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HIV medicine  2013;14(9):549-555.
HIV infection is associated with higher than expected cardiovascular event rates and lowered platelet counts. These conditions are associated with an elevation of mean platelet volume (MPV). The present study compares MPV in HIV-infected and uninfected women and identifies factors influencing MPV values in HIV-infected women.
A total of 234 HIV-infected and 134 HIV-uninfected participants from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) had MPV values obtained. HIV-infected women were older, more likely to have diabetes, and have higher triglyceride levels than HIV-uninfected women.
The mean platelet count was lower in HIV infected vs. uninfected women (249/µl 95% CI 238, 259 vs. 276/µl 95% CI 265, 287, p<0.01). Adjusted mean MPV values were lower in the HIV- infected than in the uninfected group (8.66 fl 95% CI 8.52, 8.79 vs. 9.05 fl 95% CI 8.87, 9.24). In multiple regression analysis after adjusting for other covariates, MPV was positively associated with platelet count, and negatively with HIV infection (model R2=0.20 p<0.01). In multiple regression analysis confined to HIV-infected women, a lower MPV was independently associated with history of AIDS defining illness (R2=0.28 p=0.03), but not with CD4 nadir count or HAART use.
HIV-infected women have lower MPV values than-uninfected women suggesting impaired production rather than increased destruction. Higher than expected cardiovascular event rates, cannot be attributed to greater platelet reactivity as measured by MPV.
PMCID: PMC3775876  PMID: 23738819
HIV; mean platelet volume; WIHS
2.  The potential for bridging: HIV status awareness and risky sexual behaviour of injection drug users who have non-injecting permanent partners in Ukraine 
To quantify potential bridging of HIV transmission between the injection drug using subpopulation to the non-injection drug using population through unprotected heterosexual sex.
Secondary analysis of cross-sectional data.
A sub-sample of participants who reported having a permanent partner who are not injection drug users and have not injected drugs in the past (N=1379) was selected from a survey implemented in 26 Ukrainian cities in 2011. This study evaluates the association between consistent condom use and awareness of HIV status as measured by rapid testing during the study (known/unknown HIV+, known/unknown HIV− and undetermined) among a sub-sample of male injection drug users (IDUs) who have a non-injecting permanent partner. Poisson regression, with robust variance estimates, was utilized to identify associations while adjusting for other factors.
Reported consistent condom use varied between 15.5% (unknown HIV−) and 37.5% (known HIV+); average use was 19.3%. In multivariate analysis, males who were aware of their HIV+ status were more likely to report recent consistent condom use compared to those who were unaware of their HIV+ status. This association remains after adjustment for age, region, education level, years of injection, alcohol use, self-reported primary drug use and being an NGO client (prevalence ratio=1.65; 95% CI 1.03–2.64). No such association was found for those who were HIV−.
Our results regarding HIV-positive male IDUs reinforce previous findings that HIV testing and counselling may be an effective means of secondary prevention. Further research is needed to understand how to effectively promote safer sex behaviours for IDUs who are currently HIV−.
PMCID: PMC3929068  PMID: 24560341
HIV testing; Ukraine; IDU; HIV epidemic generalization; sexual behaviour
3.  HIV Replication Alters the Composition of Extrinsic Pathway Coagulation Factors and Increases Thrombin Generation 
HIV infection leads to activation of coagulation, which may increase the risk for atherosclerosis and venous thromboembolic disease. We hypothesized that HIV replication increases coagulation potentially through alterations in extrinsic pathway factors.
Methods and Results
Extrinsic pathway factors were measured among a subset of HIV participants from the Strategies for Management of Anti‐Retroviral Therapy (SMART) trial. Thrombin generation was estimated using validated computational modeling based on factor composition. We characterized the effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment versus the untreated state (HIV replication) via 3 separate analyses: (1) a cross‐sectional comparison of those on and off ART (n=717); (2) a randomized comparison of deferring versus starting ART (n=217); and (3) a randomized comparison of stopping versus continuing ART (n=500). Compared with viral suppression, HIV replication consistently showed short‐term increases in some procoagulants (eg, 15% to 23% higher FVIII; P<0.001) and decreases in key anticoagulants (eg, 5% to 9% lower antithrombin [AT] and 6% to 10% lower protein C; P<0.01). The net effect of HIV replication was to increase coagulation potential (eg, 24% to 48% greater thrombin generation from computational models; P<0.01 for all). The pattern of changes from HIV replication was reversed with ART treatment and consistent across all 3 independent comparisons.
HIV replication leads to complex changes in extrinsic pathway factors, with the net effect of increasing coagulation potential to a degree that may be clinically relevant. The key influence of changes in FVIII and AT suggests that HIV‐related coagulation abnormalities may involve changes in hepatocyte function in the context of systemic inflammation.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL: Unique identifier: NCT00027352.
PMCID: PMC3828789  PMID: 23896681
antiretroviral therapy; coagulation; HIV infection; HIV replication; inflammation; thrombin generation
4.  Associated factors for recommending HBV vaccination to children among Georgian health care workers 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:362.
Most cases of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and subsequent liver diseases can be prevented with universal newborn HBV vaccination. The attitudes of health care workers about HBV vaccination and their willingness to recommend vaccine have been shown to impact HBV vaccination coverage and the prevention of vertical transmission of HBV. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the factors associated with health care worker recommendations regarding newborn HBV vaccination.
A cross-sectional study of prevalence and awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis B vaccine was conducted among randomly selected physicians and nurses employed in seven hospitals in Georgia in 2006 and 2007. Self-administered questionnaires included a module on recommendations for HBV, HCV and HIV.
Of the 1328 participants included in this analysis, 36% reported recommending against hepatitis B vaccination for children, including 33% of paediatricians. Among the 70.6% who provided a reason for not recommending HBV vaccine, the most common concern was an adverse vaccine event. Unvaccinated physicians and nurses were more likely to recommend against HBV vaccine (40.4% vs 11.4%, PR 3.54; 95% CI: 2.38, 5.29). Additionally, health care worker age was inversely correlated with recommendations for HBV vaccine with older workers less likely to recommend it.
Vaccinating health care workers against HBV may provide a dual benefit by boosting occupational safety as well as strengthening universal coverage programs for newborns.
PMCID: PMC3544730  PMID: 23256746
Hepatitis B; Vaccine; Safety; Health Care Worker; Newborns
5.  Absence of reproducibly detectable low-level HIV viremia in highly exposed seronegative men and women. 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(5):619-623.
Transient HIV infections have been invoked to account for the cellular immune responses detected in highly virus-exposed individuals who have remained HIV seronegative. We tested for very low levels of HIV RNA in 524 seronegative plasma samples from 311 highly exposed women and men from 3 longitudinal HIV cohorts.
2073 transcription mediated amplification (TMA) HIV RNA tests were performed for an average of 3.95 TMA assays per plasma sample. Quadruplicate TMA assays, analyzing a total of 2 ml of plasma, provided an estimated sensitivity of 3.5 HIV RNA copies/ml.
Four samples from subjects who did not sero-convert within the following six months were positive for HIV RNA. For one sample, human polymorphism DNA analysis indicated a sample mix up. Borderline HIV RNA detection signals were detected for the other three positive samples and further replicate TMA testing yielded no positive results. Nested PCR assays (n=254) for HIV proviral DNA on PBMC from these 3 subjects were negative.
Transient viremia was not reproducibly detected in highly HIV exposed seronegative men and women. If transient infections do occur, plasma HIV RNA levels may remain below the detection limits of the sensitive assay used here, be of very short duration, or viral replication may be restricted to mucosal surfaces or their draining lymphoid tissues.
PMCID: PMC3458706  PMID: 21297421
6.  Estonia at the Threshold of the Fourth Decade of the AIDS Era in Europe 
This article describes the trends of HIV/AIDS and related conditions in Estonia during the past decade (2000–2009), with special focus on the potential for epidemic transition. Key transmission determinants and major risk groups are examined and problems and barriers to fighting HIV/AIDS with possible applications in prevention and control are described. Estonian routine data sources and published literature were reviewed, supplemented with information from personal communication with physicians and public health specialists. For comparative European data, international HIV/AIDS and drug addiction surveillance documents, administrative data, and published literature were reviewed. In Eastern Europe (including Estonia) the predominant HIV transmission mode is injection drug use (IDU), closely followed by heterosexual transmission, an increasing risk factor for new cases. Although the contribution of cases acquired by sexual contact with high-risk partners such as IDUs is not known, characteristics of the sexual networks of IDUs may be important in determining the evolution of the HIV/AIDS epidemics in the region. In Estonia, despite major gaps in available data, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is still presumably confined to IDUs (and probably, to their sexual partners). In Eastern Europe, young women in IDU–non-IDU partnerships engaging in unprotected sex potentially serve as a bridge to the general population, yet knowledge of and research into the population characteristics and potential magnitude of bridging are limited. In Estonia, as in other Eastern European countries, HIV prevention and harm reduction initiatives should be tailored not only to the predominantly male HIV-positive IDU population, but also to their noninfected non-IDU female sexual partners.
PMCID: PMC3180763  PMID: 21142588
8.  Outcomes of Universal Access to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in Georgia 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2011;2011:621078.
Since 2004, Georgia achieved universal access to free antiretroviral therapy (ART). A retrospective cohort study was conducted to evaluate the outcomes of Georgia's ART program. The study included adult patients enrolled in the ART program from 2004 through 2009. Of 752 patients, 76% were men, 60% were injection drug users (IDU), 59% had a history of an AIDS-defining illness, and 53% were coinfected with hepatitis C. The median baseline CD4 cell count was 141 cells/mm3. During followup, 152 (20%) patients died, with the majority of deaths occurring within 12 months of ART initiation. Mortality was associated with advanced immunodeficiency or the presence of incurable disease at baseline. Among patients remaining on treatment, the median CD4 gain was 216 cell/mm3 and 86% of patients had viral load <400 copies/ml at the last clinical visit. The Georgia ART program has been successful in treating injection drug users infected with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3065882  PMID: 21490781
9.  Glycated Hemoglobin in Diabetic Women with and Without HIV Infection: Data from the Women's Interagency HIV Study 
Antiviral therapy  2010;15(4):571-577.
Limited data suggest that glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1c; A1C) values may not reflect glycemic control accurately in HIV-infected individuals with diabetes.
We evaluated repeated measures of paired fasting glucose and A1C values in 315 HIV-infected and 109 HIV-uninfected diabetic participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. Generalized estimating equations used log A1C as the outcome variable, with adjustment for log fasting glucose concentration in all models.
An HIV-infected woman on average had 0.9868 times as much A1C (that is, 1.32% lower; 95% confidence interval 0.9734-0.9904) as an HIV-uninfected woman with the same log fasting glucose concentration. In multivariate analysis, HIV serostatus was not associated, but white, other non-black race, and higher red blood cell mean corpuscular volume (MCV) were statistically associated with lower A1C values. Use of diabetic medication was associated with higher A1C values. In multivariate analysis restricted to HIV-infected women, white and other race, higher MCV, and HCV viremia were associated with lower A1C values whereas older age, use of diabetic medications and higher CD4 cell count were associated with higher A1C values. Use of combination antiretroviral therapy, protease inhibitors, zidovudine, stavudine, or abacavir was not associated with A1C values.
We conclude that A1C values were modestly lower in HIV-infected diabetic women relative to HIV-uninfected diabetic women after adjustment for fasting glucose concentration. The difference was abrogated by adjustment for MCV, race, and diabetic medication use. Our data suggest that in clinical practice A1C gives a reasonably accurate refection of glycemic control in HIV-infected diabetic women.
PMCID: PMC2943237  PMID: 20587850
10.  Evaluation of a comprehensive AIDS education curriculum in Hungary – the role of good educators1 
Journal of adolescence  2002;25(5):495-508.
The aim of this research was to evaluate a school-based AIDS education programme in Eastern Europe. Four evaluation segments were undertaken: process and outcome evaluations of the training of AIDS educators and of the educational activities for students. While most AIDS education curricula focus on the content of the education, our findings demonstrate that other aspects — including the characteristics of those educators who appear to be most effective, the way in which education is affected by teachers’ attitudes, and the cultural implications of transferring programmes from one country to another – also need to be considered, especially in international environments.
PMCID: PMC2925669  PMID: 12234556
11.  High-prevalence and high-estimated incidence of HIV infection among new injecting drug users in Estonia: need for large scale prevention programs 
To examine HIV risk behavior and HIV infection among new injectors in Tallinn, Estonia.
Design and methods
Data from two cross-sectional surveys of injecting drug users (IDUs) recruited from a syringe exchange program (N = 162, Study 1) or using respondent driven sampling (N = 350, Study 2). Behavioral surveys were administered; serum samples were collected for HIV testing. Subjects were categorized into new injectors (injecting ≤ 3 years) and long-term injectors (injecting > 3 years).
Twenty-eight of 161 (17%, Study 1) and 73/350 (21%, Study 2) of the study subjects were new injectors. HIV infection was substantial among the newer injectors: HIV prevalence was 50% (Study 1) and 34% (Study 2), and estimated HIV incidence 31/100 PY and 21/100 PY, respectively. In Study 2, new injectors were more likely to be female and ethnic Estonian and less likely to be injecting daily compared with long-term injectors. No significant difference was found among two groups on sharing injecting equipment or reported number of sexual partners.
A continuing HIV epidemic among new injectors is of critical public health concern. Interventions to prevent initiation into injecting drug use and scaling up HIV prevention programs for IDUs in Estonia are of utmost importance.
PMCID: PMC2925676  PMID: 18308743
Estonia; HIV; IDU; injection drug use; new injecting drug users
12.  Czech health two decades on from the Velvet Revolution 
Lancet  2009;375(9710):179-181.
PMCID: PMC2925692  PMID: 19913289
13.  Surveillance of HIV, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus in an Estonian Injection Drug–Using Population: Sensitivity and Specificity of Testing Syringes for Public Health Surveillance 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2005;193(3):455-457.
Surveillance of bloodborne infections among injection drug users (IDUs) can be accomplished by determining the presence of pathogen markers in used syringes. Parallel testing of returned syringes and venous blood from IDUs was conducted to detect antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Syringe surveillance for HIV yielded a sensitivity and specificity of 92% and 89%, respectively, and provided a reasonable estimate of the prevalence of HIV among participants. Because sensitivity for HBV (34%) and HCV (55%) was low, syringe testing may be useful for surveillance of hepatitis over time but not for estimation of prevalence.
PMCID: PMC2917983  PMID: 16388495
14.  Antiretroviral Therapy Exposure and Insulin Resistance in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study 
Evidence suggesting an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected individuals has heightened the need to understand the relation of HIV infection, antiretroviral therapy use, and non–HIV-related factors with insulin resistance (IR).
Prospective study of 1614 HIV-infected and 604 HIV-uninfected participants from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study between October 2000 and March 2007. Homeostasis model assessment (HOMA)–estimated IR at 11,019 semiannual visits.
HIV-infected women reporting highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) had higher median HOMA than HIV-uninfected women {1.20 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11 to 1.30] times higher for those reporting protease inhibitor–containing HAART; 1.10 (95% CI: 1.01 to 1.20) times higher for those reporting non–protease inhibitor–containing HAART}. Among HIV-infected, cumulative exposure to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) of >3 years was associated with HOMA 1.13 (95% CI: 1.02 to 1.25) times higher than the HOMA without any cumulative NRTI exposure. Cumulative exposure to the NRTI stavudine of >1 year was associated with HOMA 1.15 (95% CI: 1.05 to 1.27) times higher than the HOMA without any cumulative stavudine use. Family history of diabetes, hepatitis C virus seropositivity, higher body mass index, or reporting menopause was associated with higher HOMA.
Longer cumulative exposure to NRTI; in particular, stavudine is associated with greater IR in HIV-infected women.
PMCID: PMC2889144  PMID: 19186350
antiretroviral therapy; HIV; HOMA; insulin resistance; nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor; protease inhibitor
17.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Elite Neutralizers: Individuals with Broad and Potent Neutralizing Activity Identified by Using a High-Throughput Neutralization Assay together with an Analytical Selection Algorithm▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2009;83(14):7337-7348.
The development of a rapid and efficient system to identify human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals with broad and potent HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibody responses is an important step toward the discovery of critical neutralization targets for rational AIDS vaccine design. In this study, samples from HIV-1-infected volunteers from diverse epidemiological regions were screened for neutralization responses using pseudovirus panels composed of clades A, B, C, and D and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). Initially, 463 serum and plasma samples from Australia, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Zambia were screened to explore neutralization patterns and selection ranking algorithms. Samples were identified that neutralized representative isolates from at least four clade/CRF groups with titers above prespecified thresholds and ranked based on a weighted average of their log-transformed neutralization titers. Linear regression methods selected a five-pseudovirus subset, representing clades A, B, and C and one CRF01_AE, that could identify top-ranking samples with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) neutralization titers of ≥100 to multiple isolates within at least four clade groups. This reduced panel was then used to screen 1,234 new samples from the Ivory Coast, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States, and 1% were identified as elite neutralizers. Elite activity is defined as the ability to neutralize, on average, more than one pseudovirus at an IC50 titer of 300 within a clade group and across at least four clade groups. These elite neutralizers provide promising starting material for the isolation of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to assist in HIV-1 vaccine design.
PMCID: PMC2704778  PMID: 19439467

Results 1-17 (17)