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1.  Antiretroviral treatment reverses HIV-associated anemia in rural Tanzania 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:190.
Background
HIV-associated anemia is common and associated with poor prognosis. However, its response to antiretroviral treatment (ART) in rural Africa is poorly understood.
Methods
HIV-infected adults (≥15 years) who enrolled in HIV care at Haydom Lutheran Hospital in northern Tanzania were included in the study. The effect of ART (zidovudine/stavudine + lamivudine + efavirenz/nevirapine) on HIV-associated anemia was studied in a subset of patients who were anemic at the time they started ART and had a follow-up hemoglobin measurement 12 months later. Pregnant women were excluded from the study, as were women who had given birth within the past 6 weeks. Anemia was defined as hemoglobin <12 g/dL in women and <13 g/dL in men. We applied paired sample T-tests to compare hemoglobin levels before and one year after ART initiation, and logistic regression models to identify predictors of persistent anemia.
Results
At enrollment, mean hemoglobin was 10.3 g/dL, and 649 of 838 patients (77.4%) were anemic. Of the anemic patients, 254 (39.1%) had microcytosis and hypochromia. Among 102 patients who were anemic at ART initiation and had a follow-up hemoglobin measurement after 12 months, the mean hemoglobin increased by 2.5 g/dL (P < 0.001); however, 39 patients (38.2%) were still anemic after 12 months of ART. Independent predictors of persistent anemia were mean cell volume in the lower quartile (<76.0 fL; Odds Ratio [OR] 4.34; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22-15.5) and a zidovudine-containing initial regimen (OR 2.91; 95% CI 1.03-8.19).
Conclusions
Most patients had anemia at enrollment, of whom nearly 40% had microcytosis and hypochromia suggestive of iron deficiency. The mean hemoglobin increased significantly in patients who received ART, but one third were still anemic 12 months after ART initiation indicating that additional interventions to treat HIV-associated anemia in rural Africa might be warranted, particularly in patients with microcytosis and those treated with zidovudine.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-190
PMCID: PMC3145581  PMID: 21745396
2.  Virological efficacy and emergence of drug resistance in adults on antiretroviral treatment in rural Tanzania 
Background
Virological response to antiretroviral treatment (ART) in rural Africa is poorly described. We examined virological efficacy and emergence of drug resistance in adults receiving first-line ART for up to 4 years in rural Tanzania.
Methods
Haydom Lutheran Hospital has provided ART to HIV-infected patients since October 2003. A combination of stavudine or zidovudine with lamivudine and either nevirapine or efavirenz is the standard first-line regimen. Nested in a longitudinal cohort study of patients consecutively starting ART, we carried out a cross-sectional virological efficacy survey between November 2007 and June 2008. HIV viral load was measured in all adults who had completed at least 6 months first-line ART, and genotypic resistance was determined in patients with viral load >1000 copies/mL.
Results
Virological response was measured in 212 patients, of whom 158 (74.5%) were women, and median age was 35 years (interquartile range [IQR] 29–43). Median follow-up time was 22.3 months (IQR 14.0–29.9). Virological suppression, defined as <400 copies/mL, was observed in 187 patients (88.2%). Overall, prevalence of ≥1 clinically significant resistance mutation was 3.9, 8.4, 16.7 and 12.5% in patients receiving ART for 1, 2, 3 and 4 years, respectively. Among those successfully genotyped, the most frequent mutations were M184I/V (64%), conferring resistance to lamivudine, and K103N (27%), Y181C (27%) and G190A (27%), conferring resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), whereas 23% had thymidine analogue mutations (TAMs), associated with cross-resistance to all nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Dual-class resistance, i.e. resistance to both NRTIs and NNRTIs, was found in 64%.
Conclusion
Virological suppression rates were good up to 4 years after initiating ART in a rural Tanzanian hospital. However, drug resistance increased with time, and dual-class resistance was common, raising concerns about exhaustion of future antiretroviral drug options. This study might provide a useful forecast of drug resistance and demand for second-line antiretroviral drugs in rural Africa in the coming years.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-108
PMCID: PMC2713244  PMID: 19583845
3.  Immunohaematological reference values in human immunodeficiency virus-negative adolescent and adults in rural northern Tanzania 
Background
The amount of CD4 T cells is used for monitoring HIV progression and improvement, and to make decisions to start antiretroviral therapy and prophylactic drugs for opportunistic infections. The aim of this study was to determine normal reference values for CD4 T cells, lymphocytes, leucocytes and haemoglobin level in healthy, HIV negative adolescents and adults in rural northern Tanzania.
Methods
A cross sectional study was conducted from September 2006 to March 2007 in rural northern Tanzania. Participants were recruited from voluntary HIV counselling and testing clinics. Patients were counselled for HIV test and those who consented were tested for HIV. Clinical screening was done, and blood samples were collected for CD4 T cell counts and complete blood cell counts.
Results
We enrolled 102 participants, forty two (41.2%) males and 60 (58.8%) females. The mean age was 32.6 ± 95% CI 30.2–35.0. The mean absolute CD4 T cell count was 745.8 ± 95% CI 695.5–796.3, absolute CD8 T cells 504.6 ± 95% CI 461.7–547.5, absolute leukocyte count 5.1 ± 95% CI 4.8–5.4, absolute lymphocyte count 1.8 ± 95% CI 1.7–1.9, and haemoglobin level 13.2 ± 95% CI 12.7–13.7. Females had significantly higher mean absolute CD4 T cell count (p = 0.008), mean absolute CD8 T cell count (p = 0.009) and significantly lower mean haemoglobin level than males (p = 0.003)
Conclusion
Immunohaematological values found in this study were different from standard values for western countries. Females had significantly higher mean CD4 T cell counts and lower mean haemoglobin levels than males. This raises the issue of the appropriateness of the present reference values and guidelines for monitoring HIV/AIDS patients in Tanzania.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-1
PMCID: PMC2630915  PMID: 19144106
4.  Predictors of mortality in HIV-infected patients starting antiretroviral therapy in a rural hospital in Tanzania 
Background
Studies of antiretroviral therapy (ART) programs in Africa have shown high initial mortality. Factors contributing to this high mortality are poorly described. The aim of the present study was to assess mortality and to identify predictors of mortality in HIV-infected patients starting ART in a rural hospital in Tanzania.
Methods
This was a cohort study of 320 treatment-naïve adults who started ART between October 2003 and November 2006. Reliable CD4 cell counts were not available, thus ART initiation was based on clinical criteria in accordance with WHO and Tanzanian guidelines. Kaplan-Meier models were used to estimate mortality and Cox proportional hazards models to identify predictors of mortality.
Results
Patients were followed for a median of 10.9 months (IQR 2.9–19.5). Overall, 95 patients died, among whom 59 died within 3 months of starting ART. Estimated mortality was 19.2, 29.0 and 40.7% at 3, 12 and 36 months, respectively. Independent predictors of mortality were severe anemia (hemoglobin <8 g/dL; adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 9.20; 95% CI 2.05–41.3), moderate anemia (hemoglobin 8–9.9 g/dL; AHR 7.50; 95% CI 1.77–31.9), thrombocytopenia (platelet count <150 × 109/L; AHR 2.30; 95% CI 1.33–3.99) and severe malnutrition (body mass index <16 kg/m2; AHR 2.12; 95% CI 1.06–4.24). Estimated one year mortality was 55.2% in patients with severe anemia, compared to 3.7% in patients without anemia (P < 0.001).
Conclusion
Mortality was found to be high, with the majority of deaths occurring within 3 months of starting ART. Anemia, thrombocytopenia and severe malnutrition were strong independent predictors of mortality. A prognostic model based on hemoglobin level appears to be a useful tool for initial risk assessment in resource-limited settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-52
PMCID: PMC2364629  PMID: 18430196
5.  CMV quantitative PCR in the diagnosis of CMV disease in patients with HIV-infection – a retrospective autopsy based study 
Background
Patients with advanced HIV infection at the time of diagnosis and patients not responding to antiretroviral therapy are at risk of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease. Earlier studies of patients with HIV infection have demonstrated that the diagnosis is often first made post-mortem. In recent years new molecular biological tests have become available for diagnosis of CMV disease. Although clinical evaluation of tests for diagnosis of CMV disease in HIV-infected individuals is suboptimal without autopsy, no results from such studies have been published. The aim of this study was to explore the diagnostic utility of CMV quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in plasma from HIV and CMV seropositive patients who died during the period 1991–2002 and in whom autopsy was performed.
Methods
Autopsy was performed in all cases, as part of routine evaluation of HIV-infected cases followed at Ullevaal University Hospital. Of 125 patients included, 53 had CMV disease, 37 of whom were first diagnosed at autopsy. CMV disease was diagnosed either by ophthalmoscopic findings typical of CMV retinitis, biopsy or autopsy. One or two plasma samples taken prior to the first diagnosis of CMV disease (alive or at autopsy) or death without CMV disease were analysed by CMV quantitative PCR. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were calculated for different CMV viral load cut-offs and according to detection of viraemia in one versus two samples.
Results
Twenty-seven of 53 patients with CMV disease (51%) and 10 of 72 patients without CMV disease (14%) had detectable viraemia in at least one sample. Sensitivity and negative predictive value (NPV) of the test, maximised with a cut-off at the test's limit of detection of CMV viraemia (400 copies/mL), were 47% and 70%, respectively. With cut-off at 10 000 copies/mL, specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) were 100%. With a requirement for CMV viraemia in two samples, specificity and PPV were 100% in patients with CMV viraemia above the limit of detection.
Conclusion
Our results indicate that quantitative CMV PCR is best used to rule in, rather than to rule out CMV disease in HIV-infected individuals at high risk.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-127
PMCID: PMC2194717  PMID: 17986346

Results 1-5 (5)