Articles tagged as "Gender"

‘Scared of going there’ – barriers to HIV treatment for pregnant women in Tanzania

Stigma, facility constraints, and personal disbelief: why women disengage from HIV care during and after pregnancy in Morogoro region, Tanzania.

McMahon SA, Kennedy CE, Winch PJ, Kombe M, Killewo J, Kilewo C. AIDS Behav. 2016 Aug 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Millions of children are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and the primary mode of these childhood infections is mother-to-child transmission. While existing interventions can virtually eliminate such transmission, in low- and middle-income settings, only 63% of pregnant women living with HIV accessed medicines necessary to prevent transmission. In Tanzania, HIV prevalence among pregnant women is 3.2%. Understanding why HIV-positive women disengage from care during and after pregnancy can inform efforts to reduce the impact of HIV on mothers and young children. Informed by the tenets of Grounded Theory, we conducted qualitative interviews with 40 seropositive postpartum women who had disengaged from care to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). Nearly all women described antiretroviral treatment (ART) as ultimately beneficial but effectively inaccessible given concerns related to stigma. Many women also described how their feelings of health and vitality coupled with concerns about side effects underscored a desire to forgo ART until they deemed it immediately necessary. Relatively fewer women described not knowing or forgetting that they needed to continue their treatment regimens. We present a theory of PMTCT disengagement outlining primary and ancillary barriers. This study is among the first to examine disengagement by interviewing women who had actually discontinued care. We urge that a combination of intervention approaches such as mother-to-mother support groups, electronic medical records with same-day tracing, task shifting, and mobile technology be adapted, implemented, and evaluated within the Tanzanian setting.

Abstract access  

Editor’s notes: The push for universal access to antiretroviral therapy for everyone living with HIV faces many obstacles.  In many parts of the world, pregnant women are offered HIV testing as a part of antenatal care. Treatment is then offered if a woman is found to be HIV-positive. Many women accept this care, having been provided with the information that this is beneficial for their baby and also themselves. Some women who accept treatment take themselves out of care. This can be detrimental not only for the HIV status of their baby, but also for their general antenatal care. As the authors of this paper note, there is a growing body of literature that describes losses to care from the provider perspective. There are also a number of papers about women who have accepted care, who describe why others refuse treatment.  It is unusual to find detailed findings from interviews with women who have dropped out of or refused HIV treatment while pregnant. While the findings are not particularly surprising, the authors of this paper have captured the individual reasons why the 40 women interviewed in their study, left or never entered care. The reasons given underline the challenge of ‘prompt treatment’. Many women were not ready for immediate treatment.  Fears of the clinic layout ‘betraying’ a woman’s status are described. So too are the negative attitudes of health providers as well as family and community members. The authors provide an excellent example of how good qualitative research, conducted and analysed in an exemplary manner, offers valuable insights. This paper provides valuable information on an often hidden minority of women who are not ready or able ‘to test and treat’.

Africa
United Republic of Tanzania
  • share
0 comments.

Research on intimate partner violence prevention - complex ethical issues

Ethical challenges of randomized violence intervention trials: examining the SHARE intervention in Rakai, Uganda.

Wagman JA, Paul A, Namatovu F, Ssekubugu R, Nalugoda F. Psychol Violence. 2016 Jul;6(3):442-451.

Objective: We identify complexities encountered, including unanticipated crossover between trial arms and inadequate 'standard of care' violence services, during a cluster randomized trial (CRT) of a community-level intimate partner violence (IPV) and HIV prevention intervention in Uganda.

Methods: Concepts in public health ethics - beneficence, social value of research, fairness, standard of care, and researcher responsibilities for post-trial benefits - are used to critically reflect on lessons learned and guide discussion on practical and ethical challenges of violence intervention CRTs.

Results: Existing ethical guidelines provide incomplete guidance for responding to unexpected crossover in CRTs providing IPV services. We struggled to balance duty of care with upholding trial integrity, and identifying and providing appropriate standard of care. While we ultimately offered short-term IPV services to controls, we faced additional challenges related to sustaining services beyond the 'short-term' and post-trial.

Conclusion: Studies evaluating community-level violence interventions, including those combined with HIV reduction strategies, are limited yet critical for developing evidence-based approaches for effectively preventing IPV. Although CRTs are a promising design, further guidance is needed to implement trials that avoid introducing tensions between validity of findings, researchers' responsibilities to protect participants, and equitable distribution of CRT benefits.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: Data from 81 countries indicate that 30% of women aged 15 and above have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Settings with the highest intimate partner violence prevalence were found to be in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by HIV.  Intimate partner violence is now widely accepted to be both a precursor to and sequelae of HIV infection. In response, a growing number of combination intimate partner violence and HIV prevention programmes have been implemented and systematically evaluated through randomised trials. The authors of this paper discuss some of the practical, ethical and safety challenges introduced by randomised trials on violence prevention, drawing on experience from a project in rural Uganda.

International guidelines have been established for the ethical conduct of biomedical research involving human subjects. The subject of violence against women and the method of randomised controlled trials are not easily resolved with these standard guidelines. In response, specialised recommendations for conducting safe and ethical population-based survey research on violence against women have been developed. These guidelines are an important development, but randomised trials to evaluate intimate partner violence prevention programmes face practical challenges in responding to common research ethics and safety considerations. These include: what to offer control communities in a trial investigating the optimal delivery approach for an activity likely to be effective in a setting with no standard of care. This needs to be done while maintaining the integrity of the study.

Drawing from their experience of the SHARE trial in the Rakai District in Uganda, the authors offer three reflections from lessons learned. (1) Ongoing need to formally update programmes that address multiple and overlapping vulnerabilities of individuals experiencing intimate partner violence and at risk of, or living with, HIV. (2) Cluster-randomised trials are a promising approach for programme evaluation but introduce numerous challenges with practical and ethical implications. (3) Given widespread underreporting of intimate partner violence, evaluation of violence programmes may have particularly high levels of unanticipated demand. The authors advocate for a framework of relevant considerations to be developed to guide researchers working on activities to reduce intimate partner violence. These guidelines should address potentially common challenges. They also encourage researchers to share field lessons arising from their studies in order to a) contribute to the development of this framework b) for revising and improving guidelines for the ethical conduct of intimate partner violence programmes in low resource settings.

Africa
Uganda
  • share
0 comments.

Antiretroviral therapy: being reborn into uncertainty

What will become of me if they take this away? Zimbabwean women's perceptions of "free" ART.

Gona CM, McGee E, DeMarco R. J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2016 May 13. pii: S1055-3290(16)30040-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jana.2016.05.001. [Epub ahead of print]

The evolution of antiretroviral therapies (ART) has redefined HIV infection from a life-threatening disease to a chronic manageable condition. Despite ART, HIV infection remains a serious health burden in Zimbabwe, particularly among women of reproductive age. In this interpretive phenomenology study, we interviewed 17 women with advanced HIV infection to uncover and understand their experiences of living with HIV infection in the ART era. Two themes (knowing the restorative power of ART and the heavy burden of being infected with HIV) reflected the women's experiences. ART brought physical and mental relief, but did not change the sobering reality of poverty or the challenges posed by the infective nature of HIV. The heavily donor-funded Zimbabwean ART program has been a success story, but there is uncertainty over its long-term sustainability. In resource-limited countries, clinicians and other stakeholders should continue to focus on HIV prevention as the cornerstone of HIV programming.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: In Zimbabwe, as in much of sub-Saharan Africa, women are disproportionately affected by HIV infection. In 2013, women comprised 59% of adults living with HIV. Between 2007 and 2010, women accounted for 64% of people enrolled on ART in the country. Currently only 77% of women in clinical need of ART have access to it with most accessing it through a government and donor-funded ‘cost-free’ programme.  For women in Zimbabwe, living with HIV infection, normal life not only depends on the assurance of uninterrupted access to ART, but also the ability to get married and bear children.

The authors of this paper report on Zimbabwean women’s experiences of living with HIV infection while on ART. The study was nested within an ongoing clinical trial. Women were interviewed through in-depth, individual, face-to-face, open-ended interviews. 

The authors identify a number of important implications of the findings of this study. First, many women, in addition to concerns about their health, also had to contend with the effects of extreme poverty and gender inequality. For HIV treatment programmes to be successful, health care providers and policy makers should incorporate poverty reduction and gender equity components. Second, funding provisions should be put in place to ensure continued supplies of medications in order to reduce the reliance on external donor funding. Third, there is a need to clarify and strengthen policies regarding the continuation of treatment after the completion of a clinical trial to ensure participants’ continued access. Fourth, given the ability of ART to transform HIV into a chronic disease, reproductive health service provision should be prioritized to enable people living with HIV to have children if they wish. Further, and particularly in the light of these challenges, HIV prevention should be centralised as a focal point of HIV programming in order to reduce HIV incidence.

Africa
Zimbabwe
  • share
0 comments.

High rates of intimate partner violence against women in Tanzania

Magnitude and factors associated with intimate partner violence in mainland Tanzania.

Kazaura MR, Ezekiel MJ, Chitama D. BMC Public Health. 2016 Jun 10;16(1):494. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3161-3.

Background: In Tanzania like in many sub-Saharan countries the data about Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) are scarce and diverse. This study aims to determine the magnitude of IPV and associated factors among ever partnered women in urban mainland Tanzania.

Methods: Data for this report were extracted from a big quasi-experimental survey that was used to evaluate MAP (MAP - Men as Partners) project. Data were collected using standard questions as those in big surveys like Demographic and Health Surveys. Data analyses involved descriptive statistics to characterize IPV. Associations between IPV and selected variables were based on Chi-square test and we used binary logistic regression to assess factors associated with women's perpetration to physical IPV and Odds Ratio (OR) as outcome measures with their 95 % confidence intervals (CI).

Results: The lifetime exposure to IPV was 65 % among ever-married or ever-partnered women with 34, 18 and 21 % reporting current emotional, physical and sexual violence respectively. Seven percent of women reported having ever physically abused partners. The prevalence of women perpetration to physical IPV was above 10 % regardless to their exposure to emotional, physical or sexual IPV.

Conclusions: IPV towards women in this study was high. Although rates are low, there is some evidence to suggest that women may also perpetrate IPV against their partners. Based on hypothesis of IPV and HIV co-existence, there should be strategies to address the problem of IPV especially among women.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: This paper adds to the growing evidence of the extent of intimate partner violence in the United Republic of Tanzania perpetrated towards women and some evidence of intimate partner violence against men. The authors conducted a cross-sectional study to evaluate the CHAMPION (Channeling Men’s Positive Involvement in a National HIV/AIDS Response) study in one district in six regions in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, Kagera, Mbeya, Mwanza, Tabora and Ruvuma).

The authors did not find any association between the prevalence of intimate partner violence and demographic characteristics. This was unlike other studies, which found an association between intimate partner violence and age, education and marital status. This may have been due to limitations in the design of the study, but may also suggest that intimate partner violence is widespread across age and education. The paper strengthens calls for more programmes to address intimate partner violence.

Gender
Africa
United Republic of Tanzania
  • share
0 comments.

Increased economic resources can reduce sexual vulnerability in young women

Economic resources and HIV preventive behaviors among school-enrolled young women in rural South Africa (HPTN 068).

Jennings L, Pettifor A, Hamilton E, Ritchwood TD, Xavier Gomez-Olive F, MacPhail C, Hughes J, Selin A, Kahn K. AIDS Behav. 2016 Jun 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Individual economic resources may have greater influence on school-enrolled young women's sexual decision-making than household wealth measures. However, few studies have investigated the effects of personal income, employment, and other financial assets on young women's sexual behaviors. Using baseline data from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 068 study, we examined the association of ever having sex and adopting sexually-protective practices with individual-level economic resources among school-enrolled women, aged 13-20 years (n = 2533). Age-adjusted results showed that among all women employment was associated with ever having sex (OR 1.56, 95 % CI 1.28-1.90). Among sexually-experienced women, paid work was associated with changes in partner selection practices (OR 2.38, 95 % CI 1.58-3.58) and periodic sexual abstinence to avoid HIV (OR 1.71, 95 % CI 1.07-2.75). Having money to spend on oneself was associated with reducing the number of sexual partners (OR 1.94, 95 % CI 1.08-3.46), discussing HIV testing (OR 2.15, 95 % CI 1.13-4.06), and discussing condom use (OR 1.99, 95 % CI 1.04-3.80). Having a bank account was associated with condom use (OR 1.49, 95 % CI 1.01-2.19). Economic hardship was positively associated with ever having sex, but not with sexually-protective behaviors. Maximizing women's individual economic resources may complement future prevention initiatives.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: Young women bear a disproportionate amount of the burden of the HIV epidemic in Africa. There are strong socioeconomic drivers of the epidemic, and gender inequalities and poverty combine to make adolescent girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV infection.  Economic programmes have been used in many countries to influence specific behaviours and to improve health outcomes. However, the evidence of their effectiveness in the context of HIV prevention is mixed. This study examined the association of individual economic resources with sexual behaviour in adolescent girls and young women. Although people with greater economic resources were more likely to have had sex, thus increasing their exposure to HIV infection, they were also more likely to engage in behaviours that were protective against HIV.  Not all economic resources had a positive effect on behaviour, underscoring the fact that sexual decision-making is complex and multi-faceted. The study population was unmarried, in school, and living with at least one parent or guardian, so the findings may not be generalisable to young women who are out of school or in less stable living arrangements. Improving the individual economic status of adolescent girls and young women may have a positive impact on HIV prevention behaviour. However, women’s choices may be constrained by social norms and entrenched inequalities. This study raises further questions about how economic resources may influence HIV risk in young women, but also in young men. 

Africa
South Africa
  • share
0 comments.

Routine programmatic data used to estimate HIV incidence and service uptake among female sex workers in Zimbabwe

Implementation and operational research: cohort analysis of program data to estimate HIV incidence and uptake of HIV-related services among female sex workers in Zimbabwe, 2009-2014.

Hargreaves JR, Mtetwa S, Davey C, Dirawo J, Chidiya S, Benedikt C, Naperiela Mavedzenge S, Wong-Gruenwald R, Hanisch D, Magure T, Mugurungi O, Cowan FM. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 May 1;72(1):e1-8. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000920.

Background: HIV epidemiology and intervention uptake among female sex workers (FSW) in sub-Saharan Africa remain poorly understood. Data from outreach programs are a neglected resource.

Methods: Analysis of data from FSW consultations with Zimbabwe's National Sex Work program, 2009-2014. At each visit, data were collected on sociodemographic characteristics, HIV testing history, HIV tests conducted by the program and antiretroviral (ARV) history. Characteristics at first visit and longitudinal data on program engagement, repeat HIV testing, and HIV seroconversion were analyzed using a cohort approach.

Results: Data were available for 13 360 women, 31 389 visits, 14 579 reported HIV tests, 2750 tests undertaken by the program, and 2387 reported ARV treatment initiations. At first visit, 72% of FSW had tested for HIV; 50% of these reported being HIV positive. Among HIV-positive women, 41% reported being on ARV. 56% of FSW attended the program only once. FSW who had not previously had an HIV-positive test had been tested within the last 6 months 27% of the time during follow-up. After testing HIV positive, women started on ARV at a rate of 23/100 person years of follow-up. Among those with 2 or more HIV tests, the HIV seroconversion rate was 9.8/100 person years of follow-up (95% confidence interval: 7.1 to 15.9).

Conclusions: Individual-level outreach program data can be used to estimate HIV incidence and intervention uptake among FSW in Zimbabwe. Current data suggest very high HIV prevalence and incidence among this group and help identify areas for program improvement. Further methodological validation is required.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: Female sex workers in resource poor regions have been shown to have higher levels of HIV incidence and prevalence than people in the general population. Due to the highly stigmatised and often illegal nature of their work, these individuals are often marginalised in society. This can lead to poor engagement with the HIV testing and treatment programmes provided for the general population. Targeted outreach programmes for female sex workers such as the “Sisters for Change” programme in Zimbabwe described in this paper, aim to improve the engagement with testing and care for this group.

Collecting reliable data from female sex workers using a convenience sampling approach in order to estimate the prevalence of HIV is challenging due to the difficulty in ensuring the survey sample is representative of the wider female sex worker population. An alternative approach is respondent driven sampling (RDS) in which respondents recruit their peers to produce a generally representative sample of hard-to-reach populations. The results from RDS are however complex to analyse and interpret.

This paper presents an alternative approach using routinely collected data. Using the dates of programme visits, HIV tests (conducted both within and outside of the programme) and dates of antiretroviral initiation, the researchers generated estimates of HIV prevalence (number of positive tests/total number of tests) and HIV incidence (time at risk calculated from the first visit to an imputed date of seroconversion). They also identified risk factors associated with socio-demographic parameters or HIV testing history that were associated with a failure to continue engagement with the programme after a first visit. The prevalence and incidence results are consistent with results from a series of RDS surveys previously conducted in Zimbabwe by this research team.

A difficulty highlighted by the authors is that while this method improves on convenience sampling, it is still difficult to know how HIV incidence and prevalence among programme participants compares to that in the wider female sex worker population. 

In summary this paper presents an approach by which similar programmes elsewhere could make better use of routinely collected data in order to generate estimates of impact and also identify sub-groups of female sex workers with poorer engagement with care. This in turn could lead to a more effective targeting of limited resources.

Africa
Zimbabwe
  • share
0 comments.

Sex on the move

Exploring the relationship between population mobility and HIV risk: evidence from Tanzania.

Deane KD, Samwell Ngalya P, Boniface L, Bulugu G, Urassa M. Glob Public Health. 2016 May 27:1-16. [Epub ahead of print]

Migration and population mobility has long been regarded as an important structural driver of HIV. Following initial concerns regarding the spatial spread of the disease, mobile populations are viewed to engage in higher levels of risky sexual behaviours than non-mobile groups. However, beyond the case studies of mineworkers and truck drivers, the statistical evidence is inconclusive, suggesting that the relationship between mobility and risk is not well understood. This study investigated how engaging in specific livelihoods that involve mobility influences sexual behaviour and HIV risk. A qualitative research project, including focus groups and in-depth interviews with key mobile groups, was conducted in Northern Tanzania. The findings show that the patterns and conditions of moving related to the requirements of each different economic activity influence the nature of relationships that mobile groups have whilst away, how and where local sexual networks are accessed, and the practicalities of having sex. This has further implications for condom use. Risk behaviours are also shaped by local sexual norms related to transactional sex, emphasising that the roles of mobility and gender are interrelated, overlapping and difficult to disentangle.

Abstract access  

Editor’s notes: Case studies with truck drivers and mineworkers have clearly shown a relationship between migration, mobility and HIV risk in sub-Saharan Africa. It remains unclear to what extent findings from these case studies can be extrapolated across all mobile populations. Evidence from studies in other populations is inconclusive, inconsistent and in some cases contradictory. This, in part is due to the limitations of the statistical frameworks used which tend to reduce migration to an abstract individual variable and fail to recognise migration as a dynamic socio-economic phenomenon. These frameworks may also inadequately reflect the variability of migratory behaviour offering limited policy conclusions for addressing HIV risk arising from migration or population mobility.

This qualitative study was conducted in North-western Tanzania in a population in which 60% of men and 43% of women were classified as mobile. Data were collected through focus group discussions and individual interviews with both female and male farmers and maize traders.

The findings of this study suggest that patterns and conditions of moving can influence the nature of sexual relationships that mobile individuals have while away. The findings offer important insights for future, more nuanced statistical work. This would include considering why people move, where they go, patterns of movement, the specific economic activities in which they engage, and where they stay while they are away. The findings also highlight the importance of situating the risk behaviours of mobile individuals within the sexual norms and practices around sex and exchange, and particularly transactional sex. The authors note that being mobile may exacerbate gendered and economic inequalities making the relative influences of mobility and sexual norms difficult to disentangle. This further highlights the value of HIV prevention programmes being specifically tailored to the specific needs of mobile populations.

Africa
United Republic of Tanzania
  • share
0 comments.

Preventing risky sexual behaviour and intimate partner violence in adolescents

Effects of PREPARE, a multi-component, school-based HIV and intimate partner violence (IPV) prevention programme on adolescent sexual risk behaviour and IPV: cluster randomised controlled trial.

Mathews C, Eggers SM, Townsend L, Aaro LE, de Vries PJ, Mason-Jones AJ, De Koker P, McClinton Appollis T, Mtshizana Y, Koech J, Wubs A, De Vries H. AIDS Behav. 2016 May 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Young South Africans, especially women, are at high risk of HIV. We evaluated the effects of PREPARE, a multi-component, school-based HIV prevention intervention to delay sexual debut, increase condom use and decrease intimate partner violence (IPV) among young adolescents. We conducted a cluster RCT among Grade eights in 42 high schools. The intervention comprised education sessions, a school health service and a school sexual violence prevention programme. Participants completed questionnaires at baseline, 6 and 12 months. Regression was undertaken to provide ORs or coefficients adjusted for clustering. Of 6244 sampled adolescents, 55.3 % participated. At 12 months there were no differences between intervention and control arms in sexual risk behaviours. Participants in the intervention arm were less likely to report IPV victimisation (35.1 vs. 40.9 %; OR 0.77, 95 % CI 0.61-0.99; t(40) = 2.14) suggesting the intervention shaped intimate partnerships into safer ones, potentially lowering the risk for HIV.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: Worldwide, HIV is one of the leading causes of death among adolescents. A key objective of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, launched in 2015, is to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. In South Africa, the prevalence and incidence of HIV remains high among young South Africans, especially among women. Early sexual debut and condomless sex are risk factors for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Another important risk factor in South Africa is the high level of intimate partner violence, which can also increase the risk of HIV infection among women. This cluster randomised trial sought to address these risk factors among young adolescents (average age 13 years) in public high schools in the Western Cape. The education component of the programme comprised 21 sessions delivered weekly immediately after school. One explanation for the lack of an effect on sexual behaviour was sub-optimal exposure to the activity as a result of poor attendance at sessions. Overall, the mean attendance was 8.02 sessions with higher attendance among girls than among boys. Even so, self-reported intimate partner violence – a factor that predisposes HIV infection – was reduced. The investigators suggest that this may be because attendance was higher at earlier sessions, which addressed gender issues, so more participants received exposure to content associated with intimate partner violence than sexual behaviour.

Achieving high, sustained attendance rates at after-school programmes is challenging and as the investigators note, perhaps the most efficient way to ensure that adolescents receive adequate exposure to HIV risk reduction programmes is to embed them in the school curriculum. However, programmes also need to address other structural, social and environmental factors affecting HIV infection.

Africa
South Africa
  • share
0 comments.

Intimate partner violence is a challenge to PrEP adherence

Intimate partner violence and adherence to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in African women in HIV serodiscordant relationships: a prospective cohort study.

Roberts ST, Haberer J, Celum C, Mugo N, Ware NC, Cohen CR, Tappero JW, Kiarie J, Ronald A, Mujugira A, Tumwesigye E, Were E, Irungu E, Baeten JM. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 May 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with higher HIV incidence, reduced condom use, and poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy and other medications. IPV may also affect adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Methods: We analyzed data from 1785 HIV-uninfected women enrolled in a clinical trial of PrEP among African HIV-serodiscordant couples. Experience of verbal, physical, or economic IPV was assessed at monthly visits by face-to-face interviews. Low PrEP adherence was defined as clinic-based pill count coverage <80% or plasma tenofovir levels <40 ng/mL. The association between IPV and low adherence was analyzed using generalized estimating equations, adjusting for potential confounders. In-depth interview transcripts were examined to explain how IPV could impact adherence.

Results: 16% of women reported IPV during a median of 34.8 months of follow-up (IQR 27.0 - 35.0). Overall, 7% of visits had pill count coverage <80% and 32% had plasma tenofovir <40 ng/mL. Women reporting IPV in the past 3 months had increased risk of low adherence by pill count (adjusted RR 1.49, 95% CI 1.17-1.89) and by plasma tenofovir (adjusted RR 1.51, 95% CI 1.06-2.15). Verbal, economic, and physical IPV were all associated with low adherence. However, the impact of IPV diminished and was not statistically significant 3 months after the reported exposure. In qualitative interviews, women identified several ways in which IPV affected adherence, including stress and forgetting, leaving home without pills, and partners throwing pills away.

Conclusion: Women who reported recent IPV in the Partners PrEP Study were at increased risk of low PrEP adherence. Strategies to mitigate PrEP non-adherence in the context of IPV should be evaluated.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: The high rates of HIV infection in women underscore persistent gender inequalities, in particular that of violence against women. Intimate partner violence (IPV) puts women at increased risk of HIV infection. Further, among women living with HIV, IPV has also been associated with lower rates of treatment uptake and adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART). The interaction between IPV and HIV is complex, and includes biological, socio-economic and cultural mechanisms. This is the first study to examine the association between IPV and adherence to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).  Women who had experienced IPV in the past three months were 50% more likely than women who had never experienced IPV to have poor adherence, as measured by both pills counts and drug levels in the blood.  Recent IPV was also associated with an increase in the risk of HIV infection.  Women in the study were in stable, serodiscordant relationships, had enrolled in the study together with their partners, and were using PrEP with their partner’s consent. The proportion of women reporting IPV during the study was much lower than national estimates in the region.  These findings are thus of concern for PrEP demonstration projects focusing on key populations at high risk of HIV, who may experience higher rates of IPV and be less likely to have partner support. 

PrEP is a key element of combination HIV prevention strategies in high-risk populations, but requires high adherence in order to be effective. Programmes focusing on promoting PrEP adherence in women who have experienced violence are urgently needed.  More broadly, HIV prevention programmes should be expanded to integrate IPV prevention as an important component to reducing women’s risk of HIV.

Africa
Kenya, Uganda
  • share
0 comments.

HIV testing in South Africa: on track to reach the first “90”?

Changes in self-reported HIV testing during South Africa's 2010/2011 national testing campaign: gains and shortfalls.

Maughan-Brown B, Lloyd N, Bor J, Venkataramani AS. J Int AIDS Soc. 2016; 19(1): 20658.

Objectives: HIV counselling and testing is critical to HIV prevention and treatment efforts. Mass campaigns may be an effective strategy to increase HIV testing in countries with generalized HIV epidemics. We assessed the self-reported uptake of HIV testing among individuals who had never previously tested for HIV, particularly those in high-risk populations, during the period of a national, multisector testing campaign in South Africa (April 2010 and June 2011).

Design: This study was a prospective cohort study.

Methods: We analyzed data from two waves (2010/2011, n=16 893; 2012, n=18 707) of the National Income Dynamics Study, a nationally representative cohort that enabled prospective identification of first-time testers. We quantified the number of adults (15 years and older) testing for the first time nationally. To assess whether the campaign reached previously underserved populations, we examined changes in HIV testing coverage by age, gender, race and province sub-groups. We also estimated multivariable logistic regression models to identify socio-economic and demographic predictors of first-time testing.

Results: Overall, the proportion of adults ever tested for HIV increased from 43.7% (95% confidence interval (CI): 41.48, 45.96) to 65.2% (95% CI: 63.28, 67.10) over the study period, with approximately 7.6 million (95% CI: 6,387,910; 8,782,986) first-time testers. Among black South Africans, the country's highest HIV prevalence sub-group, HIV testing coverage improved among poorer and healthier individuals, thus reducing gradients in testing by wealth and health. In contrast, HIV testing coverage remained lower for men, younger individuals and the less educated, indicating persistent if not widening disparities by gender, age and education. Large geographic disparities in coverage also remained as of 2012.

Conclusions: Mass provision of HIV testing services can be effective in increasing population coverage of HIV testing. The geographic and socio-economic disparities in programme impacts can help guide best practices for future efforts. These efforts should focus on hard-to-reach populations, including men and less-educated individuals.

Abstract Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: In South Africa, around one in eight people are living with HIV yet around half of these people do not know that they are HIV positive. To meet the 90-90-90 treatment target by 2020, there needs to be considerable expansion of HIV testing coverage. This analysis used independent nationally representative data on self-reported HIV testing to demonstrate that coverage of HIV testing increased substantially following the national multi-sector HIV testing campaign in 2010/11. Despite the expansion in coverage, in the 2012 survey one in three people aged >15 years reported never having received an HIV test. There was marked gender disparity, some 72% of women versus 57% men reported ever having tested in the 2012 survey. There were also prominent gaps among certain socio-economic groups, suggesting persistent inequities in access to HIV testing. 

Although South Africa performs around 10 million HIV tests per year, the number of people tested falls substantially below the target of 30 million tests set for 2016 in the National Strategic Plan. In September, South Africa will implement the “test and treat” approach where all people living with HIV will be offered antiretroviral therapy. In addition, demonstration projects are underway of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention. HIV testing services  is the gateway to all treatment and prevention services. The national campaign for HIV testing will clearly need to be revitalised in order to maximise the impact of these public health activities. At the same time, the data reported here would suggest that more innovative and focused approaches may be necessary for difficult to reach population groups.

Africa
South Africa
  • share
0 comments.