Articles tagged as "Resources/ Impact/ Development"

Linking cervical cancer prevention into infrastructure for HIV services in sub-Saharan Africa

Infrastructure requirements for human papillomavirus vaccination and cervical cancer screening in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sankaranarayanan R, Anorlu R, Sangwa-Lugoma G, Denny LA. Vaccine. 2013 Dec 29;31 Suppl 5:F47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.06.066.

The availability of both human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and alternative screening tests has greatly improved the prospects of cervical cancer prevention in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. The inclusion of HPV vaccine in the portfolio of new vaccines offered by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) to GAVI-eligible countries has vastly improved the chances of introducing HPV vaccination. Further investments to improve vaccine storage, distribution and delivery infrastructure and human resources of the Extended Programme of Immunization will substantially contribute to the faster introduction of HPV vaccination in SSA countries through both school- and campaign-based approaches. Alternative methods to cytology for the prevention of cervical cancer through the early detection and treatment of cervical cancer precursors have been extensively evaluated in the past 15 years, in Africa as well as in other low-resource settings. Visual inspection with 3-5% dilute acetic acid (VIA) and HPV testing are the two alternative screening methods that have been most studied, in both cross-sectional and randomised clinical trials. VIA is particularly suitable to low-resource settings; however, its efficacy in reducing cervical cancer is likely to be significantly lower than HPV testing. The introduction of VIA screening programmes will help develop the infrastructure that will, in turn, facilitate the introduction of affordable HPV testing in future. Links with the existing HIV/AIDS control programmes is another strategy to improve the infrastructure and screening services in SSA. Infrastructural requirements for an integrated approach aiming to vaccinate single-year cohorts of girls in the 9-13 years age-range and to screen women over 30 years of age using VIA or affordable rapid HPV tests are outlined in this manuscript.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cervical cancer. HIV-positive women are more likely to acquire and have persistent HPV, so the high burden of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) contributes to the burden of cervical cancer. This review article discusses the options for the prevention of cervical cancer in SSA. While this article is primarily focused on cervical cancer, it highlights the potential linkages of prevention activities with HIV/AIDS services with an emphasis on infrastructure to improve access to these services for women in SSA. The options for cervical cancer prevention in SSA include HPV vaccination, visual inspection tests, HPV DNA tests and cytology screening. These options and the infrastructure required for each are described in detail, and some of the barriers to delivery are highlighted. Treatment options are also described, including cryotherapy following visual inspection. 

Africa, Asia
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Integrated paediatric services can improve uptake of HIV care but are still affected by stigma

Qualitative assessment of the integration of HIV services with infant routine immunization visits in Tanzania.

Wallace A, Kimambo S, Dafrossa L, Rusibamayila N, Rwebembera A, Songoro J, Arthur G, Luman E, Finkbeiner T, Goodson JL. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2013 Dec 8. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: In 2009, a project was implemented in 8 primary health clinics throughout Tanzania to explore the feasibility of integrating pediatric HIV prevention services with routine infant immunization visits.

Methods: We conducted interviews with 66 conveniently sampled mothers of infants who had received integrated HIV and immunization services and 16 providers who delivered the integrated services to qualitatively identify benefits and challenges of the intervention midway through project implementation.

Findings: Mothers' perceived benefits of the integrated services included time savings, opportunity to learn their child's HIV status and receive HIV treatment if necessary. Providers' perceived benefits included reaching mothers who usually would not come for only HIV testing. Mothers and providers reported similar challenges, including mothers' fear of HIV testing, poor spousal support, perceived mandatory HIV testing, poor patient flow affecting confidentiality of service delivery, heavier provider workloads, and community stigma against HIV-infected persons; the latter a more frequent theme in rural compared to urban locations.

Interpretation: Future scale-up should ensure privacy of these integrated services received at clinics and community outreach to address stigma and perceived mandatory testing. Increasing human resources for health to address higher workloads and longer waiting times for proper patient flow is necessary in the long term.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: In response to the poor uptake of antiretroviral therapy (ART) by children in Tanzania the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a project to integrate early infant HIV diagnosis (EID) into routine immunisation visits in four urban and four rural clinics. The authors conducted a qualitative study to explore perceptions of this integrated service by mothers and health care providers. They conducted a large number of in depth interviews with mothers (66) and with health care providers (16). The majority of mothers and providers perceived the integrated services to be beneficial in relation to improving the uptake of HIV care and treatment. This is especially so as existing trust in immunisation services ensured that women were attending these services. However, they found a number of mixed messages about benefits for the mothers in terms of reduced costs and time in accessing both services together. Whilst most women reported cost and time savings, other women and providers reported that women spent a long time at the clinic, especially when queuing for both services. There were also issues in relation to confidentiality at the clinics concerning HIV status. Whilst many women trusted the staff to keep their information confidential, there were a number of ways in which the clinic processes were seen to compromise confidentiality. These included providing HIV services to groups of mothers together or providing care in designated HIV treatment rooms, which could be identified by other women at the clinic. This concern with confidentiality was important as women reported issues about stigma within their communities and fear of disclosure to partners or husbands who may be violent or leave them. There are concerns that this may impact on the uptake of immunization and the authors reported evidence of this in the rural clinics, from quantitative studies.

This paper highlights that future planning to provide more efficient services and increased uptake of HIV care and treatment needs to be highly sensitive to the ongoing issue of disclosure and stigma. Integrated services may provide a way to address this by providing all the services (such as immunisation and HIV care) in one session. In this way, other patients or mothers are not aware who is receiving HIV care. As the authors note though, this has implications for resource allocation.

United Republic of Tanzania
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Dolutegravir-based regimen superior to efavirenz-based regimen in treatment-naive patients

Dolutegravir plus abacavir-lamivudine for the treatment of HIV-1 infection.

Walmsley SL, Antela A, Clumeck N, Duiculescu D, Eberhard A, Gutiérrez F, Hocqueloux L, Maggiolo F, Sandkovsky U, Granier C, Pappa K, Wynne B, Min S, Nichols G; SINGLE Investigators.  N Engl J Med. 2013 Nov 7;369(19):1807-18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1215541.

Background: Dolutegravir (S/GSK1349572), a once-daily, unboosted integrase inhibitor, was recently approved in the United States for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection in combination with other antiretroviral agents. Dolutegravir, in combination with abacavir-lamivudine, may provide a simplified regimen.

Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, phase 3 study involving adult participants who had not received previous therapy for HIV-1 infection and who had an HIV-1 RNA level of 1 000 copies per milliliter or more. Participants were randomly assigned to dolutegravir at a dose of 50 mg plus abacavir-lamivudine once daily (DTG-ABC-3TC group) or combination therapy with efavirenz-tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (DF)-emtricitabine once daily (EFV-TDF-FTC group). The primary end point was the proportion of participants with an HIV-1 RNA level of less than 50 copies per milliliter at week 48. Secondary end points included the time to viral suppression, the change from baseline in CD4+ T-cell count, safety, and viral resistance.

Results: A total of 833 participants received at least one dose of study drug. At week 48, the proportion of participants with an HIV-1 RNA level of less than 50 copies per milliliter was significantly higher in the DTG-ABC-3TC group than in the EFV-TDF-FTC group (88% vs. 81%, P=0.003), thus meeting the criterion for superiority. The DTG-ABC-3TC group had a shorter median time to viral suppression than did the EFV-TDF-FTC group (28 vs. 84 days, P<0.001), as well as greater increases in CD4+ T-cell count (267 vs. 208 per cubic millimeter, P<0.001). The proportion of participants who discontinued therapy owing to adverse events was lower in the DTG-ABC-3TC group than in the EFV-TDF-FTC group (2% vs. 10%); rash and neuropsychiatric events (including abnormal dreams, anxiety, dizziness, and somnolence) were significantly more common in the EFV-TDF-FTC group, whereas insomnia was reported more frequently in the DTG-ABC-3TC group. No participants in the DTG-ABC-3TC group had detectable antiviral resistance; one tenofovir DF-associated mutation and four efavirenz-associated mutations were detected in participants with virologic failure in the EFV-TDF-FTC group.

Conclusions: Dolutegravir plus abacavir-lamivudine had a better safety profile and was more effective through 48 weeks than the regimen with efavirenz-tenofovir DF-emtricitabine.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: In this 48- week double-blind randomized controlled trial in treatment-naive patients, dolutegravir plus abacavir / lamivudine outperformed efavirenz plus tenofovir / emtricitabine in terms of efficacy (viral suppression at 48 weeks and time to viral suppression), immunological recovery and discontinuation of therapy for adverse events. The difference in virologic response was largely due to higher levels of regimen discontinuation for adverse events in the efavirenz arm. The superior virologic response in the dolutegravir arm was consistent regardless of baseline viral load (above or below 100 000 copies/ml). 4% of patients in both arms developed virologic failure (two consecutive viral load measures >50 copies/ml). As expected, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) mutations and K65R mutations emerged in patients failing the efavirenz-based regimen; however no mutations emerged amongst patients failing the dolutegravir-based regimen.

 Dolutegravir is clearly an attractive future treatment option: its long half-life supports once a day dosing; there are few relevant drug interactions; trials performed to date show that it is well tolerated; and a fixed drug combination tablet of dolutegravir, abacavir and lamivudine is currently being developed. However, until the cost is lowered we are unlikely to see widespread use of this drug.

Europe, Northern America, Oceania
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An integrated investment approach for women’s and children’s health

Advancing social and economic development by investing in women's and children's health: a new Global Investment Framework.

Stenberg K, Axelson H, Sheehan P, Anderson I, Gülmezoglu AM, Temmerman M, Mason E, Friedman HS, Bhutta ZA, Lawn JE, Sweeny K, Tulloch J, Hansen P, Chopra M, Gupta A, Vogel JP, Ostergren M, Rasmussen B, Levin C, Boyle C, Kuruvilla S, Koblinsky M, Walker N, de Francisco A, Novcic N, Presern C, Jamison D, Bustreo F; on behalf of the Study Group for the Global Investment Framework for Women's Children's Health. Lancet. 2013 Nov 18. doi: S0140-6736(13)62231-X. pii: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62231-X. [Epub ahead of print]

A new Global Investment Framework for Women's and Children's Health demonstrates how investment in women's and children's health will secure high health, social, and economic returns. We costed health systems strengthening and six investment packages for: maternal and newborn health, child health, immunisation, family planning, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Nutrition is a cross-cutting theme. We then used simulation modelling to estimate the health and socioeconomic returns of these investments. Increasing health expenditure by just $5 per person per year up to 2035 in 74 high-burden countries could yield up to nine times that value in economic and social benefits. These returns include greater gross domestic product (GDP) growth through improved productivity, and prevention of the needless deaths of 147 million children, 32 million stillbirths, and 5 million women by 2035. These gains could be achieved by an additional investment of $30 billion per year, equivalent to a 2% increase above current spending.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Over the past 20 years there have been substantial gains in maternal and child health (MCH). However, much still needs to be done – assuming a continuation of current rates of progress, there would nevertheless be shortfalls in the achievement of MDG 4 and 5 targets. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is an important underlying cause of maternal and child ill health. This paper models the costs and benefits of an accelerated action on MCH, including for HIV, the prevention of mother to child HIV transmission; first line treatment for pregnant women; cotrimoxazole for children, and the provision of paediatric antiretroviral therapy (ART). These HIV services are complemented by health systems strengthening; increased family planning provision; and packages for malaria, immunisation, and child health. The paper is interesting for many reasons, including both the breadth of its intervention focus, and the detailed modelling of the likely health, social and economic benefits of such investments.

Although the direct HIV related benefits are not described in detail in the main paper, it is likely that these result both from increased contraceptive use (prong 2 for preventing vertical HIV transmission), as well as ART and cotrimoxazole provision. It also illustrates the potential value of developing a cross-disease investment approach, as a means to ensure that services effectively respond to the breadth of women’s and children’s health needs. This more ‘joined up’, integrated perspective on strategies for health investment can support core investments in health systems strengthening. It can also potentially achieve important cross-disease synergies, e.g., ensuring that a child who has not acquired HIV at birth does not then die from malaria. 

Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania
Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
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Highly variable virological outcomes in ART programmes in seven countries

Extraordinary Heterogeneity of Virological Outcomes in Patients Receiving Highly Antiretroviral Therapy and Monitored With the World Health Organization Public Health Approach in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Aghokeng AF, Monleau M, Eymard-Duvernay S, Dagnra A, Kania D, Ngo-Giang-Huong  N, Toni TD, Touré-Kane C, Truong LX, Delaporte E, Chaix ML, Peeters M, Ayouba A; for the ANRS 12186 Study Group. Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Oct 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Background:  The limited access to virological monitoring in developing countries is a major weakness of the current antiretroviral treatment (ART) strategy in these settings. We conducted a large cross-sectional study in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Togo, Thailand, and Vietnam to assess virological failure and drug resistance mutations (DRMs) after 12 or 24 months of ART.

Methods:  Between 2009 and 2011, we recruited adults attending ART centers 10-14 months (the M12 group) or 22-26 months (M24 group) after initiating ART. Demographic and clinical data were collected on site, and viral load was measured. Samples with a viral load of ≥ 1 000 copies/mL, considered as the failure threshold, were genotyped for drug resistance assessment.

Results:  Overall, 3 935 patients were recruited (2 060 at M12 and 1 875 at M24). Median ages varied from 32 to 42 years. Median CD4+ T-cell counts at ART initiation were low (99-172 cells/µL). The main ART regimens included stavudine/zidovudine plus lamivudine plus nevirapine/efavirenz. Overall, virological failure frequency was 11.1% for M12 patients and 12.4% for M24 patients, and 71.0% to 86.1% of these patients, respectively, had drug-resistant virus. Across sites, virological failure varied from 2.9% to 20.6% in M12 patients and from 3.7% to 26.0% in M24 patients. Predominant DRMs were associated with ART regimens, but virus in several patients accumulated DRMs to drugs not received, such as abacavir, didanosine, tenofovir, etravirine, and rilpivirine.

Conclusions:  Our findings show heterogeneous virological failure and illustrate that, in addition to routine access to viral load, good management of ART programs is even more critical to improve treatment outcomes in resource-limited countries.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: As the number of people taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) increases, more attention will be needed to sustaining programme quality and effectiveness. The proportion of people taking ART who have suppressed HIV viral load is a key measure of treatment success. This survey of ART programmes in seven countries found wide variation in the proportion of patients with HIV viral load ≥1 000 copies per ml. This illustrates the value of viral load monitoring as a measure of programme quality. Among individuals with HIV viral load ≥1 000 copies per ml, most but not all had drug-resistant virus. This illustrates the difficulty of rational management of “treatment failure” where resistance cannot be determined. Of more concern are few patients who had resistance to drugs they apparently had never taken. This underlines the importance of careful ART stewardship to maximize the benefits of ART at population level. 

Africa, Asia
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Targeted HIV prevention messages on Facebook can increase uptake of HIV testing

Social networking technologies as an emerging tool for HIV prevention: a cluster randomized trial.

Young SD, Cumberland WG, Lee SJ, Jaganath D, Szekeres G, Coates T. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Sep 3;159(5):318-24. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-159-5-201309030-00005.

Background: Social networking technologies are an emerging tool for HIV prevention.

Objective: To determine whether social networking communities can increase HIV testing among African American and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM).

Design: Randomized, controlled trial with concealed allocation. ( NCT01701206) setting: Online.

Patients: 112 MSM based in Los Angeles, more than 85% of whom were African American or Latino.

Intervention: Sixteen peer leaders were randomly assigned to deliver information about HIV or general health to participants via Facebook groups over 12 weeks. After participants accepted a request to join the group, participation was voluntary. Group participation and engagement were monitored. Participants could request a free, home-based HIV testing kit and completed questionnaires at baseline and 12-week follow-up.

Measurements: Participant acceptance of and engagement in the intervention and social network participation, rates of home-based HIV testing, and sexual risk behaviors.

Results: Almost 95% of intervention participants and 73% of control participants voluntarily communicated using the social platform. Twenty-five of 57 intervention participants (44%) requested home-based HIV testing kits compared with 11 of 55 control participants (20%) (difference, 24 percentage points [95% CI, 8 to 41 percentage points]). Nine of the 25 intervention participants (36%) who requested the test took it and mailed it back compared with 2 of the 11 control participants (18%) who requested the test. Retention at study follow-up was more than 93%.

Limitation: Only 2 Facebook communities were included for each group.

Conclusion: Social networking communities are acceptable and effective tools to increase home-based HIV testing among at-risk populations.

Primary funding source: National Institute of Mental Health.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: HIV testing uptake among at-risk groups remains too low. The rapid increase in use of social media by some groups may provide a cost-effective way to increase the uptake of HIV testing. In this small study, peer leaders interacted with study participants on Facebook, providing information on HIV prevention or general health. Among the 57 participants randomized to receive information on HIV prevention, eight (14%) requested an HIV testing kit, returned the test and followed up for their test results, compared to none of the 55 randomized to information on general health. Although small, the findings suggest an exciting potential role for social media in increasing HIV testing. Further research is needed to explore: how to increase uptake further, generalizability to other settings (this was restricted to African-American and Latino men who have sex with men in Los Angeles); whether retention can be maintained over longer follow-up (the Facebook groups were maintained for twelve weeks); and how best to scale-up this intervention. 

Northern America
United States of America
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Loss to follow-up in ART programmes: standard definitions needed

Impact of definitions of loss to follow-up on estimates of retention, disease progression, and mortality: application to an HIV program in Mozambique.

Shepherd BE, Blevins M, Vaz LM, Moon TD, Kipp AM, José E, Ferreira FG, Vermund SH. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Sep 1;178(5):819-28. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt030. Epub 2013 Jun 19.

Patient retention is critical to the management of chronic diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); hence, accurate measures of loss to follow-up (LTF) are important. Many different LTF definitions have been proposed. In a cohort of 9 692 HIV-infected patients initiating antiretroviral therapy in Mozambique from 2006 to 2011, we investigated the impact of the definition of LTF on estimated rates of LTF, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-defining events, and death by applying 17 different definitions of LTF gleaned from HIV literature. We further investigated the impact of 4 specific components of the LTF definitions. Cumulative incidences of LTF and AIDS-defining events were estimated by treating death as a competing risk; Kaplan-Meier techniques and variations to account for informative censoring were used to estimate rates of mortality. Estimates of LTF 2 years after treatment initiation were high and varied substantially, from 22% to 84% depending on the LTF definition used. Estimates of 2-year mortality varied from 11% to 16%, and estimates of 2-year AIDS-defining events varied from 6% to 8%. As seen here, the choice of LTF definition can greatly affect study conclusions and program evaluations. Selection of LTF definitions should be based on the study outcome, available data on clinical encounters, and the patients' visit schedules; we suggest some general guidelines.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Optimising retention in care is key to achieving the maximum impact from antiretroviral therapy roll-out. Retention in care is therefore an important programme outcome. This study, from a large programme in Mozambique, illustrates the effect of different definitions of loss to follow-up on programme outcome measures. As well as affecting estimates of loss to follow-up, changing the definition affects estimates of other outcomes including mortality. The study illustrates the need for standardization of definitions of outcomes for antiretroviral therapy programmes. The authors argue that several standardized definitions might be needed, depending on the characteristics of the cohort and the outcome of interest. Definitions must be feasible to use in resource-constrained settings where, for example, the proportion of patients defined as "lost" who have actually died will often be unknown. Agreement concerning standardized outcomes would simplify reporting and make comparisons between programmes much easier.

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Iron supplementation in anaemic children: reduces HIV disease progression but increases malaria

Iron Supplementation in HIV-Infected Malawian Children With Anemia: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial.

Esan MO, van Hensbroek MB, Nkhoma E, Musicha C, White SA, Ter Kuile FO, Phiri  KS. Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Sep 24. [Epub ahead of print] 

Background: It is unknown whether iron supplementation in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)infected children living in regions with high infection pressure is safe or beneficial. A 2-arm, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial was conducted to examine the effects of iron supplementation on hemoglobin, HIV disease progression, and morbidity.

Methods: HIV-infected Malawian children aged 659 months with moderate anemia (hemoglobin level, 7.09.9 g/dL) were randomly assigned to receive 3 mg/kg/day of elemental iron and multivitamins (vitamins A, C, and D) or multivitamins alone for 3 months. Participants were followed for 6 months.

Results: A total of 209 children were randomly assigned to treatment, and 196 (93.8%) completed 6 months of follow-up. Iron supplementation was associated with greater increases in hemoglobin concentrations (adjusted mean difference [aMD], 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], .06–1.13; P = .03) and reduced the risk of anemia persisting for up to 6 months follow-up (adjusted prevalence ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, .38–.92; P = .02). Children who received iron had a better CD4 percentage response at 3 months (aMD, 6.00; 95% CI, 1.84–10.16; P = .005) but an increased incidence of malaria at 6 months (incidence rate, 120.2 vs 71.7; adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR], 1.81 [95% CI, 1.04–3.16]; P = .04), especially during the first 3 months (incidence rate, 78.1 vs 36.0; aIRR, 2.68 [95% CI, 1.08–6.63]; P = .03).

Conclusions: Iron supplementation in anemic HIV-infected children has beneficial effects on hemoglobin, anemia, and immunity but increases the risk of malaria. Thus, iron supplementation in HIV-infected children living in malaria-endemic areas should only be provided in combination with adequate protection from malaria.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: There is a large overlap between anaemia and HIV in areas where both conditions are prevalent. There has been concern about possible increased risk of infection with iron supplementation in HIV-negative children. This is the first randomized controlled trial to examine the efficacy and safety of iron in HIV-positive children in an area with a high pressure of infections (including malaria). Despite the multifactorial aetiology of anaemia in HIV infection, iron supplementation was associated with an improvement in haemoglobin and reduced risk of persisting anaemia. Additionally, among iron-deficient children, iron supplementation was associated with a reduced risk of HIV disease progression. However, there was an increased risk of malaria, particularly among children aged over two years. This study shows that iron supplementation can be included in the HIV care package for children, combined with interventions to protect against malaria. The interaction between iron, immunity and infection is complex and needs further study. 

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Is Xpert MTB/RIF affordable?

Xpert MTB/RIF for diagnosis of tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis: a cost and affordability analysis.

Pantoja A, Fitzpatrick C, Vassall A, Weyer K, Floyd K. Eur Respir J. 2013 Sep;42(3):708-20. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00147912. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Xpert MTB/RIF is a rapid test to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) and rifampicin-resistant TB. Cost and affordability will influence its uptake. We assessed the cost, globally and in 36 high-burden countries, of two strategies for diagnosing TB and multidrug-resistant (MDR)-TB: Xpert with follow-on diagnostics, and conventional diagnostics. Costs were compared with funding available for TB care and control, and donor investments in HIV prevention and care. Using Xpert to diagnose MDR-TB would cost US$70-90 million per year globally and be lower cost than conventional diagnostics globally and in all high-burden countries. Diagnosing TB in HIV-positive people using Xpert would also cost US$90-101 million per year and be lower cost than conventional diagnostics globally and in 33 out of 36 high-burden countries. Testing everyone with TB signs and symptoms would cost US$434-468 million per year globally, much more than conventional diagnostics. However, in European countries, Brazil and South Africa, the cost would represent <10% of TB funding. Introducing Xpert to diagnose MDR-TB and to diagnose TB in HIV-positive people is warranted in many countries. Using it to test everyone with TB signs and symptoms is affordable in several middle-income countries, but financial viability in low-income countries requires large increases in TB funding and/or further price reductions.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: The Xpert MTB/RIF assay represents a substantial advance that was endorsed by WHO in 2010 for diagnosis of pulmonary disease and simultaneous detection of rifampicin resistance. The benefits of using this technology are greatest in populations with high burden of HIV-associated TB (in view of the limited sensitivity of smear-microscopy) and with high prevalence of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). Cost remains a substantial hurdle to implementation and economic analyses are needed to guide implementation. Both the potential benefits of implementing this technology and its affordability vary substantially between countries; depending on the overall burden of TB, rates of HIV-associated TB, rates of MDR-TB and the wealth of the country. This economic analysis supports implementation of Xpert MTB/RIF in place of conventional diagnostics for diagnosis of HIV-associated TB and MDR-TB in many counties. And its use as a first-line diagnostic in all patients in several high-burden middle-income countries. 

Avoid TB deaths
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‘Public’ and ‘hidden’ transcripts of the Global Fund in India

Transforming governance or reinforcing hierarchies and competition: examining the public and hidden transcripts of the Global Fund and HIV in India.

Kapilashrami A, McPake B. Health Policy Plan. 2013 Sep;28(6):626-35. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czs102. Epub 2012 Nov 11.

Global health initiatives (GHIs) have gained prominence as innovative and effective policy mechanisms to tackle global health priorities. More recent literature reveals governance-related challenges and their unintended health system effects. Much less attention is received by the relationship between these mechanisms, the ideas that underpin them and the country-level practices they generate. The Global Fund has leveraged significant funding and taken a lead in harmonizing disparate efforts to control HIV/AIDS. Its growing influence in recipient countries makes it a useful case to examine this relationship and evaluate the extent to which the dominant public discourse on Global Fund departs from the hidden resistances and conflicts in its operation. Drawing on insights from ethnographic fieldwork and 70 interviews with multiple stakeholders, this article aims to better understand and reveal the public and the hidden transcript of the Global Fund and its activities in India. We argue that while its public transcript abdicates its role in country-level operations, a critical ethnographic examination of the organization and governance of the Fund in India reveals a contrasting scenario. Its organizing principles prompt diverse actors with conflicting agendas to come together in response to the availability of funds. Multiple and discrete projects emerge, each leveraging control and resources and acting as conduits of power. We examine how management of HIV is punctuated with conflicts of power and interests in a competitive environment set off by the Fund protocol and discuss its system-wide effects. The findings also underscore the need for similar ethnographic research on the financing and policy-making architecture of GHIs.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: The paper presents results of a study on the implementation of the Global Fund fourth round HIV/AIDS grant in five states of India. It draws on Scott’s (1992) distinction between ‘dominant public transcripts’ –  official and documented statements describing principles, structures and activities - and ‘hidden transcripts’ meaning the unofficial practices and realities that are rarely acknowledged in official documents. While such a distinction is not new in the social sciences, for instance public and private accounts of experiences of health and illness are often contrasted, this framing provides a useful way to distinguish official rhetoric from interviewees’ discourses and observation of day-to-day practices of decision making and implementation. The study took an ethnographic approach between 2007 and 2009 to articulate these ‘hidden transcripts’ consisting of observations of meetings, document review and 70 ‘in-depth’ stakeholder interviews.

The paper reports on several aspects of the Indian experience that reinforce findings from previous studies of the effects of Global Fund HIV/AIDS programmes in other countries. These include limited involvement of local civil society organisations in grant application processes. Instead the application process was dominated by government, bilateral and multilateral agencies and large national/international civil society organisations. Country Coordination Mechanism (CCM) activities were confined to applying for grants rather than overseeing programme implementation. Demanding reporting requirements strained an already weak health system, created competition between implementers and impacted negatively on the continuity of interventions. The paper concludes that while the Global Fund claims to be a financial mechanism for country-driven programmes, its structures, rules and conditions create a highly regulating environment for programme implementation. 

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