmed virological failure from 49% to 82%.
The addition of a single viral load measurement in children identified as failing immunologically will prevent most switches to second-line treatment in virologically suppressed children.
PMCID: PMC3830726  PMID: 22974345
HIV virological failure children; antiretroviral therapy; monitoring immunological failure
5.  Depressive Symptoms and Their Impact on Health-seeking Behaviors in Newly-diagnosed HIV-infected Patients in Durban, South Africa 
AIDS and behavior  2012;16(8):2226-2235.
We evaluated the prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms prior to HIV diagnosis and determined the effect of these symptoms on seeking HIV care at an urban and rural clinic in Durban, South Africa. Adults were administered a questionnaire which included the 5-item Mental Health Index (MHI-5) before HIV testing. We determined the depressive symptoms among HIV-infected subjects. Of 1,545 newly-diagnosed HIV-infected subjects, 55% had depressive symptoms by MHI-5 score. Enrolling at the urban clinic and decreasing functional activity score were associated with depressive symptoms. Subjects with depressive symptoms who were referred for HIV testing by a healthcare provider were less likely to obtain a CD4 count than those without depressive symptoms who self-referred for testing. Depressive symptoms were common among newly-diagnosed HIV-infected participants and impacted CD4 uptake. Depression screening at the time of HIV diagnosis is critical for improving linkage to mental health and HIV services in South Africa.
PMCID: PMC3521619  PMID: 22451351
HIV; Linkage to care; Depressive symptoms; Depression; South Africa; Africa
6.  Variability of Growth in Children Starting Antiretroviral Treatment in Southern Africa 
Pediatrics  2012;130(4):e966-e977.
Poor growth is an indication for antiretroviral therapy (ART) and a criterion for treatment failure. We examined variability in growth response to ART in 12 programs in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa.
Treatment naïve children aged <10 years were included. We calculated weight for age z scores (WAZs), height for age z scores (HAZs), and weight for height z scores (WHZs) up to 3 years after starting ART, by using the World Health Organization standards. Multilevel regression models were used.
A total of 17 990 children (range, 238–8975) were followed for 36 181 person-years. At ART initiation, most children were underweight (50%) and stunted (66%). Lower baseline WAZ, HAZ, and WHZ were the most important determinants of faster catch-up growth on ART. WAZ and WHZ increased rapidly in the first year and stagnated or reversed thereafter, whereas HAZ increased continuously over time. Three years after starting ART, WAZ ranged from −2.80 (95% confidence interval [CI]: −3.66 to −2.02) to −1.98 (95% CI: −2.41 to −1.48) in children with a baseline z score < −3 and from −0.79 (95% CI: −1.62 to 0.02) to 0.05 (95% CI: −0.42 to 0.51) in children with a baseline WAZ ≥ −1. For HAZ, the corresponding range was −2.33 (95% CI: −2.62 to −2.02) to −1.27 (95% CI: −1.58 to −1.00) for baseline HAZ < −3 and −0.24 (95% CI: −0.56 to 0.15) to 0.84 (95% CI: 0.53 to 1.16) for HAZ ≥ −1.
Despite a sustained growth response and catch-up growth in children with advanced HIV disease treated with ART, normal weights and heights are not achieved over 3 years of ART.
PMCID: PMC3457616  PMID: 22987878
HIV; growth; antiretroviral therapy; Southern Africa
7.  Accuracy of immunological criteria for identifying virological failure in children on antiretroviral therapy - The IeDEA Southern Africa Collaboration 
To determine the diagnostic accuracy of World Health Organization (WHO) 2010 and 2006 as well as United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) 2008 definitions of immunological failure for identifying virological failure in children on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Analysis of data from children (<16 years at ART initiation) at South African ART sites at which CD4 count/percent and HIV-RNA monitoring are performed 6-monthly. Incomplete virological suppression (IVS) was defined as failure to achieve ≥1 HIV-RNA ≤400 copies/mL between 6 and 15 months on ART and viral rebound (VR) as confirmed HIV-RNA ≥5000 copies/mL in a child on ART for ≥18 months who had achieved suppression during the first year on treatment.
Among 3115 children (median (IQR) age 48 (20-84) months at ART initiation) on treatment for ≥1 year, sensitivity of immunological criteria for IVS was 10%, 6% and 26% for WHO 2006 2010 and DHHS 2008 criteria respectively. The corresponding positive predictive values (PPV) were 31% 20% and 20%. Diagnostic accuracy for VR was determined in 2513 children with ≥18 months of follow-up and virological suppression during the first year on ART with sensitivity of 5% (WHO 2006/2010) and 27% (DHHS 2008). PPV results were 42% (WHO 2010), 43% (WHO 2006) and 20% (DHHS 2008).
Current immunological criteria are unable to correctly identify children failing ART virologically. Improved access to viral load testing is needed to reliably identify virological failure in children.
PMCID: PMC3783841  PMID: 21834797
children; antiretroviral therapy; immunological criteria; sensitivity, specificity; virological failure
8.  Tenofovir in second-line ART in Zambia and South Africa: Collaborative analysis of cohort studies 
Tenofovir (TDF) is increasingly used in second-line antiretroviral treatment (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa. We compared outcomes of second-line ART containing and not containing TDF in cohort studies from Zambia and the Republic of South Africa (RSA).
Patients aged ≥ 16 years starting protease inhibitor-based second-line ART in Zambia (1 cohort) and RSA (5 cohorts) were included. We compared mortality, immunological failure (all cohorts) and virological failure (RSA only) between patients receiving and not receiving TDF. Competing risk models and Cox models adjusted for age, sex, CD4 count, time on first-line ART and calendar year were used to analyse mortality and treatment failure, respectively. Hazard ratios (HRs) were combined in fixed-effects meta-analysis.
1,687 patients from Zambia and 1,556 patients from RSA, including 1,350 (80.0%) and 206 (13.2%) patients starting TDF, were followed over 4,471 person-years. Patients on TDF were more likely to have started second-line ART in recent years, and had slightly higher baseline CD4 counts than patients not on TDF. Overall 127 patients died, 532 were lost to follow-up and 240 patients developed immunological failure. In RSA 94 patients had virologic failure. Combined HRs comparing tenofovir with other regimens were 0.60 (95% CI 0.41–0.87) for immunologic failure and 0.63 (0.38–1.05) for mortality. The HR for virologic failure in RSA was 0.28 (0.09–0.90).
In this observational study patients on TDF-containing second-line ART were less likely to develop treatment failure than patients on other regimens. TDF seems to be an effective component of second-line ART in southern Africa.
PMCID: PMC3432418  PMID: 22743595
Tenofovir; second-line antiretroviral therapy; southern Africa; treatment failure; mortality
9.  A randomized trial to optimize HIV/TB care in South Africa: design of the Sizanani trial 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:390.
Despite increases in HIV testing, only a fraction of people newly diagnosed with HIV infection enter the care system and initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART) in South Africa. We report on the design and initial enrollment of a randomized trial of a health system navigator intervention to improve linkage to HIV care and TB treatment completion in Durban, South Africa.
We employed a multi-site randomized controlled trial design. Patients at 4 outpatient sites were enrolled prior to HIV testing. For all HIV-infected participants, routine TB screening with sputum for mycobacterial smear and culture were collected. HIV-infected participants were randomized to receive the health system navigator intervention or usual care. Participants in the navigator arm underwent a baseline interview using a strengths-based case management approach to assist in identifying barriers to entering care and devising solutions to best cope with perceived barriers. Over 4 months, participants in the navigator arm received scheduled phone and text messages. The primary outcome of the study is linkage and retention in care, assessed 9 months after enrollment. For ART-eligible participants without TB, the primary outcome is 3 months on ART as documented in the medical record; participants co-infected with TB are also eligible to meet the primary outcome of completion of 6 months of TB treatment, as documented by the TB clinic. Secondary outcomes include mortality, receipt of CD4 count and TB test results, and repeat CD4 counts for those not ART-eligible at baseline. We hypothesize that a health system navigator can help identify and positively affect modifiable patient factors, including self-efficacy and social support, that in turn can improve linkage to and retention in HIV and TB care.
We are currently evaluating the clinical impact of a novel health system navigator intervention to promote entry to and retention in HIV and TB care for people newly diagnosed with HIV. The details of this study protocol will inform clinicians, investigators, and policy makers of strategies to best support HIV-infected patients in resource-limited settings.
Trial registration unique identifier: NCT01188941.
PMCID: PMC3765953  PMID: 23972276
(3-10): HIV/AIDS; Tuberculosis; South Africa; Linkage to care; SMS reminders; Randomized controlled trial; Counseling/Support
10.  Rates and Predictors of Failure of First-line Antiretroviral Therapy and Switch to Second-line ART in South Africa 
To measure rates and predictors of virologic failure and switch to second-line ART in South Africa.
Observational cohort study
We included ART-naïve adult patients initiated on public-sector ART (Jan 2000–July 2008) at five sites in South Africa who completed ≥6 months of follow-up. We estimated cumulative risk of virologic failure (viral load ≥400 copies/ml with confirmation above varying thresholds) and switching to second-line ART.
19,645 patients (29,935 person-years) had a median of 1.3 years of study follow-up (1.8 years on ART) and a median CD4 count of 96 (IQR:40–159) cells/μl at ART initiation. 9.9% (4.5/100 person-years) failed ART in median 16 (IQR:12–23) months since ART initiation, with median 2.9 (IQR:1.8–5.0) months between first elevated and confirmatory viral loads. By survival analysis, using a confirmatory threshold of 400 copies/ml, 16.9% (95%CI:15.4–18.6%) failed by five years on ART, but only 7.8% (95%CI:6.6%-9.3%) using a threshold of 10,000. CD4 <25 vs. 100–199 (adjusted HR:1.57;95%CI 1.35–1.83), ART initiation viral load ≥1,000,000 vs. <10,000, (1.32;0.91–1.93) and 2+ gaps in care vs. 0 (95%CI:6.61; 4.52–9.68) were predictive of failure. Overall 10.1% (95%CI:9.0%-11.4%) switched to second-line by five years on ART. Lower CD4 at failure and higher rate of CD4 decline were predictive of switch (decline 100% to 51% vs. 25% to −25%, adjusted HR:1.96;95%CI:1.35–2.85).
In resource-limited settings with viral load monitoring, virologic failure rates are highly sensitive to thresholds for confirmation. Despite clear guidelines there is considerable variability in switching failing patients, partially in response to immunologic status and post-failure evolution.
PMCID: PMC3392418  PMID: 22433846
HIV; AIDS; antiretroviral therapy; viral load; virologic treatment failure; second line
11.  Factors Associated with Self-Reported Repeat HIV Testing after a Negative Result in Durban, South Africa 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62362.
Routine screening for HIV infection leads to early detection and treatment. We examined patient characteristics associated with repeated screening in a high prevalence country.
We analyzed data from a cohort of 5,229 adults presenting for rapid HIV testing in the outpatient departments of 2 South African hospitals from November 2006 to August 2010. Patients were eligible if they were ≥18 years, reported no previous diagnosis with HIV infection, and not pregnant. Before testing, participants completed a questionnaire including gender, age, HIV testing history, health status, and knowledge about HIV and acquaintances with HIV. Enrollment HIV test results and CD4 counts were abstracted from the medical record. We present prevalence of HIV infection and median CD4 counts by HIV testing history (first-time vs. repeat). We estimated adjusted relative risks (ARR’s) for repeat testing by demographics, health status, and knowledge of HIV and others with HIV in a generalized linear model.
Of 4,877 participants with HIV test results available, 26% (N = 1258) were repeat testers. Repeat testers were less likely than first-time testers to be HIV-infected (34% vs. 54%, p<0.001). Median CD4 count was higher among repeat than first-time testers (201/uL vs. 147/uL, p<0.001). Among those HIV negative at enrollment (N = 2,499), repeat testing was more common among those with family or friends living with HIV (ARR 1.50, 95% CI: 1.33–1.68), women (ARR: 1.24, 95% CI: 1.11–1.40), and those self-reporting very good health (ARR: 1.28, 95% CI: 1.12–1.45).
In this high prevalence setting, repeat testing was common among those undergoing HIV screening, and was associated with female sex, lower prevalence of HIV infection, and higher CD4 counts at diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3633858  PMID: 23626808
12.  Life Expectancies of South African Adults Starting Antiretroviral Treatment: Collaborative Analysis of Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(4):e1001418.
Leigh Johnson and colleagues estimate the life expectancies of HIV positive South African adults who are taking antiretroviral therapy by using information from 6 programmes between 2001 and 2010.
Few estimates exist of the life expectancy of HIV-positive adults receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) in low- and middle-income countries. We aimed to estimate the life expectancy of patients starting ART in South Africa and compare it with that of HIV-negative adults.
Methods and Findings
Data were collected from six South African ART cohorts. Analysis was restricted to 37,740 HIV-positive adults starting ART for the first time. Estimates of mortality were obtained by linking patient records to the national population register. Relative survival models were used to estimate the excess mortality attributable to HIV by age, for different baseline CD4 categories and different durations. Non-HIV mortality was estimated using a South African demographic model. The average life expectancy of men starting ART varied between 27.6 y (95% CI: 25.2–30.2) at age 20 y and 10.1 y (95% CI: 9.3–10.8) at age 60 y, while estimates for women at the same ages were substantially higher, at 36.8 y (95% CI: 34.0–39.7) and 14.4 y (95% CI: 13.3–15.3), respectively. The life expectancy of a 20-y-old woman was 43.1 y (95% CI: 40.1–46.0) if her baseline CD4 count was ≥200 cells/µl, compared to 29.5 y (95% CI: 26.2–33.0) if her baseline CD4 count was <50 cells/µl. Life expectancies of patients with baseline CD4 counts ≥200 cells/µl were between 70% and 86% of those in HIV-negative adults of the same age and sex, and life expectancies were increased by 15%–20% in patients who had survived 2 y after starting ART. However, the analysis was limited by a lack of mortality data at longer durations.
South African HIV-positive adults can have a near-normal life expectancy, provided that they start ART before their CD4 count drops below 200 cells/µl. These findings demonstrate that the near-normal life expectancies of HIV-positive individuals receiving ART in high-income countries can apply to low- and middle-income countries as well.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
According to the latest figures, more than 34 million people worldwide currently live with HIV/AIDS. In 2011, an estimated 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV, and in the same year 1.7 million people died from AIDS. Since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s, more than 60 million people have contracted HIV and nearly 30 million have died of HIV-related causes. Despite the stark statistics, the life expectancy for people infected with the AIDS virus has dramatically improved over the past decade since the introduction of an effective combination of antiretroviral drugs. In high-income countries, people who are HIV-positive can expect a near-normal life expectancy if they take these drugs (as antiretroviral treatment—ART) throughout their life.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent studies investigating the life expectancy of people living with HIV have mostly focused on the situation in high-income settings. The situation in low- and middle-income countries is vastly different. People who are diagnosed with HIV are often late in starting treatment, treatments regimes are sometimes interrupted, and a large proportion of patients are lost to follow-up. It is important to gain a realistic estimate of life expectancy in low- and middle-income countries so patients can be given the best information. So in this study the researchers used a model to estimate the life expectancy of patients starting ART in South Africa, using data from several ART programs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data collected from six programs in South Africa based in Western Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal between 2001 and 2010. The researchers calculated the observation time from the time of ART initiation to the date of death or to the end of the study. Then the researchers used a relative survival approach to model the excess mortality attributable to HIV, relative to non-HIV mortality rates in South Africa, over different periods from ART initiation.
Using these methods, the researchers found that over the time period, 37,740 adults started ART and 2,066 deaths were recorded in patient record systems. Of the 16,250 patients who were lost to follow-up, the researchers identified 2,947 further deaths in the population register. When they inputted these figures into their model, the researchers estimated that the mortality rate was 83.2 per 1,000 person-years of observation (PYO), and was higher in males (99.8 per 1,000 PYO) than in females (72.6 per 1,000 PYO). The researchers also found that the most significant factor determining the life expectancy of treated patients was their age at ART initiation: the average life expectancy of men starting ART varied between 27.6 years at age 20 and 10.1 years at age 60, while corresponding estimates in women were 36.8 and 14.4, respectively. Life expectancies were also significantly influenced by baseline CD4 counts; life expectancies in patients with baseline CD4 counts ≥200 cells/µl were between 70% and 86% of those of HIV-negative adults of the same age and sex, while patients starting ART with CD4 counts of <50 cells/µl had life expectancies that were between 48% and 61% of those of HIV-negative adults. Importantly, the researchers found that life expectancies were also 15%–20% higher in patients who survived their first 24 months after starting ART than in patients of the same age who had just started therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that in South Africa, patients starting ART have life expectancies around 80% of normal life expectancy, provided that they start treatment before their CD4 count drops below 200 cells/µl. Although these results are encouraging, this study highlights that health services must overcome major challenges, such as dealing with late diagnosis, low uptake of CD4 testing, loss from pre-ART care, and delayed ART initiation, if near-normal life expectancies are to be achieved for the majority of HIV-positive South Africans. With the anticipated increase in the fraction of patients starting ART at higher CD4 counts in the future, long-term survival can be expected to increase even further. It is therefore critical that appropriate funding systems and innovative ways to reduce costs are put in place, to ensure the long-term sustainability of ART delivery in low- and middle-income countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS has more statistical information from world regions
amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, works with health care workers and AIDS organizations in developing countries to create and implement effective HIV research, treatment, prevention, and education strategies
PMCID: PMC3621664  PMID: 23585736
13.  A conceptual framework for understanding HIV risk behavior in the context of supporting fertility goals among HIV-serodiscordant couples 
Reproductive health matters  2012;20(39 Suppl):50-60.
Integrated reproductive health services for people living with HIV must address their fertility intentions. For HIV-serodiscordant couples who want to conceive, attempted conception confers a substantial risk of HIV transmission to the uninfected partner. Behavioral and pharmacologic strategies may reduce HIV transmission risk among HIV-serodiscordant couples who seek to conceive. In order to develop effective pharmaco-behavioral programs, it is important to understand and address the contexts surrounding reproductive decision-making; perceived periconception HIV transmission risk; and periconception risk behaviors. We present a conceptual framework to describe the dynamics involved in periconception HIV risk behaviors in a South African setting. We adapt the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skill Model of HIV Preventative Behavior to address the structural, individual and couple-level determinants of safer conception behavior. The framework is intended to identify factors that influence periconception HIV risk behavior among serodiscordant couples, and therefore to guide design and implementation of integrated and effective HIV, reproductive health and family planning services that support reproductive decision-making.
PMCID: PMC3608509  PMID: 23177680
conceptual framework; HIV; serodiscordant couples; pregnancy; safer conception
14.  Risk Factors for Late-Stage HIV Disease Presentation at Initial HIV Diagnosis in Durban, South Africa 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55305.
After observing persistently low CD4 counts at initial HIV diagnosis in South Africa, we sought to determine risk factors for late-stage HIV disease presentation among adults.
We surveyed adults prior to HIV testing at four outpatient clinics in Durban from August 2010 to November 2011. All HIV-infected adults were offered CD4 testing, and late-stage HIV disease was defined as a CD4 count <100 cells/mm3. We used multivariate regression models to determine the effects of sex, emotional health, social support, distance from clinic, employment, perceived barriers to receiving healthcare, and foregoing healthcare to use money for food, clothing, or housing (“competing needs to healthcare”) on presentation with late-stage HIV disease.
Among 3,669 adults screened, 830 were enrolled, newly-diagnosed with HIV and obtained a CD4 result. Among those, 279 (33.6%) presented with late-stage HIV disease. In multivariate analyses, participants who lived ≥5 kilometers from the test site [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.8, 95% CI 1.7–4.7], reported competing needs to healthcare (AOR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2–2.4), were male (AOR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2–2.3), worked outside the home (AOR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1), perceived health service delivery barriers (AOR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1), and/or had poor emotional health (AOR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0–1.9) had higher odds of late-stage HIV disease presentation.
Independent risk factors for late-stage HIV disease presentation were from diverse domains, including geographic, economic, demographic, social, and psychosocial. These findings can inform various interventions, such as mobile testing or financial assistance, to reduce the risk of presentation with late-stage HIV disease.
PMCID: PMC3557232  PMID: 23383147
15.  Loss to follow-up and mortality among HIV-infected people co-infected with TB at ART initiation in Durban, South Africa 
To quantify the impact of TB co-infection on death and loss to follow-up (LTFU) 12 months after entry into an ART program.
Prospective intervention study
From May 2007-2008, patients undergoing pre-ART training in Durban, South Africa were screened for pulmonary TB using mycobacterial culture. Subjects missing appointments for >3 months were phoned. Patients who could not be reached were considered LTFU. Deaths were ascertained by report from family members. We used the Kaplan-Meier method to estimate time to LTFU or death for 3 groups at enrollment: 1) newly-diagnosed with TB by sputum culture; 2) on TB treatment (i.e. previously-diagnosed); and 3) TB free. We evaluated the role of TB on mortality and LTFU using Cox proportional hazards models.
Nine-hundred fifty-one HIV-infected subjects were enrolled; 59% were female and median baseline CD4 count was 90/μl (IQR 41-148/μl). One hundred forty-four (15%) were newly-diagnosed with TB by sputum culture; an additional 199 (21%) were already on TB treatment. By 12 months, 26% newly-diagnosed with TB at enrollment died or were LTFU, compared to 19% already on TB treatment, and 14% who were TB free (p=0.001). Controlling for age, sex, smoking, CD4, and opportunistic infection history, subjects newly-diagnosed with pulmonary TB were 76% more likely to die or be LTFU (HR 1.76, 95% CI 1.20-2.60) than those without TB.
HIV/TB co-infected individuals are more likely to die or be LTFU within 12 months of ART clinic entry in South Africa. These patients require intensive follow-up during ART initiation.
PMCID: PMC3237807  PMID: 22027877
HIV; Tuberculosis; South Africa; long-term outcomes; mortality
16.  Who starts antiretroviral therapy in Durban, South Africa?… not everyone who should 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(Suppl 1):S37-S44.
To evaluate rates of antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation within 12 months of a new HIV diagnosis in Durban, South Africa.
Prospective observational cohort.
Adults (≥18 years) were enrolled before HIV testing at two outpatient clinics into the South African Test, Identify and Link cohort. Both sites offer comprehensive HIV care. HIV test results, CD4 cell counts, dates of ART initiation and dates of death were collected from medical records and 12-month patient/family interviews were conducted. ART eligibility was defined as a CD4 cell count less than 200 cells/μl within 90 days of HIV diagnosis. The primary endpoint was ART initiation within 12 months for ART-eligible subjects.
From November 2006 to October 2008, 1474 newly diagnosed HIV-infected outpatients were enrolled, 1012 (69%) of whom underwent CD4 cell count testing within 90 days. The median CD4 cell count was 159 cells/μl (interquartile range 65–299). Of those who underwent CD4 cell count testing, 538 (53%) were ART-eligible. Only 210 (39%) eligible enrollees were known to have initiated ART within 12 months. Among ART-eligible subjects, there were 108 known deaths; 82% occurred before ART initiation or with unknown ART initiation status. Men [rate ratio (RR) 1.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1–1.5] and subjects without an HIV-infected family member/friend (RR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1–1.7) were more likely not to start ART.
Less than half of ART-eligible subjects started ART within 12 months. Substantial attrition and mortality follow HIV diagnosis before ART initiation in Durban, South Africa. Major efforts directed towards earlier HIV diagnosis, effective linkage to care and timely ART initiation are urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC3521614  PMID: 20023438
HIV-1; HIV testing; linkage to care; loss to care; South Africa
17.  Routine HIV Testing in Adolescents and Young Adults Presenting to an Outpatient Clinic in Durban, South Africa 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45507.
Although youth (12–24 years) in Sub-Saharan Africa have a high HIV risk, many have poor access to HIV testing services and are unaware of their status. Our objective was to evaluate the proportion of adolescents (12–17 years) and young adults (18–24 years) who underwent HIV testing and the prevalence among those tested in an urban adult outpatient clinic with a routine HIV testing program in Durban, South Africa.
We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of adolescent and young adult outpatient records between February 2008 and December 2009.
We determined the number of unique outpatient visitors, HIV tests, and positive rapid tests among those tested.
During the study period, 956 adolescents registered in the outpatient clinic, of which 527 (55%) were female. Among adolescents, 260/527 (49%, 95% CI 45–54%) females underwent HIV testing compared to 129/429 (30%, 95% CI 26–35%) males (p<0.01). The HIV prevalence among the 389 (41%, 95% CI 38–44%) adolescents who underwent testing was 16% (95% CI 13–20%) and did not vary by gender (p = 0.99). During this period, there were 2,351 young adult registrations, and of these 1,492 (63%) were female. The proportion consenting for HIV testing was similar among females 980/1,492 (66%, 95% CI 63–68%) and males 543/859 (63%, 95% CI 60–66%, p = 0.25). Among the 1,523 (65%, 95% CI 63–67%) young adults who underwent testing, the HIV prevalence was 22% (95% CI 19–24%) in females versus 14% in males (95% CI 11–17%, p<0.01).
Although the HIV prevalence is high among youth participating in an adult outpatient clinic routine HIV program, the uptake of testing is low, especially among 12–17 year old males. There is an urgent need to offer targeted, age-appropriate routine HIV testing to youth presenting to outpatient clinics in epidemic settings.
PMCID: PMC3447803  PMID: 23029060
18.  A retrospective study of Human Immunodeficiency Virus transmission, mortality and loss to follow-up among infants in the first 18 months of life in a prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme in an urban hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:146.
Follow up of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-exposed infants is an important component of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programmes in order to ascertain infant outcomes post delivery. We determined HIV transmission, mortality and loss to follow-up (LTFU) of HIV-exposed infants attending a postnatal clinic in an urban hospital in Durban, South Africa.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of infants born to women in the PMTCT programme at McCord Hospital, where mothers paid a fee for service. Data were abstracted from patient records for live-born infants delivered between 1 May 2008 and 31 May 2009. The infants’ LTFU status and age was based on the date of the last visit. HIV transmission was calculated as a proportion of infants followed and tested at six weeks. Mortality rates were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier (K-M), with censoring on 15 January 2010, LTFU or death.
Of 260 infants, 155 (59.6%) remained in care at McCord beyond 28 weeks: one died at < 28 days, three died between one to six months; 34 were LTFU within seven days, 60 were LTFU by six months. K-M mortality rate: 1.7% at six months (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.6% to 4.3%). Of 220 (83%) infants tested for HIV at six weeks, six (2.7%, 95% CI: 1.1% to 5.8%) were HIV-infected. In Cox regression analysis, late antenatal attendance (≥ 28 weeks gestation) relative to attending in the first trimester was a predictor for infant LTFU (adjusted hazards ratio = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.0 to 5.1; p = 0.044).
This urban PMTCT programme achieved low transmission rates at six weeks, but LTFU in the first six months limited our ability to examine HIV transmission up to 18 months and determinants of mortality. The LTFU of infants born to women who attended antenatal care at 28 weeks gestation or later emphasizes the need to identify late antenatal attendees for follow up care to educate and support them regarding the importance of follow up care for themselves and their infants.
PMCID: PMC3468389  PMID: 22963527
HIV-exposed infants; LTFU; Prevention-of-Mother-to-Child Transmission; Postnatal clinic
19.  Gender Differences in Survival among Adult Patients Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa: A Multicentre Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001304.
Morna Cornell and colleagues investigate differences in mortality for HIV-positive men and women on antiretroviral therapy in South Africa.
Increased mortality among men on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been documented but remains poorly understood. We examined the magnitude of and risk factors for gender differences in mortality on ART.
Methods and Findings
Analyses included 46,201 ART-naïve adults starting ART between January 2002 and December 2009 in eight ART programmes across South Africa (SA). Patients were followed from initiation of ART to outcome or analysis closure. The primary outcome was mortality; secondary outcomes were loss to follow-up (LTF), virologic suppression, and CD4+ cell count responses. Survival analyses were used to examine the hazard of death on ART by gender. Sensitivity analyses were limited to patients who were virologically suppressed and patients whose CD4+ cell count reached >200 cells/µl. We compared gender differences in mortality among HIV+ patients on ART with mortality in an age-standardised HIV-negative population.
Among 46,201 adults (65% female, median age 35 years), during 77,578 person-years of follow-up, men had lower median CD4+ cell counts than women (85 versus 110 cells/µl, p<0.001), were more likely to be classified WHO stage III/IV (86 versus 77%, p<0.001), and had higher mortality in crude (8.5 versus 5.7 deaths/100 person-years, p<0.001) and adjusted analyses (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 1.31, 95% CI 1.22–1.41). After 36 months on ART, men were more likely than women to be truly LTF (AHR 1.20, 95% CI 1.12–1.28) but not to die after LTF (AHR 1.04, 95% CI 0.86–1.25). Findings were consistent across all eight programmes. Virologic suppression was similar by gender; women had slightly better immunologic responses than men. Notably, the observed gender differences in mortality on ART were smaller than gender differences in age-standardised death rates in the HIV-negative South African population. Over time, non-HIV mortality appeared to account for an increasing proportion of observed mortality. The analysis was limited by missing data on baseline HIV disease characteristics, and we did not observe directly mortality in HIV-negative populations where the participating cohorts were located.
HIV-infected men have higher mortality on ART than women in South African programmes, but these differences are only partly explained by more advanced HIV disease at the time of ART initiation, differential LTF and subsequent mortality, and differences in responses to treatment. The observed differences in mortality on ART may be best explained by background differences in mortality between men and women in the South African population unrelated to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
About 34 million people (most living in low- and middle-income countries) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected people died within 10 years of becoming infected. Then, in 1996, antiretroviral therapy (ART)—cocktails of drugs that keep HIV in check—became available. For people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition. However, ART was expensive and, for people living in poorer countries, HIV/AIDS remained a fatal illness. In 2003, this situation was declared a global emergency, and governments and international agencies began to implement plans to increase ART coverage in resource-limited countries. Since then, ART programs in these countries have grown rapidly. In South Africa, for example, about 52% of the 3.14 million adults in need of ART were receiving an ART regimen recommended by the World Health Organization by the end of 2010.
Why Was This Study Done?
The outcomes of ART programs in resource-limited countries need to be evaluated thoroughly so that these programs can be optimized. One area of concern to ART providers is that of gender differences in survival among patients receiving treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, men are more likely to die than women while receiving ART. This gender difference in mortality may arise because men initiating ART in many African ART programs have more advanced HIV disease than women (early ART initiation is associated with better outcomes than late initiation) or because men are more likely to be lost to follow-up than women (failure to continue treatment is associated with death). Other possible explanations for gender differentials in mortality on ART include gender differences in immunologic and virologic responses to treatment (increased numbers of immune system cells and reduced amounts of virus in the blood, respectively). In this multicenter cohort study, the researchers examine the size of, and risk factors for, gender differences in mortality on ART in South Africa by examining data collected from adults starting ART at International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS South Africa (IeDEA-SA) collaboration sites.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected from 46,201 ART-naïve adults who started ART between 2002 and 2009 in eight IeDEA-SA ART programs. At ART initiation, men had a lower CD4 count on average and were more likely to have advanced HIV disease than women. During the study, after allowing for factors likely to affect mortality such as HIV disease stage at initiation, men on ART had a 31% higher risk of dying than women. Men were more likely to be lost to follow-up than women, but men and women who were lost to follow-up were equally likely to die. Women had a slightly better immunological response to ART than men but virologic suppression was similar in both genders. Importantly, in analyses of mortality limited to individuals who were virologically suppressed at 12 months and to patients who had a good immunological response to ART, men still had a higher risk of death than women. However, the gender differences in mortality on ART were smaller than the gender differences in age-standardized mortality in the HIV-negative South African population.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These analyses show that among South African patients initiating ART between 2002 and 2009, men were more likely to die than women but that this gender difference in mortality on ART cannot be completely explained by gender differences in baseline characteristics, loss to follow-up, or virologic and/or immunologic responses. Instead, the observed gender differences in mortality can best be explained by background gender differences in mortality in the whole South African population. Because substantial amounts of data were missing in this study (for example, HIV disease stage was not available for all the patients), these findings need to be interpreted cautiously. Moreover, similar studies need to be done in other settings to investigate whether they are generalizable to the South African national ART program and to other countries. If confirmed, however, these findings suggest that the root causes of gender differences in mortality on ART may be unrelated to HIV/AIDS or to the characteristics of ART programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
Information on the treatment of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is available from the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV/AIDS treatment and care, and on HIV/AIDS in South Africa (in English and Spanish)
WHO provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment (in several languages); its 2010 ART guidelines can be downloaded
Information about the IeDEA-SA collaboration is available
The Treatment Action Campaign provides information on antiretroviral therapy and South African HIV statistics
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about taking anti-HIV drugs and the challenges of anti-HIV drugs
PMCID: PMC3433409  PMID: 22973181
20.  Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis among HIV-Infected Patients Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in Durban, South Africa 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43281.
To estimate the prevalence of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and describe the resistance patterns in patients commencing antiretroviral therapy (ART) in an HIV clinic in Durban, South Africa.
Cross-sectional cohort study.
Consecutive HIV-infected adults (≥18y/o) initiating HIV care were enrolled from May 2007–May 2008, regardless of signs or symptoms of active TB. Prior TB history and current TB treatment status were self-reported. Subjects expectorated sputum for culture (MGIT liquid and 7H11 solid medium). Positive cultures were tested for susceptibility to first- and second-line anti-tuberculous drugs. The prevalence of drug-resistant TB, stratified by prior TB history and current TB treatment status, was assessed.
1,035 subjects had complete culture results. Median CD4 count was 92/µl (IQR 42–150/µl). 267 subjects (26%) reported a prior history of TB and 210 (20%) were receiving TB treatment at enrollment; 191 (18%) subjects had positive sputum cultures, among whom the estimated prevalence of resistance to any antituberculous drug was 7.4% (95% CI 4.0–12.4). Among those with prior TB, the prevalence of resistance was 15.4% (95% CI 5.9–30.5) compared to 5.2% (95% CI 2.1–8.9) among those with no prior TB. 5.1% (95% CI 2.4–9.5) had rifampin or rifampin plus INH resistance.
The prevalence of TB resistance to at least one drug was 7.4% among adults with positive TB cultures initiating ART in Durban, South Africa, with 5.1% having rifampin or rifampin plus INH resistance. Improved tools for diagnosing TB and drug resistance are urgently needed in areas of high HIV/TB prevalence.
PMCID: PMC3422270  PMID: 22912845
21.  Virologic failure and second-line antiretroviral therapy in children in South Africa - The IeDEA Southern Africa Collaboration 
With expanding pediatric antiretroviral therapy (ART) access, children will begin to experience treatment failure and require second-line therapy. We evaluated the probability and determinants of virologic failure and switching in children in South Africa.
Pooled analysis of routine individual data from children who initiated ART in 7 South African treatment programs with 6-monthly viral load and CD4 monitoring produced Kaplan-Meier estimates of probability of virologic failure (two consecutive unsuppressed viral loads with the second being >1,000 copies/ml, after ≥24 weeks of therapy) and switch to second-line. Cox proportional hazards models stratified by program were used to determine predictors of these outcomes.
The 3-year probability of virologic failure among 5485 children was 19.3% (95%CI: 17.6–21.1). Use of nevirapine or ritonavir alone in the initial regimen (compared to efavirenz), and exposure to prevention of mother to child transmission regimens were independently associated with failure (adjusted hazard ratios (95%CI): 1.77(1.11–2.83), 2.39(1.57–3.64) and 1.40(1.02–1.92) respectively). Among 252 children with ≥1 year follow-up after failure, 38% were switched to second-line. Median (IQR) months between failure and switch was 5.7(2.9–11.0).
Triple ART based on nevirapine or ritonavir as a single protease inhibitor appears to be associated with a higher risk of virologic failure. A low proportion of virologically failing children were switched.
PMCID: PMC3104241  PMID: 21107266
antiretroviral therapy; virologic failure; children; second-line therapy; resource-limited setting
22.  Screening for acute HIV infection in South Africa: finding acute and chronic disease 
HIV medicine  2011;12(1):46-53.
The yield of screening for acute HIV infection among general medical patients in resource-scarce settings remains unclear. Our objective was to evaluate a strategy of pooled HIV plasma RNA to diagnose acute HIV infection in patients with negative or discordant rapid HIV antibody tests in Durban, South Africa.
We prospectively enrolled patients with negative or discordant rapid HIV antibody tests from a routine HIV screening program in an outpatient department in Durban with an HIV prevalence of 48%. Study participants underwent venipuncture for pooled qualitative HIV RNA, and if positive, quantitative RNA, enzyme immunoassay and Western Blot (WB). Patients with negative or indeterminate WB and positive quantitative HIV RNA were considered acutely infected. Those with chronic infection (positive RNA and WB) despite negative or discordant rapid HIV tests were considered false negative rapid antibody tests.
Nine hundred ninety-four participants were enrolled with either negative (N=976) or discordant (N=18) rapid test results. Eleven (1.1%, 95% CI: 0.6–2.0%) had acute HIV infection. Of the 994 patients, an additional 20 (2.0%, 95% CI: 1.3–.3.1%) had chronic HIV infection (false negative rapid test).
One percent of outpatients with negative or discordant rapid HIV tests in Durban, South Africa had acute HIV infection readily detectable through pooled serum HIV RNA screening. Pooled RNA testing also identified an additional 2% of patients with chronic HIV infection. HIV RNA screening has the potential to identify both acute and chronic HIV infections that are otherwise missed by standard HIV testing algorithms.
PMCID: PMC2970678  PMID: 20553336
Rapid HIV test; acute HIV; Africa; HIV seropositivity; HIV screening
23.  Intensive Tuberculosis Screening for HIV-Infected Patients Starting ART in Durban, South Africa 
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends cough as the trigger for tuberculosis (TB) screening in HIV-infected patients, with acid fast bacillus (AFB) smear as the initial diagnostic test. Our objective was to assess the yield and cost of a more intensive TB screening in HIV-infected patients starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Durban, South Africa.
We prospectively enrolled adults, regardless of TB signs/symptoms, undergoing pre-ART training from May ‘07–May ‘08. Following symptom screen, patients expectorated sputum for AFB smear, TB polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and mycobacterial culture. Sensitivity and specificity of different symptoms and tests, alone and in combination, were compared to a gold standard of 6-week TB culture results. Program costs included personnel, materials and cultures.
Of 1,035 subjects, 487 (59%) were female; median CD4 count was 100/μl. Two-hundred and ten (20%) were receiving TB treatment and were excluded. Of the remaining 825 subjects, 158 (19%) had positive sputum cultures, of whom 14 (9%) had a positive AFB smear and 82 (52%) reported cough. The combination of cough, other symptoms, AFB smear, and chest x-ray had 93% (CI 88–97%) sensitivity and 15% (CI 13–18%) specificity. The incremental cost of intensive screening including culture was $360/additional TB case identified.
Nearly 20% of patients starting ART in Durban, South Africa had undiagnosed, culture-positive pulmonary TB. Despite WHO recommendations, neither cough nor AFB smear were adequately sensitive for screening. TB sputum cultures should be performed before ART initiation, regardless of symptoms, in areas of high HIV/TB prevalence.
PMCID: PMC3204934  PMID: 20735240
Tuberculosis; South Africa; WHO guidelines
24.  Reproductive Decision-Making and Periconception Practices Among HIV-Positive Men and Women Attending HIV Services in Durban, South Africa 
AIDS and Behavior  2011;17(2):461-470.
Understanding reproductive decisions and periconception behavior among HIV-discordant couples is important for designing risk reduction interventions for couples who choose to conceive. In-depth interviews were conducted to explore reproductive decision-making and periconception practices among HIV-positive women with recent pregnancy (n = 30), and HIV-positive men (n = 20), all reporting partners of negative or unknown HIV-status, and attending HIV services in Durban, South Africa. Transcripts were coded for categories and emergent themes. Participants expressed strong reasons for having children, but rarely knew how to reduce periconception HIV transmission. Pregnancy planning occurred on a spectrum ranging from explicitly intended to explicitly unintended, with many falling in between the two extremes. Male fertility desire and misunderstanding serodiscordance contributed to HIV risk behavior. Participants expressed openness to healthcare worker advice for safer conception and modified risk behavior post-conception, suggesting the feasibility of safer conception interventions which may target both men and women and include serodiscordance counseling and promotion of contraception.
PMCID: PMC3560938  PMID: 22038045
HIV-serodiscordant couples; HIV prevention; Safer conception; Family planning; South Africa

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