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1.  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(1):3860.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/s12879-014-0702-1
PMCID: PMC4300078  PMID: 25528467
HIV; Tuberculosis; Africa; Anaemia; Haemoglobin; Antiretroviral
2.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-221
PMCID: PMC4012060  PMID: 24758715
Tuberculosis; Infection; Transmission; Adolescents
3.  Mobile phone text messaging for promoting adherence to anti-tuberculosis treatment: a systematic review 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:566.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-566
PMCID: PMC4219402  PMID: 24295439
Mobile phone; Text messages; Tuberculosis treatment; Anti-tubercular agents; Adherence; Compliance
4.  Lipoarabinomannan in urine during tuberculosis treatment: association with host and pathogen factors and mycobacteriuria 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-47
PMCID: PMC3349560  PMID: 22369353
5.  Treatment outcomes in HIV-infected adolescents attending a community-based antiretroviral therapy clinic in South Africa 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-21
PMCID: PMC3295677  PMID: 22273267
antiretroviral; adolescents; outcomes; mortality; virological failure; Africa
6.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-156
PMCID: PMC3130671  PMID: 21631918
7.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-329
PMCID: PMC3000400  PMID: 21078148
8.  Utility of interferon-γ ELISPOT assay responses in highly tuberculosis-exposed patients with advanced HIV infection in South Africa 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-99
PMCID: PMC2031899  PMID: 17725839
9.  CD4 cell count recovery among HIV-infected patients with very advanced immunodeficiency commencing antiretroviral treatment in sub-Saharan Africa 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-59
PMCID: PMC1435908  PMID: 16551345

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