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1.  High Incidence Is Not High Exposure: What Proportion of Prevention Trial Participants Are Exposed to HIV? 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0115528.
Randomized clinical trials of HIV prevention in high-risk populations of women often assume that all participants have similar exposure to HIV. However, a substantial fraction of women enrolled in the trial may have no or low exposure to HIV. Our objective was to estimate the proportion of women exposed to HIV throughout a hypothetical high-risk study population.
A stochastic individual-based model was developed to simulate the sexual behavior and the risk of HIV acquisition for a cohort of sexually active HIV-uninfected women in high HIV prevalence settings. Key behavior and epidemic assumptions in the model were based on published studies on HIV transmission in South Africa. The prevalence of exposure, defined as the proportion of women who have sex with HIV-infected partner, and HIV incidence were evaluated.
Our model projects that in communities with HIV incidence rate of 1 per 100 person years, only 5-6% of women are exposed to HIV annually while in communities with an HIV incidence of 5 per 100 person years 20-25% of women are exposed to HIV. Approximately 70% of the new infections are acquired from partners with asymptomatic HIV.
Mathematical models suggest that a high proportion of women enrolled in HIV prevention trials may be unexposed to HIV even when incidence rates are high. The relationship between HIV exposure and other risk factors should be carefully analyzed when future clinical trials are planned.
PMCID: PMC4287619  PMID: 25569838
2.  Analytic Review of Modeling Studies of ARV Based PrEP Interventions Reveals Strong Influence of Drug-Resistance Assumptions on the Population-Level Effectiveness 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80927.
Four clinical trials have shown that oral and topical pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) based on tenofovir may be effective in preventing HIV transmission. The expected reduction in HIV transmission and the projected prevalence of drug resistance due to PrEP use vary significantly across modeling studies as a result of the broad spectrum of assumptions employed. Our goal is to quantify the influence of drug resistance assumptions on the predicted population-level impact of PrEP.
All modeling studies which evaluate the impact of oral or topical PrEP are reviewed and key assumptions regarding mechanisms of generation and spread of drug-resistant HIV are identified. A dynamic model of the HIV epidemic is developed to assess and compare the impact of oral PrEP using resistance assumptions extracted from published studies. The benefits and risks associated with ten years of PrEP use are evaluated under identical epidemic, behavioral and intervention conditions in terms of cumulative fractions of new HIV infections prevented, resistance prevalence among those infected with HIV, and fractions of infections in which resistance is transmitted.
Published models demonstrate enormous variability in resistance-generating assumptions and uncertainty in parameter values. Depending on which resistance parameterization is used, a resistance prevalence between 2% and 44% may be expected if 50% efficacious oral PrEP is used consistently by 50% of the population over ten years. We estimated that resistance may be responsible for up to a 10% reduction or up to a 30% contribution to the fraction of prevented infections predicted in different studies.
Resistance assumptions used in published studies have a strong influence on the projected impact of PrEP. Modelers and virologists should collaborate toward clarifying the set of resistance assumptions biologically relevant to the PrEP products which are already in use or soon to be added to the arsenal against HIV.
PMCID: PMC3840039  PMID: 24282559
3.  Population-Level Benefits from Providing Effective HIV Prevention Means to Pregnant Women in High Prevalence Settings 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73770.
HIV prevalence among pregnant women in Southern Africa is extremely high. Epidemiological studies suggest that pregnancy increases the risk of HIV sexual acquisition and that HIV infections acquired during pregnancy carry higher risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). We analyze the potential benefits from extending the availability of effective microbicide to pregnant women (in addition to non-pregnant women) in a wide-scale intervention.
Methods and Findings
A transmission dynamic model was designed to assess the impact of microbicide use in high HIV prevalence settings and to estimate proportions of new HIV infections, infections acquired during pregnancy, and MTCT prevented over 10 years. Our analysis suggests that consistent use of microbicide with 70% efficacy by 60% of non-pregnant women may prevent approximately 40% and 15% of new infections in women and men respectively over 10 years, assuming no additional increase in HIV risk to either partner during pregnancy (RRHIV/preg = 1). It may also prevent 8–15% MTCT depending on the increase in MTCT risk when HIV is acquired during pregnancy compared to before pregnancy (RRMTCT/preg). Extending the microbicides use during pregnancy may improve the effectiveness of the intervention by 10% (RRHIV/preg = 1) to 25% (RRHIV/preg = 2) and reduce the number of HIV infections acquired during pregnancy by 40% to 70% in different scenarios. It may add between 6% (RRHIV/preg = 1, RRMTCT/preg = 1) and 25% (RRHIV/preg = 2, RRMTCT/preg = 4) to the reduction in the residual MTCT.
Providing safe and effective microbicide to pregnant women in the context of wide-scale interventions would be desirable as it would increase the effectiveness of the intervention and significantly reduce the number of HIV infections acquired during pregnancy. The projected benefits from covering pregnant women by the HIV prevention programs is more substantial in communities in which the sexual risk during pregnancy is elevated.
PMCID: PMC3774771  PMID: 24066069
4.  PTPN22 Association in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) with Respect to Individual Ancestry and Clinical Sub-Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69404.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 (PTPN22) is a negative regulator of T-cell activation associated with several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Missense rs2476601 is associated with SLE in individuals with European ancestry. Since the rs2476601 risk allele frequency differs dramatically across ethnicities, we assessed robustness of PTPN22 association with SLE and its clinical sub-phenotypes across four ethnically diverse populations. Ten SNPs were genotyped in 8220 SLE cases and 7369 controls from in European-Americans (EA), African-Americans (AA), Asians (AS), and Hispanics (HS). We performed imputation-based association followed by conditional analysis to identify independent associations. Significantly associated SNPs were tested for association with SLE clinical sub-phenotypes, including autoantibody profiles. Multiple testing was accounted for by using false discovery rate. We successfully imputed and tested allelic association for 107 SNPs within the PTPN22 region and detected evidence of ethnic-specific associations from EA and HS. In EA, the strongest association was at rs2476601 (P = 4.7×10−9, OR = 1.40 (95% CI = 1.25–1.56)). Independent association with rs1217414 was also observed in EA, and both SNPs are correlated with increased European ancestry. For HS imputed intronic SNP, rs3765598, predicted to be a cis-eQTL, was associated (P = 0.007, OR = 0.79 and 95% CI = 0.67–0.94). No significant associations were observed in AA or AS. Case-only analysis using lupus-related clinical criteria revealed differences between EA SLE patients positive for moderate to high titers of IgG anti-cardiolipin (aCL IgG >20) versus negative aCL IgG at rs2476601 (P = 0.012, OR = 1.65). Association was reinforced when these cases were compared to controls (P = 2.7×10−5, OR = 2.11). Our results validate that rs2476601 is the most significantly associated SNP in individuals with European ancestry. Additionally, rs1217414 and rs3765598 may be associated with SLE. Further studies are required to confirm the involvement of rs2476601 with aCL IgG.
PMCID: PMC3737240  PMID: 23950893
5.  Phylogenetic Analysis Reveals a Cryptic Species Blastomyces gilchristii, sp. nov. within the Human Pathogenic Fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59237.
Analysis of the population genetic structure of microbial species is of fundamental importance to many scientific disciplines because it can identify cryptic species, reveal reproductive mode, and elucidate processes that contribute to pathogen evolution. Here, we examined the population genetic structure and geographic differentiation of the sexual, dimorphic fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis, the causative agent of blastomycosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Criteria for Genealogical Concordance Phylogenetic Species Recognition (GCPSR) applied to seven nuclear loci (arf6, chs2, drk1, fads, pyrF, tub1, and its-2) from 78 clinical and environmental isolates identified two previously unrecognized phylogenetic species. Four of seven single gene phylogenies examined (chs2, drk1, pyrF, and its-2) supported the separation of Phylogenetic Species 1 (PS1) and Phylogenetic Species 2 (PS2) which were also well differentiated in the concatenated chs2-drk1-fads-pyrF-tub1-arf6-its2 genealogy with all isolates falling into one of two evolutionarily independent lineages. Phylogenetic species were genetically distinct with interspecific divergence 4-fold greater than intraspecific divergence and a high Fst value (0.772, P<0.001) indicative of restricted gene flow between PS1 and PS2. Whereas panmixia expected of a single freely recombining population was not observed, recombination was detected when PS1 and PS2 were assessed separately, suggesting reproductive isolation. Random mating among PS1 isolates, which were distributed across North America, was only detected after partitioning isolates into six geographic regions. The PS2 population, found predominantly in the hyper-endemic regions of northwestern Ontario, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, contained a substantial clonal component with random mating detected only among unique genotypes in the population.
These analyses provide evidence for a genetically divergent clade within Blastomyces dermatitidis, which we use to describe a novel species, Blastomyces gilchristii sp. nov. In addition, we discuss the value of population genetic and phylogenetic analyses as a foundation for disease surveillance, understanding pathogen evolution, and discerning phenotypic differences between phylogenetic species.
PMCID: PMC3606480  PMID: 23533607
6.  Cyclic Nucleotide Gated Channels 7 and 8 Are Essential for Male Reproductive Fertility 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55277.
The Arabidopsis thaliana genome contains 20 CNGCs, which are proposed to encode cyclic nucleotide gated, non-selective, Ca2+-permeable ion channels. CNGC7 and CNGC8 are the two most similar with 74% protein sequence identity, and both genes are preferentially expressed in pollen. Two independent loss-of-function T-DNA insertions were identified for both genes and used to generate plant lines in which only one of the two alleles was segregating (e.g., cngc7-1+/−/cngc8-2−/− and cngc7-3−/−/cngc8-1+/−). While normal pollen transmission was observed for single gene mutations, pollen harboring mutations in both cngc7 and 8 were found to be male sterile (transmission efficiency reduced by more than 3000-fold). Pollen grains harboring T-DNA disruptions of both cngc7 and 8 displayed a high frequency of bursting when germinated in vitro. The male sterile defect could be rescued through pollen expression of a CNGC7 or 8 transgene including a CNGC7 with an N-terminal GFP-tag. However, rescue efficiencies were reduced ∼10-fold when the CNGC7 or 8 included an F to W substitution (F589W and F624W, respectively) at the junction between the putative cyclic nucleotide binding-site and the calmodulin binding-site, identifying this junction as important for proper functioning of a plant CNGC. Using confocal microscopy, GFP-CNGC7 was found to preferentially localize to the plasma membrane at the flanks of the growing tip. Together these results indicate that CNGC7 and 8 are at least partially redundant and provide an essential function at the initiation of pollen tube tip growth.
PMCID: PMC3570425  PMID: 23424627
7.  Is Wetter Better? An Evaluation of Over-the-Counter Personal Lubricants for Safety and Anti-HIV-1 Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48328.
Because lubricants may decrease trauma during coitus, it is hypothesized that they could aid in the prevention of HIV acquisition. Therefore, safety and anti-HIV-1 activity of over-the-counter (OTC) aqueous- (n = 10), lipid- (n = 2), and silicone-based (n = 2) products were tested. The rheological properties of the lipid-based lubricants precluded testing with the exception of explant safety testing. Six aqueous-based gels were hyperosmolar, two were nearly iso-osmolar, and two were hypo-osmolar. Evaluation of the panel of products showed Gynol II (a spermicidal gel containing 2% nonoxynol-9), KY Jelly, and Replens were toxic to Lactobacillus. Two nearly iso-osmolar aqueous- and both silicone-based gels were not toxic toward epithelial cell lines or ectocervical or colorectal explant tissues. Hyperosmolar lubricants demonstrated reduction of tissue viability and epithelial fracture/sloughing while the nearly iso-osmolar and silicon-based lubricants showed no significant changes in tissue viability or epithelial modifications. While most of the lubricants had no measurable anti-HIV-1 activity, three lubricants which retained cell viability did demonstrate modest anti-HIV-1 activity in vitro. To determine if this would result in protection of mucosal tissue or conversely determine if the epithelial damage associated with the hyperosmolar lubricants increased HIV-1 infection ex vivo, ectocervical tissue was exposed to selected lubricants and then challenged with HIV-1. None of the lubricants that had a moderate to high therapeutic index protected the mucosal tissue. These results show hyperosmolar lubricant gels were associated with cellular toxicity and epithelial damage while showing no anti-viral activity. The two iso-osmolar lubricants, Good Clean Love and PRÉ, and both silicone-based lubricants, Female Condom 2 lubricant and Wet Platinum, were the safest in our testing algorithm.
PMCID: PMC3492332  PMID: 23144863
8.  Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2, Genital Ulcers and HIV-1 Disease Progression in Postpartum Women 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19947.
Co-infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) has been associated with increased HIV-1 RNA levels and immune activation, two predictors of HIV-1 progression. The impact of HSV-2 on clinical outcomes among HIV-1 infected pregnant women is unclear.
HIV-1 infected pregnant women in Nairobi were enrolled antenatally and HSV-2 serology was obtained. HIV-1 RNA and CD4 count were serially measured for 12–24 months postpartum. Survival analysis using endpoints of death, opportunistic infection (OI), and CD4<200 cells µL, and linear mixed models estimating rate of change of HIV-1 RNA and CD4, were used to determine associations between HSV-2 serostatus and HIV-1 progression.
Among 296 women, 254 (86%) were HSV-2-seropositive. Only 30 (10%) women had prior or current genital ulcer disease (GUD); median baseline CD4 count was 422 cells µL. Adjusting for baseline CD4, women with GUD were significantly more likely to have incident OIs (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 2.79, 95% CI: 1.33–5.85), and there was a trend for association between HSV-2-seropositivity and incident OIs (aHR 3.83, 95% CI: 0.93–15.83). Rate of change in CD4 count and HIV-1 RNA did not differ by HSV-2 status or GUD, despite a trend toward higher baseline HIV-1 RNA in HSV-2-seropositive women (4.73 log10 copies/ml vs. 4.47 log10 copies/ml, P = 0.07).
HSV-2 was highly prevalent and pregnant HIV-1 infected women with GUD were significantly more likely to have incident OIs than women without GUD, suggesting that clinically evident HSV-2 is a more important predictor of HIV-1 disease progression than asymptomatic HSV-2.
PMCID: PMC3102671  PMID: 21637835

Results 1-8 (8)