Articles tagged as "Epidemiology"

Valuable lessons can be learned from repeat PEP use in female sex workers

Repeat use of post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV among Nairobi-based female sex workers following sexual exposure.

Izulla P, McKinnon LR, Munyao J, Ireri N, Nagelkerke N, Gakii G, Gelmon L, Nangami M, Kaul R, Kimani J. AIDS Behav. 2015 May 13. [Epub ahead of print]

As ART-based prevention becomes available, effectively targeting these interventions to key populations such as female sex workers (FSW) will be critical. In this study we analyze patterns of repeated post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) access in the context of a large FSW program in Nairobi. During close to 6000 person-years of follow-up, 20% of participants (n = 1119) requested PEP at least once and 3.7% requested PEP more than once. Repeat PEP users were younger, had a higher casual partner volume, and were more likely to use condoms with casual and regular partners, have a regular partner, and test for HIV prior to enrolment. Barriers to PEP included stigma, side effects, and lack of knowledge, suggesting repeated promotion may be required for higher rates of uptake. A small subset of FSW, potentially those with heightened risk perception, showed a higher frequency of PEP use; these individuals may be most amenable to rollout of pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: Antiretroviral therapy based HIV prevention is growing, particularly the use of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which is effective when adherence is high. However, given the challenges associated with adherence, other options are essential. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) following sexual exposure to HIV is an HIV prevention strategy that could be of benefit in some situations, and is recommended for risky exposure settings. This paper describes PEP use among sex workers in Nairobi. In particular, this paper examined repeat PEP use and the characteristics of female sex workers returning for additional courses of PEP. Interestingly, repeat PEP users seemed to perceive that they were at increased risk of HIV and were also more aware of PEP as a prevention option. Individuals who did not use PEP knew little to nothing about it, were afraid of stigma from community members and health care providers, and were concerned about side effects which they knew about from people on HIV treatment. These are essential factors to take into account when developing an implementation programme for future programmes, and especially PrEP which can learn from the past but will undoubtedly forge new paths in HIV prevention implementation and programming. 

Africa
Kenya
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Early postnatal cytomegalovirus infection may predict subsequent HIV transmission through breastfeeding

Effect of cytomegalovirus infection on breastfeeding transmission of HIV and on the health of infants born to HIV-infected mothers.

Chang TS, Wiener J, Dollard SC, Amin MM, Ellington S, Chasela C, Kayira D, Tegha G, Kamwendo D, Jamieson DJ, van der Horst C, Kourtis AP; BAN Study Team. AIDS. 2015 Apr 24;29(7):831-6. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000617

Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection can be acquired in utero or postnatally through horizontal transmission and breastfeeding. The effect of postnatal CMV infection on postnatal HIV transmission is unknown.

Methods: The Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals and Nutrition study, conducted in Malawi, randomized 2369 mothers and their infants to three antiretroviral prophylaxis arms - mother (triple regimen), infant (nevirapine), or neither - for 28 weeks of breastfeeding, followed by weaning. Stored plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cell specimens were available for 492 infants at 24 weeks and were tested with CMV PCR. Available samples from infants who were CMV PCR-positive at 24 weeks were also tested at birth (N = 242), and from infants PCR-negative at 24 weeks were tested at 48 weeks (N = 96). Cox proportional-hazards models were used to determine if CMV infection was associated with infant morbidity, mortality, or postnatal HIV acquisition.

Results: At 24 weeks of age, CMV DNA was detected in 345/492 infants (70.1%); the estimated congenital CMV infection rate was 2.3%, and the estimated rate of CMV infection at 48 weeks was 78.5%. CMV infection at 24 weeks was associated with subsequent HIV acquisition through breastfeeding or infant death between 24 and 48 weeks of age (hazard ratio 4.27, P = 0.05).

Conclusion: Most breastfed infants of HIV-infected mothers in this resource-limited setting are infected with CMV by 24 weeks of age. Early CMV infection may be a risk factor for subsequent infant HIV infection through breastfeeding, pointing to the need for comprehensive approaches in order to achieve elimination of breastfeeding transmission of HIV.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Studies have illustrated that mother-to-child HIV transmission is more frequent among neonates with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. Infants co-infected with HIV and CMV have higher rates of HIV disease progression and death. This study using data and samples of infant plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells are from the Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals and Nutrition (BAN) randomised, controlled clinical trial (RCT). The study examines whether postnatal CMV infection in the infant is associated with HIV transmission through breastfeeding. The study investigates the relationship between postnatal antiretroviral therapy and postnatal CMV acquisition. The data suggests that early postnatal CMV infection in an HIV-exposed uninfected infant may predict subsequent HIV transmission through breastfeeding and infant mortality. The study confirmed previous findings that approximately 70% of breastfed infants born to mothers living with HIV in low-income settings acquire CMV infection by six months of age. However, the study did not find an association between maternal antiretroviral therapy and the risk of postnatal CMV transmission. It is important to note that in the RCT, antiretroviral therapy was only initiated at the onset of labour.  The effect of maternal antiretroviral therapy taken earlier in pregnancy on the prevention or delay of CMV acquisition remains unknown, although a few observational studies have found that maternal antiretroviral therapy reduces congenital and early postnatal CMV infection. It is biologically plausible that antiretroviral therapy reduces or prevents CMV reactivation in the mother, thus preventing transient episodes of maternal CMV viraemia. This mechanism could explain reduced CMV transmission to the infant (be that before or after birth). HIV-exposed but uninfected infants experience higher morbidity and mortality; any such disease attributable to CMV could therefore potentially be reduced by initiation of antiretroviral therapy earlier in pregnancy.

Africa
Malawi
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Timing of ART for HIV-associated TB – still room to improve and to save lives

The impact of implementation fidelity on mortality under a CD4-stratified timing strategy for antiretroviral therapy in patients with tuberculosis.

Patel MR, Westreich D, Yotebieng M, Nana M, Eron JJ, Behets F, Van Rie A. Am J Epidemiol. 2015 May 1;181(9):714-22. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu338. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Among patients with tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus type 1, CD4-stratified initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is recommended, with earlier ART in those with low CD4 counts. However, the impact of implementation fidelity to this recommendation is unknown. We examined a prospective cohort study of 395 adult patients diagnosed with tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus between August 2007 and November 2009 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. ART was to be initiated after 1 month of tuberculosis treatment at a CD4 count of <100 cells/mm3 or World Health Organization stage 4 (other than extrapulmonary tuberculosis) and after 2 months of tuberculosis treatment at a CD4 count of 100-350 cells/mm3. We used the parametric g-formula to estimate the impact of implementation fidelity on 6-month mortality. Observed implementation fidelity was low (46%); 54% of patients either experienced delays in ART initiation or did not initiate ART, which could be avoided under perfect implementation fidelity. The observed mortality risk was 12.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 8.2, 15.7); under complete (counterfactual) implementation fidelity, the mortality risk was 7.8% (95% CI: 2.4, 12.3), corresponding to a risk reduction of 4.2% (95% CI: 0.3, 8.1) and a preventable fraction of 35.1% (95% CI: 2.9, 67.9). Strategies to achieve high implementation fidelity to CD4-stratified ART timing are needed to maximize survival benefit.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: There is clear evidence from randomised controlled trials that the early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) during TB treatment reduces mortality in HIV/TB co-infected people. That evidence has translated to policy and most countries now follow WHO guidelines which recommend treatment within eight weeks of starting TB treatment, and within two weeks in people with the most advanced immunodeficiency (CD4+ T-cell count <50cells/µL).

This paper presents a post hoc analysis from an intervention study evaluating integrated, nurse-delivered TB/HIV care in primary health care clinics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The parent study illustrated that integrated care led to better uptake of ART and lower mortality, in comparison to a historical cohort prior to integration. However, mortality was still substantial - around one in 10 participants died within six months - and under half of all participants failed to start ART on time. The definition of fidelity was quite tight, only five days allowed beyond the one-month or two-month timing threshold.

Analysis suggested that around a third of the mortality could have been prevented if ART had been started within the defined time periods. As in most studies, mortality was strongly associated with low CD4+ T-cell count (<50cells/µL) and this group were responsible for much of what was considered to be unavoidable mortality. Additional strategies are clearly necessary to improve outcomes in this group alongside broader strategies to promote earlier diagnosis of HIV and TB. 

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Africa
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Hepatitis B virus co-infection: a challenge to successful ART in sub-Saharan Africa?

Prevalence of HIV and hepatitis B virus co-infection in sub-Saharan Africa and the potential impact and program feasibility of hepatitis B surface antigen screening in resource-limited settings.

Stabinski L, OʼConnor S, Barnhart M, Kahn RJ, Hamm TE. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Apr 15;68 Suppl 3:S274-85. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000496.

Background: Screening people living with HIV for hepatitis B virus (HBV) co-infection is recommended in resource-rich settings to optimize HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) and mitigate HBV-related liver disease. This review examines the need, feasibility, and impact of screening for HBV in resource-limited settings (RLS).

Methods: We searched 6 databases to identify peer-reviewed publications between 2007 and 2013 addressing (1) HIV/HBV co-infection frequency in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); (2) performance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) rapid strip assays (RSAs) in RLS; (3) impact of HBV co-infection on morbidity, mortality, or liver disease progression; and/or (4) impact of HBV-suppressive antiretroviral medications as part of ART on at least one of 5 outcomes (mortality, morbidity, HIV transmission, retention in HIV care, or quality of life). We rated the quality of individual articles and summarized the body of evidence and expected impact of each intervention per outcome addressed.

Results: Of 3940 identified studies, 85 were included in the review: 55 addressed HIV/HBV co-infection frequency; 6 described HBsAg RSA performance; and 24 addressed the impact of HIV/HBV co-infection and ART. HIV/HBV frequency in sub-Saharan Africa varied from 0% to >28.4%. RSA performance in RLS showed good, although variable, sensitivity and specificity. Quality of studies ranged from strong to weak. Overall quality of evidence for the impact of HIV/HBV co-infection and ART on morbidity and mortality was fair and good to fair, respectively.

Conclusions: Combined, the body of evidence reviewed suggests that HBsAg screening among people living with HIV could have substantial impact on preventing morbidity and mortality among HIV/HBV co-infected individuals in RLS.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: The routes of transmission for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV are the same, and they frequently co-infect individuals in high HIV prevalence settings. HIV has also been shown to accelerate the progression of HBV. This has important implications for ART programmes, given also the potential for hepatotoxicity of ART. The response of both infections to certain antivirals gives an opportunity to treat both infections simultaneously, but also the potential to engender resistant strains of virus if treatment is optimised for one and not the other.

This paper reviews the evidence that might support inclusion of HBV screening as part of HIV care programmes. No clinical trials have been done in this area, so the review is based on observational studies. The data are incomplete and geographically patchy, largely from Nigeria and South Africa. However, this does not prevent the authors from concluding that the co-infection risk is sufficiently high and the consequences of lack of treatment sufficiently severe to consider allocation of scarce resources to identify and manage HBV co-infection in HIV programmes. Appropriate validated screening tools - rapid tests for hepatitis B surface antigen - are available. The potential benefit warrants consideration of this issue in sub-Saharan Africa, and inclusion of HBV surveillance alongside HIV to resolve the paucity of data in most countries. This should be rapidly followed by further consideration of the cost- and risk-benefit of introduction of an HBV screening and treatment programme.

Interested readers might also refer to a review by Matthews et al. (J Clin Virol 2014;6:20-33) which considers similar questions and also discusses hepatitis C co-infection.

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Africa
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Hepatitis B virus co-infection: a challenge to successful ART in sub-Saharan Africa?

Prevalence of HIV and hepatitis B virus co-infection in sub-Saharan Africa and the potential impact and program feasibility of hepatitis B surface antigen screening in resource-limited settings.

Stabinski L, OʼConnor S, Barnhart M, Kahn RJ, Hamm TE. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Apr 15;68 Suppl 3:S274-85. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000496.

Background: Screening people living with HIV for hepatitis B virus (HBV) co-infection is recommended in resource-rich settings to optimize HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) and mitigate HBV-related liver disease. This review examines the need, feasibility, and impact of screening for HBV in resource-limited settings (RLS).

Methods: We searched 6 databases to identify peer-reviewed publications between 2007 and 2013 addressing (1) HIV/HBV co-infection frequency in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); (2) performance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) rapid strip assays (RSAs) in RLS; (3) impact of HBV co-infection on morbidity, mortality, or liver disease progression; and/or (4) impact of HBV-suppressive antiretroviral medications as part of ART on at least one of 5 outcomes (mortality, morbidity, HIV transmission, retention in HIV care, or quality of life). We rated the quality of individual articles and summarized the body of evidence and expected impact of each intervention per outcome addressed.

Results: Of 3940 identified studies, 85 were included in the review: 55 addressed HIV/HBV co-infection frequency; 6 described HBsAg RSA performance; and 24 addressed the impact of HIV/HBV co-infection and ART. HIV/HBV frequency in sub-Saharan Africa varied from 0% to >28.4%. RSA performance in RLS showed good, although variable, sensitivity and specificity. Quality of studies ranged from strong to weak. Overall quality of evidence for the impact of HIV/HBV co-infection and ART on morbidity and mortality was fair and good to fair, respectively.

Conclusions: Combined, the body of evidence reviewed suggests that HBsAg screening among people living with HIV could have substantial impact on preventing morbidity and mortality among HIV/HBV co-infected individuals in RLS.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: The routes of transmission for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV are the same, and they frequently co-infect individuals in high HIV prevalence settings. HIV has also been shown to accelerate the progression of HBV. This has important implications for ART programmes, given also the potential for hepatotoxicity of ART. The response of both infections to certain antivirals gives an opportunity to treat both infections simultaneously, but also the potential to engender resistant strains of virus if treatment is optimised for one and not the other.

This paper reviews the evidence that might support inclusion of HBV screening as part of HIV care programmes. No clinical trials have been done in this area, so the review is based on observational studies. The data are incomplete and geographically patchy, largely from Nigeria and South Africa. However, this does not prevent the authors to conclude that the co-infection risk is sufficiently high and the consequences of lack of treatment sufficiently severe to consider allocation of scarce resources to identify and manage HBV co-infection in HIV programmes. Appropriate validated screening tools such as rapid tests for hepatitis B surface antigen are available. The potential benefit warrants consideration of this issue in sub-Saharan Africa, and inclusion of HBV surveillance alongside HIV to resolve the paucity of data in most countries. This should be rapidly followed by further consideration of the cost- and risk-benefit of introduction of an HBV screening and treatment programme.

Interested readers might also refer to a review by Matthews et al. (J Clin Virol 2014;6:20-33) which considers similar questions and also discusses hepatitis C co-infection.

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Africa
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Need for further water, sanitation and hygiene programmes among people living with HIV

The impact of water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions on the health and well-being of people living with HIV: a systematic review.

Yates T, Lantagne D, Mintz E, Quick R. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Apr 15;68 Suppl 3:S318-30. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000487.

Background: Access to improved water supply and sanitation is poor in low-income and middle-income countries. Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) experience more severe diarrhea, hospitalizations, and deaths from diarrhea because of waterborne pathogens than immunocompetent populations, even when on antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Methods: We examined the existing literature on the impact of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions on PLHIV for these outcomes: (1) mortality, (2) morbidity, (3) retention in HIV care, (4) quality of life, and (5) prevention of ongoing HIV transmission. Cost-effectiveness was also assessed. Relevant abstracts and articles were gathered, reviewed, and prioritized by thematic outcomes of interest. Articles meeting inclusion criteria were summarized in a grid for comparison.

Results: We reviewed 3355 citations, evaluated 132 abstracts, and read 33 articles. The majority of the 16 included articles focused on morbidity, with less emphasis on mortality. Contaminated water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygienic practices in homes of PLHIV increase the risk of diarrhea, which can result in increased viral load, decreased CD4 counts, and reduced absorption of nutrients and antiretroviral medication. We found WASH programming, particularly water supply, household water treatment, and hygiene interventions, reduced morbidity. Data were inconclusive on mortality. Research gaps remain in retention in care, quality of life, and prevention of ongoing HIV transmission. Compared with the standard threshold of 3 times GDP per capita, WASH interventions were cost-effective, particularly when incorporated into complementary programs.

Conclusions: Although research is required to address behavioral aspects, evidence supports that WASH programming is beneficial for PLHIV.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Researchers, implementers, and policy makers have been examining how to better integrate programmes with overlapping burdens of morbidity and mortality. This paper illustrates how access to clean water and good sanitation practices, or lack thereof, can impact the health of people living with HIV. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programmes can improve the negative effects poor water quality and bad sanitation have on people living with HIV. They reduce or even eliminate diarrheal infections, which allow for better absorption of HIV treatment medication that leads to a reduction in viral load and increased CD4 counts. While this systematic review revealed evidence on the reduced burden of morbidity that WASH programmes can confer, little has been done in the way of research linking WASH programmes to mortality in people living with HIV, nor how they may affect adherence or retention in care. Side effects of HIV treatment is a common reason why people stop taking medications, and common side effects are nausea and diarrhoea. It is possible that intestinal issues caused by unsafe drinking water could exacerbate the impact of side effects on people already experiencing them, therefore reducing motivation to continue taking their ARVs. This paper also suggests that synergies in cost sharing and increasing cost effectiveness could be achieved by integrating programmes. However further research is necessary to fully understand the logistical and cost implications.

 

Africa, Asia
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Re-focusing the response in Niger – a greater need for sex worker programmes?

Reorienting the HIV response in Niger toward sex work interventions: from better evidence to targeted and expanded practice. 

Fraser N, Kerr CC, Harouna Z, Alhousseini Z, Cheikh N, Gray R, Shattock A, Wilson DP, Haacker M, Shubber Z, Masaki E, Karamoko D, Görgens M. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Mar 1;68 Suppl 2:S213-20. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000456.

Background: Niger's low-burden, sex-work-driven HIV epidemic is situated in a context of high economic and demographic growth. Resource availability of HIV/AIDS has been decreasing recently. In 2007-2012, only 1% of HIV expenditure was for sex work interventions, but an estimated 37% of HIV incidence was directly linked to sex work in 2012. The Government of Niger requested assistance to determine an efficient allocation of its HIV resources and to strengthen HIV programming for sex workers. 

Methods: Optima, an integrated epidemiologic and optimization tool, was applied using local HIV epidemic, demographic, programmatic, expenditure, and cost data. A mathematical optimization algorithm was used to determine the best resource allocation for minimizing HIV incidence and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) over 10 years. 

Results: Efficient allocation of the available HIV resources, to minimize incidence and DALYs, would increase expenditure for sex work interventions from 1% to 4%-5%, almost double expenditure for antiretroviral treatment and for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and reduce expenditure for HIV programs focusing on the general population. Such an investment could prevent an additional 12% of new infections despite a budget of less than half of the 2012 reference year. Most averted infections would arise from increased funding for sex work interventions. 

Conclusions: This allocative efficiency analysis makes the case for increased investment in sex work interventions to minimize future HIV incidence and DALYs. Optimal HIV resource allocation combined with improved program implementation could have even greater HIV impact. Technical assistance is being provided to make the money invested in sex work programs work better and help Niger to achieve a cost-effective and sustainable HIV response.

Abstract access  

Editor’s notes: Niger has a low-level HIV epidemic concentrated in key populations such as female sex workers, with prevalence levels of 17% in 2011. Only around 23% of female sex workers report using a condom at every sexual act, making them a highly vulnerable group. Additionally there are barriers to using the health centres such as service costs, and the geographic distance.

This article summarizes the HIV epidemic and response situation in Niger with a focus on female sex workers, including modelled trends using Optima. It then presents new evidence on different resource allocation scenarios and the projected impact on the HIV epidemic. Optima, a deterministic mathematical model for HIV optimization and prioritization, was applied to local epidemiologic, demographic, programmatic, expenditure, and cost data. 

The optimization function uses an algorithm to find the best allocation of resources to meet the objective of either minimizing HIV incidence or disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) until 2024. Contrary to the current approach of allocating 31% of spending to the general population and less than 1% to female sex workers, the Optima function advocates increased spending on antiretroviral therapy from 27% to 48%. Optima supports a focussed approach to reduce HIV incidence in female sex workers including mapping populations and a “programme intelligence” approach akin to that implemented in India and Nigeria.   

Africa, Asia
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Prevention services need to focus on newly-started sex workers in South India

Changes in HIV and syphilis prevalence among female sex workers from three serial crosssectional surveys in Karnataka state, South India. 

Isac S, Ramesh BM, Rajaram S, Washington R, Bradley JE, Reza-Paul S, Beattie TS, Alary M. BMJ Open. 2015 Mar 27;5(3):e007106. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007106.

Objectives: This paper examined trends over time in condom use, and the prevalences of HIV and syphilis, among female sex workers (FSWs) in South India. 

Design: Data from three rounds of cross-sectional surveys were analysed, with HIV and high-titre syphilis prevalence as outcome variables. Multivariable analysis was applied to examine changes in prevalence over time. 

Setting: Five districts in Karnataka state, India. 

Participants: 7015 FSWs were interviewed over three rounds of surveys (round 1=2277; round 2=2387 and round 3=2351). Women who reported selling sex in exchange for money or gifts in the past month, and aged between 18 and 49 years, were included. 

Interventions: The surveys were conducted to monitor a targeted HIV prevention programme during 2004-2012. The main interventions included peer-led community outreach, services for the treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, and empowering FSWs through community mobilisation.  

Results: HIV prevalence declined significantly from rounds 1 to 3, from 19.6% to 10.8%

(adjusted OR (AOR)=0.48, p<0.001); high-titre syphilis prevalence declined from 5.9% to 2.4% (AOR=0.50, p<0.001). Reductions were observed in most substrata of FSWs, although reductions among new sex workers, and those soliciting clients using mobile phones or from home, were not statistically significant. Condom use 'always' with occasional clients increased from 73% to 91% (AOR=1.9, p<0.001), with repeat clients from 52% to 86% (AOR=5.0, p<0.001) and with regular partners from 12% to 30% (AOR=4.2, p<0.001). Increased condom use was associated with exposure to the programme. However, condom use with regular partners remained low. 

Conclusions: The prevalences of HIV infection and high-titre syphilis among FSWs have steadily declined with increased condom use. Further reductions in prevalence will require intensification of prevention efforts for new FSWs and those soliciting clients using mobile phones or from home, as well as increasing condom use in the context of regular partnerships.

Abstract   Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: The HIV epidemic in India has remained largely concentrated in key populations, particularly among female sex workers. One of the most high profile HIV prevention efforts in India has been the Avahan AIDS initiative, which in Karnataka State has reached over 60 000 female sex workers since 2004. The initiative involves peer-mediated safer sex communications, intensive management of sexually transmitted infections, and facilitation of safer sex environments. In the final round of a repeat cross-sectional survey conducted between 2004 and 2011, investigators found that nearly all female sex workers were contacted by a peer educator, had seen a condom demonstration, or had visited a programme clinic. In that time, the prevalence of HIV fell from 19.6% to 10.8% (P<0.01) and the prevalence of new syphilis infections fell from 5.9% to 2.4% (P<0.01). However, HIV prevalence among new female sex workers remained high, reflecting the challenges in reaching women starting sex work before they become HIV positive. The programme is notable for its responsiveness to the HIV prevention needs of female sex workers and the current paper confirms continued increases in condom use and preventive services. However, with the changing nature of sex work, current challenges include preventive services for women soliciting sex through mobile phones, and reaching sex workers soon after they start sex work. 

Asia
India
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TB common at post-mortem among medical inpatients in Zambia

Burden of tuberculosis at post mortem in inpatients at a tertiary referral centre in sub-Saharan Africa: a prospective descriptive autopsy study.  

Bates M, Mudenda V, Shibemba A, Kaluwaji J, Tembo J, Kabwe M, Chimoga C, Chilukutu L, Chilufya M, Kapata N, Hoelscher M, Maeurer M, Mwaba P, Zumla A. Lancet Infect Dis. 2015 Mar 9. pii: S1473-3099(15)70058-7. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(15)70058-7. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: Patients with subclinical tuberculosis, smear-negative tuberculosis, extrapulmonary tuberculosis, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and asymptomatic tuberculosis are difficult to diagnose and may be missed at all points of health care. We did an autopsy study to ascertain the burden of tuberculosis at post mortem in medical inpatients at a tertiary care hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.

Methods: Between April 5, 2012, and May 22, 2013, we did whole-body autopsies on inpatients aged at least 16 years who died in the adult inpatient wards at University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia. We did gross pathological and histopathological analysis and processed lung tissues from patients with tuberculosis through the GeneXpert MTB/RIF assay to identify patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The primary outcome measure was specific disease or diseases stratified by HIV status. Secondary outcomes were missed tuberculosis, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and comorbidities with tuberculosis. Data were analysed using Pearson chi2, the Mann-Whitney U test, and binary logistic regression.

Findings: The median age of the 125 included patients was 35 years (IQR 29-43), 80 (64%) were men, and 101 (81%) were HIV positive. 78 (62%) patients had tuberculosis, of whom 66 (85%) were infected with HIV. 35 (45%) of these 78 patients had extrapulmonary tuberculosis. The risk of extrapulmonary tuberculosis was higher among HIV-infected patients than among uninfected patients (adjusted odds ratio 5.14, 95% CI 1.04-24.5; p=0.045). 20 (26%) of 78 patients with tuberculosis were not diagnosed during their life and 13 (17%) had undiagnosed multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Common comorbidities with tuberculosis were pyogenic pneumonia in 26 patients (33%) and anaemia in 15 (19%).

Interpretation: Increased clinical awareness and more proactive screening for tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in inpatient settings are needed. Further autopsy studies are needed to ascertain the generalisability of the findings.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: This paper adds to the growing body of literature documenting a very high burden of tuberculosis (TB) in young adults, the majority of whom are HIV-positive, dying in hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa. Accurate knowledge of causes of death among people living with HIV is critical to developing strategies to reduce mortality. Although autopsies are the gold standard for identifying specific causes of death, autopsy data are sparse. In this study the authors undertook whole-body autopsies in medical inpatient deaths to describe the burden of TB. The GeneXpert MTB/RIF assay was used to assess the prevalence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

The study achieved only 9% coverage of all deaths during the study period, similar to most other studies attempting full autopsy, which has poor acceptability to families. Among 125 included inpatients, the median time from admission to death was seven days. The majority of included people were HIV-positive, all diagnosed before death. The authors report a substantial burden of TB at autopsy, of which 26% (20/78) was only diagnosed after death and 17% (13/78) had undiagnosed multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB. None of the people with MDR-TB was on appropriate treatment. Bacterial pneumonia, found in over one-third of autopsies, was the next most common autopsy finding after TB.

The high burden of undiagnosed TB and MDR-TB at autopsy reported in this study highlights the need for routine screening for TB and MDR-TB among inpatients in TB endemic settings, and for measures to prevent in-hospital TB transmission. Rapid point-of-care diagnostics are necessary to enable early initiation of appropriate treatment. The study also highlights the key role of autopsy in identifying TB at death. This is consistently underestimated by physicians. Less invasive autopsy techniques based on multiple tissue biopsies are more acceptable to families and could have an important role in surveillance for TB as a cause of death. 

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Africa
Zambia
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The need for improved services for minors who sell sex in West Africa

Structural determinants of health among women who started selling sex as minors in Burkina Faso.

Grosso AL, Ketende S, Dam K, Papworth E, Ouedraogo HG, Ky-Zerbo O, Baral S. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Mar 1;68 Suppl 2:S162-70. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000447.

Objectives: To explore the prevalence of and factors associated with initiation of selling sex as a minor.

Design: Data were drawn from cross-sectional studies of adult female sex workers (FSW) recruited through respondent-driven sampling in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.

Methods: FSW completed a questionnaire that included a retrospective question regarding the age at which they started selling sex. Separate multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted for each city to examine associations with initiation of selling sex as a minor (<18 year old), controlling for current age.

Results: Of study participants, 27.8% (194/698) reported selling sex as a minor, ranging from 24.4% (85/349) in Bobo-Dioulasso to 31.2% (85/349) in Ouagadougou. In Ouagadougou, early initiates were more than twice as likely to report someone ever forced them to have sex [age-adjusted odds ratio (aaOR): 2.54, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.53 to 4.23]. In Bobo-Dioulasso, those who started as minors were more likely to report someone ever tortured them (aaOR: 2.29, 95% CI: 1.28 to 4.10). In both cities, early initiates were more likely to not use a condom with a client if offered more money (Ouagadougou aaOR: 2.34, 95% CI: 1.23 to 4.47; Bobo-Dioulasso aaOR: 2.37, 95% CI: 1.29 to 4.36). In Ouagadougou, women who had started selling sex at a young age were half as likely to have been tested for HIV more than once ever (aaOR: 0.50, 95% CI: 0.26 to 0.94). In Bobo-Dioulasso, early initiates were less likely to attend HIV-related talks or meetings (aaOR: 0.56, 95% CI: 0.33 to 0.97).

Conclusions: A substantial proportion of FSW in Burkina Faso started selling sex as minors. The findings show that there are heightened vulnerabilities associated with selling sex below age 18 years, including physical and sexual violence, client-related barriers to condom use, and lower access to HIV-related services.

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Editor’s notes: Young girls in sub-Saharan Africa are at increased risk of acquiring HIV compared with their male peers. Studies have identified both individual-level and structural-level risks for HIV infection among young girls, including inconsistent condom use and violence. Female sex workers who start selling sex as minors are particularly vulnerable to these risks. In West and central Africa, HIV infection is concentrated among key populations, such as female sex workers, with pooled HIV prevalence estimated to be 34.9%. Despite this, there have been relatively few studies of girls who sell sex in sub-Saharan Africa compared to multiple studies that have been conducted in Asia and the Americas. This is one of the first studies comparing early and later initiation of selling sex in West Africa. This study, using data from cross-sectional studies, investigated the structural determinants of health associated with the start of selling sex as a minor among female sex workers in Burkina Faso. The investigators found that almost a third of female sex workers had started selling sex as minors, and early initiation of selling sex was associated with a range of behavioural risk factors. In addition these women were more likely to experience social and structural vulnerabilities including limited access to health services, and violence. The study highlights the need to provide HIV services for minors who sell sex in sub-Saharan Africa, and to prevent sexual exploitation of children.

Africa
Burkina Faso
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