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1.  Pre-exposure prophylaxis in Southern Africa: feasible or not? 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2015;18(4Suppl 3):19979.
Southern and Eastern Africa bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, and current prevention interventions remain inadequate. Antiretroviral-based pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is gaining momentum as an effective prevention intervention.
Discussions have been started on how this strategy could be employed in Africa such that the populations most in need can be reached urgently for the greatest impact. This requires the selection of specific risk groups and service environments in which PrEP can be distributed safely and cost effectively while being mindful of any ethical issues.
Given the need for an integrated public health approach to this, a number of potential populations and opportunities for PrEP distribution exist and are discussed in this commentary.
PMCID: PMC4509894  PMID: 26198344
PrEP; HIV; AIDS; South Africa
2.  Building our youth for the future 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2015;18(2Suppl 1):20027.
Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk for HIV due to the many developmental, psychological, social, and structural transitions that converge in this period of the lifespan. In addition, adolescent deaths resulting from HIV continue to rise despite declines in other age groups. There are also young key populations (YKPs) that bear disproportionate burdens of HIV and are the most vulnerable, including young men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender youth, young people who inject drugs, and adolescent and young adult sex workers. As a society, we must do more to stop new HIV infections and untimely HIV-related deaths through both primary and secondary prevention and better management approaches. Using an interwoven prevention and treatment cascade approach, the starting point for all interventions must be HIV counselling and testing. Subsequent interventions for both HIV-negative and HIV-positive youth must be “adolescent-centred,” occur within the socio-ecological context of young people and take advantage of the innovations and technologies that youth have easily incorporated into their daily lives. In order to achieve the global goals of zero infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths, a sustained focus on HIV research, policy and advocacy for YKPs must occur.
PMCID: PMC4344540  PMID: 25724512
young key populations; HIV; Prevention and treatment
3.  Mother-to-child transmission of HIV in a community-based antiretroviral clinic in South Africa 
To examine the uptake of ART among pregnant women referred to an ART service and the associated rates and risk factors for vertical HIV transmission.
Retrospective analysis of an observational cohort at a community ART clinic in Cape Town.
Between 2002 and 2008, 367 treatment-naïve pregnant women accessed the clinic. The median age was 27.5 years, and median gestation at presentation was 28 weeks. The median baseline CD4 count and viral load were 134 cells/µl and 28 282 copies/ml. Two hundred and sixty-five women (72%) commenced ART before giving birth, 73 women (20%) were referred for prevention of mother-to-child transmission therapy (PMTCT), and 29 (8%) received no intervention. Among ART-eligible women, 13% were lost to follow-up. Of those starting ART, median duration of therapy prior to birth was 7.6 weeks (interquartile range (IQR) 4 – 11.9). The HIV transmission rate was 5.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.8 – 9.0%). Factors associated with transmission were advanced maternal WHO disease stage (odds ratio (OR) 9.57, p=0.02), and follow-up viral load above 50 copies/ml (OR 3.64, p=0.03). Each additional week on ART reduced transmission by 20% (p=0.05). There was no HIV transmission among women who received more than 8 weeks’ therapy.
The rate of HIV transmission in this study was higher than reported in high-income countries. Prevention of vertical transmission with ART was hindered by women presenting late in pregnancy and with advanced stage of HIV disease. Interventions that facilitate earlier ART commencement and improve programmatic retention of pregnant women are required.
PMCID: PMC3954611  PMID: 21414276
4.  Undiagnosed Tuberculosis in a Community with High HIV Prevalence 
Background: Although failure of tuberculosis (TB) control in sub-Saharan Africa is attributed to the HIV epidemic, it is unclear why the directly observed therapy short-course (DOTS) strategy is insufficient in this setting. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of pulmonary TB (PTB) and HIV infection in a community of 13,000 with high HIV prevalence and high TB notification rate and a well-functioning DOTS TB control program.
Methods: Active case finding for PTB was performed in 762 adults using sputum microscopy and Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture, testing for HIV, and a symptom and risk factor questionnaire. Survey findings were correlated with notification data extracted from the TB treatment register.
Results: Of those surveyed, 174 (23%) tested HIV positive, 11 (7 HIV positive) were receiving TB therapy, 6 (5 HIV positive) had previously undiagnosed smear-positive PTB, and 6 (4 HIV positive) had smear-negative/culture-positive PTB. Symptoms were not a useful screen for PTB. Among HIV-positive and -negative individuals, prevalence of notified smear-positive PTB was 1,563/100,000 and 352/100,000, undiagnosed smear-positive PTB prevalence was 2,837/100,000 and 175/100,000, and case-finding proportions were 37 and 67%, respectively. Estimated duration of infectiousness was similar for HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals. However, 87% of total person-years of undiagnosed smear-positive TB in the community were among HIV-infected individuals.
Conclusions: PTB was identified in 9% of HIV-infected individuals, with 5% being previously undiagnosed. Lack of symptoms suggestive of PTB may contribute to low case-finding rates. DOTS strategy based on passive case finding should be supplemented by active case finding targeting HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC1899262  PMID: 16973982
African community; case finding; HIV infection; incidence and prevalence; pulmonary tuberculosis
5.  Tuberculosis in a South African prison – a transmission modelling analysis 
Prisons are recognised internationally as institutions with very high tuberculosis (TB) burdens where transmission is predominantly determined by contact between infectious and susceptible prisoners. A recent South African court case described the conditions under which prisoners awaiting trial were kept. With the use of these data, a mathematical model was developed to explore the interactions between incarceration conditions and TB control measures.
Cell dimensions, cell occupancy, lock-up time, TB incidence and treatment delays were derived from court evidence and judicial reports. Using the Wells-Riley equation and probability analyses of contact between prisoners, we estimated the current TB transmission probability within prison cells, and estimated transmission probabilities of improved levels of case finding in combination with implementation of national and international minimum standards for incarceration.
Levels of overcrowding (230%) in communal cells and poor TB case finding result in annual TB transmission risks of 90% per annum. Implementing current national or international cell occupancy recommendations would reduce TB transmission probabilities by 30% and 50%, respectively. Improved passive case finding, modest ventilation increase or decreased lock-up time would minimally impact on transmission if introduced individually. However, active case finding together with implementation of minimum national and international standards of incarceration could reduce transmission by 50% and 94%, respectively.
Current conditions of detention for awaiting-trial prisoners are highly conducive for spread of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB. Combinations of simple well-established scientific control measures should be implemented urgently.
PMCID: PMC4538692  PMID: 22272961
6.  The predictive value of current haemoglobin levels for incident tuberculosis and/or mortality during long-term antiretroviral therapy in South Africa: a cohort study 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:70.
Low haemoglobin concentrations may be predictive of incident tuberculosis (TB) and death in HIV-infected patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), but data are limited and inconsistent. We examined these relationships retrospectively in a long-term South African ART cohort with multiple time-updated haemoglobin measurements.
Prospectively collected clinical data on patients receiving ART for up to 8 years in a community-based cohort were analysed. Time-updated haemoglobin concentrations, CD4 counts and HIV viral loads were recorded, and TB diagnoses and deaths from all causes were ascertained. Anaemia severity was classified using World Health Organization criteria. TB incidence and mortality rates were calculated and Poisson regression models were used to identify independent predictors of incident TB and mortality, respectively.
During a median follow-up of 5.0 years (IQR, 2.5-5.8) of 1,521 patients, 476 cases of incident TB and 192 deaths occurred during 6,459 person-years (PYs) of follow-up. TB incidence rates were strongly associated with time-updated anaemia severity; those without anaemia had a rate of 4.4 (95%CI, 3.8-5.1) cases/100 PYs compared to 10.0 (95%CI, 8.3-12.1), 26.6 (95%CI, 22.5-31.7) and 87.8 (95%CI, 57.0-138.2) cases/100 PYs in those with mild, moderate and severe anaemia, respectively. Similarly, mortality rates in those with no anaemia or mild, moderate and severe time-updated anaemia were 1.1 (95%CI, 0.8-1.5), 3.5 (95%CI, 2.7-4.8), 11.8 (95%CI, 9.5-14.8) and 28.2 (95%CI, 16.5-51.5) cases/100 PYs, respectively. Moderate and severe anaemia (time-updated) during ART were the strongest independent predictors for incident TB (adjusted IRR = 3.8 [95%CI, 3.0-4.8] and 8.2 [95%CI, 5.3-12.7], respectively) and for mortality (adjusted IRR = 6.0 [95%CI, 3.9-9.2] and adjusted IRR = 8.0 [95%CI, 3.9-16.4], respectively).
Increasing severity of anaemia was associated with exceptionally high rates of both incident TB and mortality during long-term ART. Patients receiving ART who have moderate or severe anaemia should be prioritized for TB screening using microbiological assays and may require adjunctive clinical interventions.
PMCID: PMC4411796  PMID: 25889688
HIV; AIDS; Tuberculosis; Africa; Anaemia; Antiretroviral; Mortality
7.  Resolution of anaemia in a cohort of HIV-infected patients with a high prevalence and incidence of tuberculosis receiving antiretroviral therapy in South Africa 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:3860.
Anaemia is frequently associated with both HIV-infection and HIV-related tuberculosis (TB) in antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naïve patients in sub-Saharan Africa and is strongly associated with poor prognosis. However, the effect of ART on the resolution of anaemia in patient cohorts with a high prevalence and incidence of tuberculosis is incompletely defined and the impact of TB episodes on haemoglobin recovery has not previously been reported. We therefore examined these issues using data from a well-characterised cohort of patients initiating ART in South Africa.
Prospectively collected clinical and haematological data were retrospectively analysed from patients receiving ART in a South African township ART service. TB diagnoses and time-updated haemoglobin concentrations, CD4 counts and HIV viral loads were recorded. Anaemia severity was classified according to WHO criteria. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to determine factors independently associated with anaemia after 12 months of ART.
Of 1,140 patients with baseline haemoglobin levels, 814 were alive in care and had repeat values available after 12 months of ART. The majority of patients were female (73%), the median CD4 count was 104 cells/uL and 30.5% had a TB diagnosis in the first year of ART. At baseline, anaemia (any severity) was present in 574 (70.5%) patients and was moderate/severe in 346 (42.5%). After 12 months of ART, 218 (26.8%) patients had anaemia of any severity and just 67 (8.2%) patients had moderate/severe anaemia. Independent predictors of anaemia after 12 months of ART included greater severity of anaemia at baseline, time-updated erythrocyte microcytosis and receipt of an AZT-containing regimen. In contrast, prevalent and/or incident TB, gender and baseline and time-updated CD4 cell count and viral load measurements were not independent predictors.
Although anaemia was very common among ART-naive patients, the anaemia resolved during the first year of ART in a large majority of patients regardless of TB status without routine use of additional interventions. However, approximately one-quarter of patients remained anaemic after one year of ART and may require additional investigations and/or interventions.
PMCID: PMC4300078  PMID: 25528467
HIV; Tuberculosis; Africa; Anaemia; Haemoglobin; Antiretroviral
8.  Sibanye Methods for Prevention Packages Program Project Protocol: Pilot Study of HIV Prevention Interventions for Men Who Have Sex With Men in South Africa 
JMIR Research Protocols  2014;3(4):e55.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention intervention programs and related research for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the southern African region remain limited, despite the emergence of a severe epidemic among this group. With a lack of understanding of their social and sexual lives and HIV risks, and with MSM being a hidden and stigmatized group in the region, optimized HIV prevention packages for southern African MSM are an urgent public health and research priority.
The objective of the Sibanye Health Project is to develop and evaluate a combination package of biomedical, behavioral, and community-level HIV prevention interventions and services for MSM in South Africa.
The project consists of three phases: (1) a comprehensive literature review and summary of current HIV prevention interventions (Phase I), (2) agent-based mathematical modeling of HIV transmission in southern African MSM (Phase II), and (3) formative and stigma-related qualitative research, community engagement, training on providing health care to MSM, and the pilot study (Phase III). The pilot study is a prospective one-year study of 200 men in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The study will assess a package of HIV prevention services, including condom and condom-compatible lubricant choices, risk-reduction counseling, couples HIV testing and counseling, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for eligible men, and non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis for men with a high risk exposure. The pilot study will begin in October 2014.
Preliminary results from all components but the pilot study are available. We developed a literature review database with meta-data extracted from 3800 documents from 67 countries. Modeling results indicate that regular HIV testing and promotion of condom use can significantly impact new HIV infections among South African MSM, even in the context of high coverage of early treatment of HIV-positive men and high coverage of PrEP for at-risk HIV-negative men. Formative qualitative research consisted of 79 in-depth interviews, and six focus group discussions in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Analysis of these data has informed pilot study protocol development and has been documented in peer-reviewed manuscripts. Qualitative work regarding stigma faced by South African MSM resulted in finalized scales for use in the pilot study questionnaire. A total of 37 health care providers completed training designed to facilitate clinically and culturally competent care for MSM in the Eastern Cape.
The design of a future, larger study of the HIV prevention package will be conducted at the end of the pilot study, powered to detect efficacy of the prevention package. Data from the updated mathematical model, results of the pilot study, acceptability data, and advancements in HIV prevention sciences will be considered in developing the final proposed package and study design.
Trial Registration NCT02043015; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC4210958  PMID: 25325296
HIV; prevention & control; South Africa; Truvada
9.  Behavioral and Biomedical Combination Strategies for HIV Prevention 
Around 2.5 million people become infected with HIV each year. This extraordinary toll on human life and public health worldwide will only be reversed with effective prevention. What’s more, in the next few years, it is likely at least, that no single prevention strategy will be sufficient to contain the spread of the disease. There is a need for combination prevention as there is for combination treatment, including biomedical, behavioral, and structural interventions. Expanded HIV prevention must be grounded in a systematic analysis of the epidemic’s dynamics in local contexts. Although 85% of HIV is transmitted sexually, effective combinations of prevention have been shown for people who inject drugs. Combination prevention should be based on scientifically derived evidence, with input and engagement from local communities that fosters the successful integration of care and treatment.
Each year, 2.5 million people are infected with HIV. Although multiple prevention strategies exist, they must be effective, affordable, and population-specific.
PMCID: PMC3405825  PMID: 22908192
10.  Decreasing household contribution to TB transmission with age: a retrospective geographic analysis of young people in a South African township 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:221.
Tuberculosis (TB) transmission rates are exceptionally high in endemic TB settings. Adolescence represents a period of increasing TB infection and disease but little is known as to where adolescents acquire TB infection. We explored the relationship between residential exposure to adult TB cases and infection in children and adolescents in a South African community with high burdens of TB and HIV.
TB infection data were obtained from community, school-based tuberculin skin test (TST) surveys performed in 2006, 2007 and 2009. A subset of 2007 participants received a repeat TST in 2009, among which incident TB infections were identified. Using residential address, all adult TB cases notified by the community clinic between 1996 and 2009 were cross-referenced with childhood and adolescent TST results. Demographic and clinic data including HIV status were abstracted for TB cases. Multivariate logistic regression models examined the association of adult TB exposure with childhood and adolescent prevalent and incident TB infection.
Of 1,100 children and adolescents included in the prevalent TB infection analysis, 480 (44%) were TST positive and 651 (59%) were exposed to an adult TB case on their residential plot. Prevalent TB infection in children aged 5–9 and 10–14 years was positively associated with residential exposure to an adult TB case (odds ratio [OR]:2.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1-3.6 and OR:1.5; 95% CI: 1.0-2.3 respectively), but no association was found in adolescents ≥15 years (OR:1.4; 95% CI: 0.9-2.0). HIV status of adult TB cases was not associated with TB infection (p = 0.62). Of 67 previously TST negative children, 16 (24%) converted to a positive TST in 2009. These incident infections were not associated with residential exposure to an adult TB case (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 0.5-7.3).
TB infection among young children was strongly associated with residential exposure to an adult TB case, but prevalent and incident TB infection in adolescents was not associated with residential exposure. The HIV-status of adult TB cases was not a risk factor for transmission. The high rates of TB infection and disease among adolescents underscore the importance of identifying where infection occurs in this age group.
PMCID: PMC4012060  PMID: 24758715
Tuberculosis; Infection; Transmission; Adolescents
11.  The HVTN503/Phambili HIV vaccine trial: a comparison of younger and older participants 
By comparing younger to older participants enrolled in a HIV vaccine efficacy trial, we aimed to gain insights into the inclusion of adolescents in future trials. This was a sub-analysis of a multisite HIV vaccine randomized clinical trial in South Africa, conducted January-September, 2007. Motivations for trial enrollment, social harms, adverse events, and loss to follow-up were compared between younger (18-20 years old) and older participants (21-35 years old). Both younger (n=238) and older participants (n=563) were equally likely to report enrolling for altruistic reasons. Younger females were less likely than older participants to join for trial reimbursement (p=0.005), while younger males were more likely to enroll because the vaccine may provide protection from HIV-acquisition (p<0.001). There were no significant differences in the number of social harms reported. Compared to males over 20 years-old, 18-20-year-old females were less likely to experience adverse events (OR=0.1, CI 0.01-0.80) and no more likely to be lost to follow up (OR=0.7, CI 0.39-1.25), while 18-20-year-old males were no more likely to experience adverse events (OR=1.3, CI 0.58-2.83) or loss to follow-up (OR=0.8, CI 0.51-1.41). Our data support the inclusion of younger participants who are at risk for HIV in future HIV vaccine efficacy trials.
PMCID: PMC3968181  PMID: 24104693
HIV; vaccine trials; clinical trials; youth; South Africa
12.  Mobile phone text messaging for promoting adherence to anti-tuberculosis treatment: a systematic review 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:566.
Mobile phone text messaging (SMS) has the potential to promote adherence to tuberculosis treatment. This systematic review aims to synthesize current evidence on the effectiveness of SMS interventions in improving patients’ adherence to tuberculosis treatment.
We searched electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, Science Citation Index), reference lists of relevant articles, conference proceedings, and selected websites for eligible studies available by 15 February 2013; regardless of language or publication status. Two authors independently screened selected eligible studies, and assessed risk of bias in included studies; resolving discrepancies by discussion and consensus.
We identified four studies that compared the outcomes of the SMS intervention group with controls. Only one of the four studies was a randomized controlled trial. This was conducted in Argentina and the SMS intervention did not significantly improve adherence to tuberculosis treatment compared to self-administration of tuberculosis treatment (risk ratio [RR] 1.49, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 0.90 to 2.42). One of the non-randomized studies, conducted in South Africa, which compared SMS reminders to directly observed therapy short course (DOTS) reported similar rates of tuberculosis cure (62.35% vs. 66.4%) and treatment success (72.94% vs. 69.4%). A second study from South Africa, utilized SMS reminders when patients delayed in opening their pill bottles and reported increased tuberculosis cure (RR 2.32, 95% CI 1.60 to 3.36) and smear conversion (RR 1.62, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.42) rates compared to DOTS. In the third non-randomized study, conducted in Kenya, use of SMS reminders increased rates of clinic attendance on scheduled days compared to standard care (RR 1.56, 95% CI 1.06 to 2.29). Using the GRADE approach, we rate the quality of the evidence as low, mainly because of the high risk of bias and heterogeneity of effects across studies.
This systematic review indicates that there is a paucity of high-quality data on the effectiveness of SMS interventions for improving patients’ adherence to tuberculosis treatment. The low quality of the current evidence implies that further studies (in particular randomized trials) on the subject are needed. In the interim, if the intervention is implemented outside research settings an impact evaluation is warranted.
PMCID: PMC4219402  PMID: 24295439
Mobile phone; Text messages; Tuberculosis treatment; Anti-tubercular agents; Adherence; Compliance
13.  Mobile phone text messaging for promoting adherence to anti-tuberculosis treatment: a systematic review protocol 
Systematic Reviews  2013;2:6.
In 2010, there were approximately 8.8 million incident cases of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide. The treatment of TB is at least six months long and may be complicated by a high pill burden. In addition, TB patients often do not take their medication on schedule simply because they forget. Mobile phone text messaging has the potential to help promote TB treatment adherence. We, therefore, propose to conduct a review of current best evidence for the use of mobile phone text messaging to promote patient adherence to TB treatment.
This is a systematic review of the literature. We will preferably include randomized controlled trials (RCTs). However, non-randomized studies (NRS) will be considered if there is an inadequate number of RCTs.
We will search PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, CENTRAL, Science Citation Index, Africa-Wide Information, and WHOLIS electronic databases for eligible studies available by 30 November 2012 regardless of language or publication status. We will also check reference lists for additional studies, identify abstracts from conference proceedings and communicate with authors for any relevant material.
At least two authors will independently screen search outputs, select studies, extract data and assess the risk of bias (using separate criteria for RCTs and NRS); resolving discrepancies by discussion and consensus. We will assess clinical heterogeneity by examining the types of participants, interventions and outcomes in each study and pool studies judged to be clinically homogenous. We will also assess statistical heterogeneity using the chi-square test of homogeneity and quantify it using the I-square statistic. If study results are found to be statistically homogeneous (that is heterogeneity P > 0.1), we will pool them using the fixed-effect meta-analysis. Otherwise, we will use random-effects meta-analysis. We will calculate risk ratios and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals for dichotomous outcomes, and mean differences for continuous outcomes. For other outcomes without quantitative data, a descriptive analysis will be used.
Our results can be used by researchers and policy-makers to help inform them of the efficacy of mobile phone text messaging interventions to promote patient adherence to TB treatment.
PMCID: PMC3564775  PMID: 23324135
Mobile phone; Text messages; Tuberculosis treatment; Anti-tubercular agents; Adherence; Compliance
14.  Systemic delays in the initiation of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy do not improve outcomes of HIV-positive mothers: a cohort study 
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation in eligible HIV-infected pregnant women is an important intervention to promote maternal and child health. Increasing the duration of ART received before delivery plays a major role in preventing vertical HIV transmission, but pregnant women across Africa experience significant delays in starting ART, partly due the perceived need to deliver ART counseling and patient education before ART initiation. We examined whether delaying ART to provide pre-ART counseling was associated with improved outcomes among HIV-infected women in Cape Town, South Africa.
We undertook a retrospective cohort study of 490 HIV-infected pregnant women referred to initiate treatment at an urban ART clinic. At this clinic all patients including pregnant women are screened by a clinician and then undergo three sessions of counseling and patient education prior to starting treatment, commonly introducing delays of 2–4 weeks before ART initiation. Data on viral suppression and retention in care after ART initiation were taken from routine clinic records.
A total of 382 women initiated ART before delivery (78%); ART initiation before delivery was associated with earlier gestational age at presentation to the ART service (p < 0.001). The median delay between screening and ART initiation was 21 days (IQR, 14–29 days). Overall, 84.7%, 79.6% and 75.0% of women who were pregnant at the time of ART initiation were retained in care at 4, 8 and 12 months after ART initiation, respectively. Among those retained, 91% were virally suppressed at each follow-up visit. However the delay from screening to ART initiation was not associated with retention in care and/or viral suppression throughout the first year on ART in unadjusted or adjusted analyses.
A substantial proportion of eligible pregnant women referred for ART do not begin treatment before delivery in this setting. Among women who do initiate ART, delaying initiation for patient preparation is not associated with improved maternal outcomes. Given the need to maximize the duration of ART before delivery for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, there is an urgent need for new strategies to help expedite ART initiation in eligible pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC3490939  PMID: 22963318
Antiretroviral therapy; Pregnancy; Patient preparation; Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT); HIV/AIDS; South Africa
15.  Lipoarabinomannan in urine during tuberculosis treatment: association with host and pathogen factors and mycobacteriuria 
Detection of lipoarabinomannan (LAM), a Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) cell wall antigen, is a potentially attractive diagnostic. However, the LAM-ELISA assay has demonstrated variable sensitivity in diagnosing TB in diverse clinical populations. We therefore explored pathogen and host factors potentially impacting LAM detection.
LAM-ELISA assay testing, sputum smear and culture status, HIV status, CD4 cell count, proteinuria and TB outcomes were prospectively determined in adults diagnosed with TB and commencing TB treatment at a South African township TB clinic. Sputum TB isolates were characterised by IS61110-based restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and urines were tested for mycobacteriuria by Xpert® MTB/RIF assay.
32/199 (16.1%) of patients tested LAM-ELISA positive. Median optical density and proportion testing LAM positive remained unchanged during 2 weeks of treatment and then declined over 24 weeks. LAM was associated with positive sputum smear and culture status, HIV infection and low CD4 cell counts but not proteinuria, RFLP strain or TB treatment outcome. The sensitivity of LAM for TB in HIV-infected patients with CD4 counts of ≥ 200, 100-199, 50-99, and < 50 cells/μl, was 15.2%, 32%, 42.9%, and 69.2% respectively. Mycobacteriuria was found in 15/32 (46.9%) of LAM positive patients and in none of the LAM negative controls.
Urinary LAM was related to host immune factors, was unrelated to Mtb strain and declined steadily after an initial 2 weeks of TB treatment. The strong association of urine LAM with mycobacteriuria is a new finding, indicating frequent TB involvement of the renal tract in advanced HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3349560  PMID: 22369353
16.  Treatment outcomes in HIV-infected adolescents attending a community-based antiretroviral therapy clinic in South Africa 
Very few data are available on treatment outcomes of adolescents living with HIV infection (whether perinatally acquired or sexually acquired) in sub-Saharan Africa. The present study therefore compared the treatment outcomes in adolescents with those of young adults at a public sector community-based ART programme in Cape Town, South Africa.
Treatment outcomes of adolescents (9-19 years) were compared with those of young adults (20-28 years), enrolled in a prospective cohort between September 2002 and June 2009. Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess outcomes and determine associations with age, while adjusting for potential confounders. The treatment outcomes were mortality, loss to follow-up (LTFU), immunological response, virological suppression and virological failure.
883 patients, including 65 adolescents (47 perinatally infected and 17 sexually infected) and 818 young adults, received ART. There was no difference in median baseline CD4 cell count between adolescents and young adults (133.5 vs 116 cells/μL; p = 0.31). Overall mortality rates in adolescents and young adults were 1.2 (0.3-4.8) and 3.1 (2.4-3.9) deaths per 100 person-years, respectively. Adolescents had lower rates of virological suppression (< 400 copies/mL) at 48 weeks (27.3% vs 63.1%; p < 0.001). Despite this, however, the median change in CD4 count from baseline at 48 weeks of ART was significantly greater for adolescents than young adults (373 vs 187 cells/μL; p = 0.0001). Treatment failure rates were 8.2 (4.6-14.4) and 5.0 (4.1-6.1) per 100 person-years in the two groups. In multivariate analyses, there was no significant difference in LTFU and mortality between age groups but increased risk in virological failure [AHR 2.06 (95% CI 1.11-3.81; p = 0.002)] in adolescents.
Despite lower virological suppression rates and higher rates of virological failure, immunological responses were nevertheless greater in adolescents than young adults whereas rates of mortality and LTFU were similar. Further studies to determine the reasons for poorer virological outcomes are needed.
PMCID: PMC3295677  PMID: 22273267
antiretroviral; adolescents; outcomes; mortality; virological failure; Africa
17.  Burden of New and Recurrent Tuberculosis in a Major South African City Stratified by Age and HIV-Status 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25098.
To describe the burden of tuberculosis (TB) in Cape Town by calculating TB incidence rates stratified by age and HIV-status, assessing the contribution of retreatment disease and estimating the cumulative lifetime TB risk in HIV-negative individuals.
Details of TB cases were abstracted from the 2009 electronic TB register. Population denominators were estimated from census data and actuarial estimates of HIV prevalence, allowing calculation of age-specific and HIV-stratified TB notification rates.
The 2009 mid-year population was 3,443,010 (3,241,508 HIV-negative and 201,502 HIV-positive individuals). There were 29,478 newly notified TB cases of which 56% were laboratory confirmed. HIV status was recorded for 87% of cases and of those with known HIV-status 49% were HIV-negative and 51% were positive. Discrete peaks in the incidence of non-HIV-associated TB occurred at three ages: 511/100,000 at 0–4 years of age, 553/100,000 at 20–24 years and 628/100,000 at 45–49 years with 1.5%, 19% and 45% being due to retreatment TB, respectively. Only 15.5% of recurrent cases had a history of TB treatment failure or default. The cumulative lifetime risks in the HIV-negative population of all new TB episodes and new smear-positive TB episodes were 24% and 12%, respectively; the lifetime risk of retreatment disease was 9%. The HIV-positive notification rate was 6,567/100,000 (HIV-associated TB rate ratio = 17). Although retreatment cases comprised 30% of the HIV-associated TB burden, 88% of these patients had no history of prior treatment failure or default.
The annual burden of TB in this city is huge. TB in the HIV-negative population contributed almost half of the overall disease burden and cumulative lifetime risks were similar to those reported in the pre-chemotherapy era. Retreatment TB contributed significantly to both HIV-associated and non-HIV-associated TB but infrequently followed prior inadequate treatment. This likely reflects ongoing TB transmission to both HIV-negative and positive individuals.
PMCID: PMC3189963  PMID: 22016763
18.  HIV Risk and Associations of HIV Infection among men who have sex with men in Peri-Urban Cape Town, South Africa 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:766.
The HIV epidemic in Sub Saharan Africa has been traditionally assumed to be driven by high risk heterosexual and vertical transmission. However, there is an increasing body of data highlighting the disproportionate burden of HIV infection among MSM in the generalized HIV epidemics across of Southern Africa. In South Africa specifically, there has been an increase in attention focused on the risk status and preventive needs of MSM both in urban centers and peri-urban townships. The study presented here represents the first evaluation of HIV prevalence and associations of HIV infection among MSM in the peri-urban townships of Cape Town.
The study consisted of an anonymous probe of 200 men, reporting ever having had sex with another man, recruited through venue-base sampling from January to February, 2009.
Overall, HIV prevalence was 25.5% (n = 51/200). Of these prevalent HIV infections, only 6% of HIV-1 infected MSM were aware of their HIV status (3/50). 0% of men reported always having safe sex as defined by always wearing condoms during sex and using water-based lubricants. Independent associations with HIV infection included inconsistent condom use with male partners (aOR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0-5.4), having been blackmailed (aOR 4.4, 95% CI 1.6-20.2), age over 26 years (aOR 4.2, 95% CI 1.6-10.6), being unemployed (aOR 3.7, 95% CI 1.5-9.3), and rural origin (aOR 6.0, 95% CI 2.2-16.7). Bisexual activity was reported by 17.1% (34/199), and a total of 8% (16/200) reported having a regular female partner. Human rights violations were common with 10.5% (n = 21/200) reporting having been blackmailed and 21.0% (n = 42/200) reporting being afraid to seek health care.
The conclusions from this study include that a there is a high risk and underserved population of MSM in the townships surrounding Cape Town. The high HIV prevalence and high risk sexual practices suggest that prevalence will continue to increase among these men in the context of an otherwise slowing epidemic. These data further highlight the need to better characterize risk factors for HIV prevention and appropriate targeted combination packages of HIV interventions including biomedical, behavioural, and structural approaches to mitigate HIV risk among these men.
PMCID: PMC3196714  PMID: 21975248
19.  Force of tuberculosis infection among adolescents in a high HIV and TB prevalence community: a cross-sectional observation study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:156.
Understanding of the transmission dynamics of tuberculosis (TB) in high TB and HIV prevalent settings is required in order to develop effective intervention strategies for TB control. However, there are little data assessing incidence of TB infection in adolescents in these settings.
We performed a tuberculin skin test (TST) and HIV survey among secondary school learners in a high HIV and TB prevalence community. TST responses to purified protein derivative RT23 were read after 3 days. HIV-infection was assessed using Orasure® collection device and ELISA testing. The results of the HIV-uninfected participants were combined with those from previous surveys among primary school learners in the same community, and force of TB infection was calculated by age.
The age of 820 secondary school participants ranged from 13 to 22 years. 159 participants had participated in the primary school surveys. At a 10 mm cut-off, prevalence of TB infection among HIV-uninfected and first time participants, was 54% (n = 334/620). HIV prevalence was 5% (n = 40/816). HIV infection was not significantly associated with TST positivity (p = 0.07). In the combined survey dataset, TB prevalence was 45% (n = 645/1451), and was associated with increasing age and male gender. Force of infection increased with age, from 3% to 7.3% in adolescents ≥20 years of age.
We show a high force of infection among adolescents, positively associated with increasing age. We postulate this is due to increased social contact with infectious TB cases. Control of the TB epidemic in this setting will require reducing the force of infection.
PMCID: PMC3130671  PMID: 21631918
20.  Caseation of Human Tuberculosis Granulomas Correlates with Elevated Host Lipid Metabolism 
EMBO molecular medicine  2010;2(7):258-274.
The progression of human tuberculosis to active disease and transmission involves the development of a caseous granuloma that cavitates and releases infectious Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli. In the current study, we exploited genome-wide microarray analysis to determine that genes for lipid sequestration and metabolism were highly expressed in caseous tuberculosis granulomas. Immunohistological analysis of these granulomas confirmed the disproportionate abundance of the proteins involved in lipid metabolism in cells surrounding the caseum; namely, adipophilin, acyl-CoA synthetase long-chain family member 1, and saposin C. Biochemical analysis of the lipid species within the caseum identified cholesterol, cholesteryl esters, triacylglycerols, and lactosylceramide, which implicated low-density lipoprotein-derived lipids as the most likely source. M. tuberculosis infection in vitro induced lipid droplet formation in murine and human macrophages. Furthermore, the M. tuberculosis cell wall lipid, trehalose dimycolate, induced a strong granulomatous response in mice, which was accompanied by foam cell formation. These results provide molecular and biochemical evidence that the development of the human tuberculosis granuloma to caseation correlates with pathogen-mediated dysregulation of host lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2913288  PMID: 20597103
21.  Identification of losses to follow-up in a community-based antiretroviral therapy clinic in South Africa using a computerized pharmacy tracking system 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:329.
High rates of loss to follow-up (LTFU) are undermining rapidly expanding antiretroviral treatment (ART) services in sub-Saharan Africa. The intelligent dispensing of ART (iDART) is an open-source electronic pharmacy system that provides an efficient means of generating lists of patients who have failed to pick-up medication. We determined the duration of pharmacy delay that optimally identified true LTFU.
We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of a community-based ART cohort in Cape Town, South Africa. We used iDART to identify groups of patients known to be still enrolled in the cohort on the 1st of April 2008 that had failed to pick-up medication for periods of ≥ 6, ≥ 12, ≥ 18 and ≥ 24 weeks. We defined true LTFU as confirmed failure to pick up medication for 3 months since last attendance. We then assessed short-term and long-term outcomes using a prospectively maintained database and patient records.
On the date of the survey, 2548 patients were registered as receiving ART but of these 85 patients (3.3%) were found to be true LTFU. The numbers of individuals (proportion of the cohort) identified by iDART as having failed to collect medication for periods of ≥6, ≥12, ≥18 and ≥24 weeks were 560 (22%), 194 (8%), 117 (5%) and 80 (3%), respectively. The sensitivities of these pharmacy delays for detecting true LTFU were 100%, 100%, 62.4% and 47.1%, respectively. The corresponding specificities were 80.7%, 95.6%, 97.4% and 98.4%. Thus, the optimal delay was ≥12 weeks since last attendance at this clinic (equivalent to 8 weeks since medication ran out). Pharmacy delays were also found to be significantly associated with LTFU and death one year later.
The iDART electronic pharmacy system can be used to detect patients potentially LTFU and who require recall. Using a short a cut-off period was too non-specific for LTFU and would require the tracing of very large numbers of patients. Conversely prolonged delays were too insensitive. Of the periods assessed, a ≥12 weeks delay appeared optimal. This system requires prospective evaluation to further refine its utility.
PMCID: PMC3000400  PMID: 21078148
22.  Utility of interferon-γ ELISPOT assay responses in highly tuberculosis-exposed patients with advanced HIV infection in South Africa 
Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISPOT assays incorporating Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific antigens are useful in the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) or latent infection. However, their utility in patients with advanced HIV is unknown. We studied determinants of ELISPOT responses among patients with advanced HIV infection (but without active TB) living in a South African community with very high TB notification rates.
IFN-γ responses to ESAT-6 and CFP-10 in overnight ELISPOT assays and in 7-day whole blood assays (WBA) were compared in HIV-infected patients (HIV+, n = 40) and healthy HIV-negative controls (HIV-, n = 30) without active TB. Tuberculin skin tests (TSTs) were also done.
ELISPOTs, WBAs and TSTs were each positive in >70% of HIV- controls, reflecting very high community exposure to M. tuberculosis. Among HIV+ patients, quantitative WBA responses and TSTs (but not the proportion of positive ELISPOT responses) were significantly impaired in those with CD4 cell counts <100 cells/μl compared to those with higher counts. In contrast, ELISPOT responses (but not WBA or TST) were strongly related to history of TB treatment; a much lower proportion of HIV+ patients who had recently completed treatment for TB (n = 19) had positive responses compared to those who had not been treated (11% versus 62%, respectively; P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis confirmed that ELISPOT responses had a strong inverse association with a history of recent TB treatment (adjusted OR = 0.06, 95%CI = 0.10–0.40, P < 0.01) and that they were independent of CD4 cell count and viral load. Among HIV+ individuals who had not received TB treatment both the magnitude and proportion of positive ELISPOT responses (but not TST or WBA) were similar to those of HIV-negative controls.
The proportion of positive ELISPOT responses in patients with advanced HIV infection was independent of CD4 cell count but had a strong inverse association with history of TB treatment. This concurs with the previously documented low TB risk among patients in this cohort with a history of recent treatment for TB. These data suggest ELISPOT assays may be useful for patient assessment and as an immuno-epidemiological research tool among patients with advanced HIV and warrant larger scale prospective evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2031899  PMID: 17725839
23.  CD4 cell count recovery among HIV-infected patients with very advanced immunodeficiency commencing antiretroviral treatment in sub-Saharan Africa 
Patients accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART) programmes in sub-Saharan Africa frequently have very advanced immunodeficiency. Previous data suggest that such patients may have diminished capacity for CD4 cell count recovery.
Rates of CD4 cell increase were determined over 48 weeks among ART-naïve individuals (n = 596) commencing ART in a South African community-based ART programme.
The CD4 cell count increased from a median of 97 cells/μl at baseline to 261 cells/μl at 48 weeks and the proportion of patients with a CD4 cell count <100 cells/μl decreased from 51% at baseline to just 4% at 48 weeks. A rapid first phase of recovery (0–16 weeks, median rate = 25.5 cells/μl/month) was followed by a slower second phase (16–48 weeks, median rate = 7.7 cells/μl/month). Compared to patients with higher baseline counts, multivariate analysis showed that those with baseline CD4 counts <50 cells/μl had similar rates of phase 1 CD4 cell recovery (P = 0.42), greater rates of phase 2 recovery (P = 0.007) and a lower risk of immunological non-response (P = 0.016). Among those that achieved a CD4 cell count >500 cells/μl at 48 weeks, 19% had baseline CD4 cell counts <50 cells/μl. However, the proportion of these patients that attained a CD4 count 200 cells/μl at 48 weeks was lower than those with higher baseline CD4 cell counts.
Patients in this cohort with baseline CD4 cell counts <50 cells/μl have equivalent or greater capacity for immunological recovery during 48 weeks of ART compared to those with higher baseline CD4 cell counts. However, their CD4 counts remain <200 cells/μl for a longer period, potentially increasing their risk of morbidity and mortality in the first year of ART.
PMCID: PMC1435908  PMID: 16551345
24.  Elements of condom use decision-making among MSM in South Africa 
South African men who have sex with men (MSM) are at increased risk for HIV infection, and male condoms are fundamental to HIV prevention programs. We explored condom use experiences through in-depth interviews with 34 MSM in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africa. For data analysis, we generated a codebook and used the constant comparison method. Condom use reinforcing elements included use of alternative sexual strategies, having a high level of self-worth that was linked to protective behaviors, and use of ready-made condom negotiation scripts. Elements inhibiting condom use included perceiving substantial declines in sexual pleasure/performance, experiences of condom failure (possibly related to petroleum-based lubricant), and being in trusted relationships. Our findings suggest nuanced HIV prevention approaches such as bolstering condom negotiation skills based on successful tactics already in use. Further research is needed to address how to mitigate perceptions and experiences that condoms negatively impact sexual pleasure and performance.
PMCID: PMC4169340  PMID: 24935692
25.  Factors affecting tuberculosis strain success over 10 years in a high TB- and HIV-burdened community 
Background: Factors associated with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) strain success over time in high burdened communities are unknown.
Methods: Mtb isolates collected over 10 years from sputum-positive tuberculosis (TB) patients resident in the study site underwent IS6110-based restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. Clinical, demographic and social data were extracted from clinic records and interviewer-administered questionnaires. Strains were defined as persistently successful, transiently successful or unsuccessful based on the average number of cases per year and their continued presence over time.
Results: Genotyping data were available on 789 TB cases. Of the 311 distinct Mtb strains (≥6 bands) identified, 247 were categorized as unsuccessful strains, 12 transiently successful and 10 persistently successful strains. Strain success was not associated with age, gender, antiretroviral use or social factors. Persistently successful strains were less likely to be drug-resistant compared with transiently successful strains [odds ratio (OR): 0.13; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.04 − 0.5]. Persistently successful strains were positively associated with host HIV-infection compared with unsuccessful strains, but this finding was not robust in sensitivity analyses.
Conclusions: Pathogen characteristics appear to play a greater role in Mtb strain success compared with social or host factors. This study supports the need for further investigations into the role of pathogen characteristics in strain success.
PMCID: PMC4121554  PMID: 24609068
Tuberculosis; pulmonary; epidemiology; molecular; polymorphism; restriction fragment length

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