Articles tagged as "Brazil"

Optimising outcomes on second-line antiretroviral therapy: partner-based modified directly observed therapy is not the answer

Partner-based adherence intervention for second-line antiretroviral therapy (ACTG 5234): a multinational randomised trial.

Gross R, Zheng L, La Rosa A, Sun X, Rosenkrantz SL, Wagner Cardoso S, Ssali F, Camp R, Godfrey C, Cohn SE, Robbins GK, Chisada A, Wallis CL, Reynolds NR, Lu D, Safren SA, Hosey L, Severe P, Collier AC for the ACTG 5234 team. Lancet HIV 2015; 2: e12–19

Background: Adherence is key to the success of antiretroviral therapy. Enhanced partner support might benefit patients with previous treatment failure. We aimed to assess whether an enhanced partner-based support intervention with modified directly observed therapy would improve outcomes with second-line therapy in HIV-infected patients for whom first-line therapy had failed.

Methods: We did a multicentre, international, randomised clinical trial at nine sites in Botswana, Brazil, Haiti, Peru, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Participants aged 18 years or older for whom first-line therapy had failed, with HIV RNA concentrations greater than 1000 copies per mL and with a willing partner, were randomly assigned (1:1), via computer-generated randomisation, to receive partner-based modified directly observed therapy or standard of care. Randomisation was stratified by screening HIV RNA concentration (≤10 000 copies per mL vs >10 000 copies per mL). Participants and site investigators were not masked to group assignment. Primary outcome was confirmed virological failure (viral load >400 copies per mL) by week 48. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00608569.

Findings: Between April 23, 2009, and Sept 29, 2011, we randomly assigned 259 participants to the modified directly observed therapy group (n=129) or the standard-of-care group (n=130). 34 (26%) participants in the modified directly observed therapy group achieved the primary endpoint of virological failure by week 48 compared with 23 (18%) participants in the standard-of-care group. The Kaplan-Meier estimated cumulative probability of virological failure by week 48 was 25·1% (95% CI 17·7–32·4) in the modified directly observed therapy group and 17·3% (10·8–23·7) in the standard-of-care group, for a weighted difference in standard of care versus modified directly observed therapy of −6·6% (95% CI −16·5% to 3·2%; p=0·19). 36 (14%) participants reported at least one grade 3 or higher adverse event or laboratory abnormality (n=21 in the modified directly observed therapy group and n=15 in the standard-of-care group).

Interpretation: Partner-based training with modified directly observed therapy had no effect on virological suppression. The intervention does not therefore seem to be a promising strategy to increase adherence. Intensive follow-up with clinic staff might be a viable approach in this setting.

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Editor’s notes: High rates of virologic failure on second-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) are reported in resource-limited settings. The main driver of this is thought to be sub-optimal adherence rather than resistance. As many of these settings have limited access to third-line regimens there is an urgent need for evidence-informed programmes to optimise peoples’ adherence, both to first-line and second-line regimens.

The results from this randomised controlled trial provide further evidence that partner-based modified directly observed therapy is not the answer. Interestingly, people enrolled in this trial had far lower rates of virologic failure than have been observed in programmatic settings, regardless of whether they were in the programme or standard-of-care arm. Many factors could account for this, including the fact that all people enrolled in the study had to have disclosed their status to a friend or family member, all received enhanced education and support and all attended regular clinic appointments. Further pragmatic studies which focus on clinic-and patient-level programmes are needed to determine the optimal strategies for maximising peoples’ adherence. 

Africa, Latin America
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Late antiretroviral therapy start persists for children under two years of age in low- and middle-income countries

Immunodeficiency in children starting antiretroviral therapy in low-, middle-, and high-income countries.

Koller M, Patel K, Chi BH, Wools-Kaloustian K, Dicko F, Chokephaibulkit K, Chimbetete C, Avila D, Hazra R, Ayaya S, Leroy V, Truong HK, Egger M, Davies MA, IeDEA, NISDI, PHACS and IMPAACT 219C studies.  J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Jan 1;68(1):62-72. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000380.

Background: The CD4 cell count or percent (CD4%) at the start of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is an important prognostic factor in children starting therapy and an important indicator of program performance. We describe trends and determinants of CD4 measures at cART initiation in children from low-, middle-, and high-income countries.

Methods: We included children aged <16 years from clinics participating in a collaborative study spanning sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States. Missing CD4 values at cART start were estimated through multiple imputation. Severe immunodeficiency was defined according to World Health Organization criteria. Analyses used generalized additive mixed models adjusted for age, country, and calendar year.

Results: A total of 34 706 children from 9 low-income, 6 lower middle-income, 4 upper middle-income countries, and 1 high-income country (United States) were included; 20 624 children (59%) had severe immunodeficiency. In low-income countries, the estimated prevalence of children starting cART with severe immunodeficiency declined from 76% in 2004 to 63% in 2010. Corresponding figures for lower middle-income countries were from 77% to 66% and for upper middle-income countries from 75% to 58%. In the United States, the percentage decreased from 42% to 19% during the period 1996 to 2006. In low- and middle-income countries, infants and children aged 12-15 years had the highest prevalence of severe immunodeficiency at cART initiation.

Conclusions: Despite progress in most low- and middle-income countries, many children continue to start cART with severe immunodeficiency. Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV-infected children to prevent morbidity and mortality associated with immunodeficiency must remain a global public health priority.

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Editor’s notes: This article describes trends and determinants of CD4 cell measures at antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation in about 35 000 children in low, middle, and high-income countries. Temporal trends in CD4 measures at ART initiation are a useful indicator of the health system’s ability to identify and treat eligible children in a timely fashion. They are also a useful measure of responsiveness to guideline changes.

Previous WHO guidelines recommended early ART initiation, regardless of immunologic or clinical thresholds. But the authors found that in 2010, approximately two-thirds of children below two years of age, in low- and middle-income countries were still starting ART with severe immunodeficiency.

Delayed country-level implementation of WHO guidelines, poor access to early infant diagnosis, slow turn-around time of test results, and limited ART availability for infants and young children are all contributing factors to this delayed ART initiation. The authors point out that timely diagnosis of paediatric HIV does not necessarily result in timely ART. The main reasons for this diagnosis to treatment gap include HIV diagnostic tests and paediatric ART being located at separate sites without robust referral mechanisms between services. There are challenges with CD4 measurement to determine eligibility. These include access to tests, turn-around time and interpretation of results and health care worker discomfort with treating children.

Currently, only 22% of children living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are receiving ART. To decrease the treatment gap among children, WHO 2013 guidelines recommend universal ART for all children living with HIV, aged below five years of age, irrespective of CD4 count or clinical stage. Removing the requirement for a CD4 measurement also removes the time lag while waiting for CD4 results. Thus the guidelines aim both to increase treatment accessibility and to accelerate treatment initiation for all children. 

HIV Treatment
Africa, Asia, Northern America
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Increasing transmitted resistance to antiretroviral therapy in low/middle-income countries - highest prevalence in MSM

Global burden of transmitted HIV drug resistance and HIV-exposure categories: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Pham QD, Wilson DP, Law MG, Kelleher AD, Zhang L. AIDS. 2014 Nov 28;28(18):2751-62. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000494.

Objectives: Our aim was to review the global disparities of transmitted HIV drug resistance (TDR) in antiretroviral-naive MSM, people who inject drugs (PWID) and heterosexual populations in both high-income and low/middle-income countries.

Design/methods: We undertook a systematic review of the peer-reviewed English literature on TDR (1999-2013). Random-effects meta-analyses were performed to pool TDR prevalence and compare the odds of TDR across at-risk groups.

Results: A total of 212 studies were included in this review. Areas with greatest TDR prevalence were North America (MSM: 13.7%, PWID: 9.1%, heterosexuals: 10.5%); followed by western Europe (MSM: 11.0%, PWID: 5.7%, heterosexuals: 6.9%) and South America (MSM: 8.3%, PWID: 13.5%, heterosexuals: 7.5%). Our data indicated disproportionately high TDR burdens in MSM in Oceania (Australia 15.5%), eastern Europe/central Asia (10.2%) and east Asia (7.8%). TDR epidemics have stabilized in high-income countries, with a higher prevalence (range 10.9-12.6%) in MSM than in PWID (5.2-8.3%) and heterosexuals (6.4-9.0%) over 1999-2013. In low/middle-income countries, TDR prevalence in all at-risk groups in 2009-2013 almost doubled than that in 2004-2008 (MSM: 7.8 vs. 4.2%, P = 0.011; heterosexuals: 4.1 vs. 2.6%, P < 0.001; PWID: 4.8 vs. 2.4%, P = 0.265, respectively). The risk of TDR infection was significantly greater in MSM than that in heterosexuals and PWID. We observed increasing trends of resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors among MSM.

Conclusion: TDR prevalence is stabilizing in high-income countries, but increasing in low/middle-income countries. This is likely due to the low, but increasing, coverage of antiretroviral therapy in these settings. Transmission of TDR is most prevalent among MSM worldwide.

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Editor’s notes: HIV mutates very rapidly, and many early antiretroviral agents had a low genetic barrier to the development of resistance. Thus the emergence of virus resistant to antiretroviral agents, particularly to early drug classes, was inevitable. Surveillance for drug-resistant virus among people with no prior history of taking antiretroviral drugs (transmitted drug resistance) is essential to monitor the spread of drug resistance at population level.

This systematic review aimed to compare transmitted drug resistance in different geographical regions and between subpopulations of HIV-positive people by likely route of transmission. Transmitted resistance was most prevalent in high income settings. This is not surprising given wide use of suboptimal drug regimens before effective triple therapy was available. Reassuringly, the prevalence of transmitted resistance seems to have stabilised in high-income settings. The increase in transmitted resistance in low and middle income countries is of more concern. It is not surprising, given that first-line regimens comprising two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor are vulnerable to the development of resistance if the drug supply is interrupted or adherence is suboptimal. In addition, if viral load monitoring is not available, people remain on failing drug regimens for longer, and thus have more risk of transmitting resistant virus.

Within the subpopulations examined in this review, transmitted resistance was consistently higher in men who have sex with men, suggesting that resistance testing prior to treatment is particularly valuable for this population.

Limitations of the review include exclusion of studies that did not compare transmitted resistance between the specified subpopulations, and small sample size in many subgroups.

Continued surveillance for transmitted drug resistance is critical. This is most important in settings where individualised resistance testing is not available. This will ensure that people starting antiretroviral therapy receive treatment that will suppress their viral load effectively. Wider use of viral load monitoring, combined with access to effective second and third line regimens, will also help limit spread of drug resistance.

HIV Treatment
Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Malawi, Malaysia, Moldova, Mozambique, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
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Brazil - long-term protection from TB with six months of isoniazid preventive therapy

Long-term protection from isoniazid preventive therapy for tuberculosis in HIV-infected patients in a medium-burden tuberculosis setting: the TB/HIV in Rio (THRio) study.

Golub JE, Cohn S, Saraceni V, Cavalcante SC, Pacheco AG, Moulton LH, Durovni B, Chaisson RE. Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Nov 2. pii: ciu849. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: The duration of protection against tuberculosis provided by isoniazid preventive therapy is not known for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals living in settings of medium tuberculosis incidence.

Methods: We conducted an individual-level analysis of participants in a cluster-randomized, phased-implementation trial of isoniazid preventive therapy. HIV-infected patients who had positive tuberculin skin tests (TSTs) were followed until tuberculosis diagnosis, death, or administrative censoring. Nelson-Aalen cumulative hazard plots were generated and hazards were compared using the log-rank test. Cox proportional hazards models were fitted to investigate factors associated with tuberculosis diagnosis.

Results: Between 2003 and 2009, 1954 patients with a positive TST were studied. Among these, 1601 (82%) initiated isoniazid. Overall tuberculosis incidence was 1.39 per 100 person-years (PY); 0.53 per 100 PY in those who initiated isoniazid and 6.52 per 100 PY for those who did not (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], .11-.25). Receiving antiretroviral therapy at time of a positive TST was associated with a reduced risk of tuberculosis (aHR, 0.69; 95% CI, .48-1.00). Nelson-Aalen plots of tuberculosis incidence showed a constant risk, with no acceleration in 7 years of follow-up for those initiating isoniazid preventive therapy.

Conclusions: Isoniazid preventive therapy significantly reduced tuberculosis risk among HIV-infected patients with a positive TST. In a medium-prevalence setting, 6 months of isoniazid in HIV-infected patients with positive TST reduces tuberculosis risk over 7 years of follow-up, in contrast to results of studies in higher-burden settings in Africa.

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Editor’s notes: Isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) is a key component of WHO strategy to reduce the burden of tuberculosis among people living with HIV. In early randomised trials among people living with HIV, the duration of IPT was usually six months. This was consistently found to be effective in reducing TB incidence among people with a positive tuberculin skin test (TST). However, more recent studies from southern Africa have found that this protective effect wanes rapidly after the IPT course is completed. These studies have led to policy recommendations for continuous IPT for people living with HIV who are TST positive. In addition, mathematical modelling of trial data has suggested that IPT may not “cure” latent TB infection in people living with HIV.

There are few data from settings with lower TB transmission documenting the durability of short-course IPT among people living with HIV. This paper reports long-term follow-up among people living with HIV who received IPT in the THRio study in Brazil, a medium TB burden setting. The data provides reassurance that a six-month course of IPT gives durable protection against TB among people living with HIV. Nonetheless, there is a need for implementation of shorter, effective TB preventive therapy regimens, which are less arduous for people and simpler for health services to deliver.

Avoid TB deaths
Comorbidity
Latin America
Brazil
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Antiretroviral therapy alone not enough to reduce TB incidence where HIV- and TB- prevalence is high

Incidence of HIV-associated tuberculosis among individuals taking combination antiretroviral therapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Kufa T, Mabuto T, Muchiri E, Charalambous S, Rosillon D, Churchyard G, Harris RC. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 13;9(11):e111209. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111209. eCollection 2014.

Background: Knowledge of tuberculosis incidence and associated factors is required for the development and evaluation of strategies to reduce the burden of HIV-associated tuberculosis.

Methods: Systematic literature review and meta-analysis of tuberculosis incidence rates among HIV-infected individuals taking combination antiretroviral therapy.

Results: From PubMed, EMBASE and Global Index Medicus databases, 42 papers describing 43 cohorts (32 from high/intermediate and 11 from low tuberculosis burden settings) were included in the qualitative review and 33 in the quantitative review. Cohorts from high/intermediate burden settings were smaller in size, had lower median CD4 cell counts at study entry and fewer person-years of follow up. Tuberculosis incidence rates were higher in studies from sub-Saharan Africa and from World Bank low/middle income countries. Tuberculosis incidence rates decreased with increasing CD4 count at study entry and duration on combination antiretroviral therapy. Summary estimates of tuberculosis incidence among individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy were higher for cohorts from high/intermediate burden settings compared to those from the low tuberculosis burden settings (4.17 per 100 person-years [95% Confidence Interval (CI) 3.39-5.14 per 100 person-years] vs. 0.4 per 100 person-years [95% CI 0.23-0.69 per 100 person-years]) with significant heterogeneity observed between the studies.

Conclusions: Tuberculosis incidence rates were high among individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy in high/intermediate burden settings. Interventions to prevent tuberculosis in this population should address geographical, socioeconomic and individual factors such as low CD4 counts and prior history of tuberculosis.

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Editor’s notes: This systematic review and meta-analysis looks at tuberculosis (TB) incidence rates among adults living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment (ART). The review reinforces and quantifies what we already know about the disparities between low-burden and high-burden settings. TB incidence rates in high and intermediate burden settings are ten times higher than those in low burden settings.

The authors draw attention to the need for implementation of programmes that address the social determinants of TB. Low socio-economic conditions are associated with higher TB incidence rates in individuals on ART. Interestingly, the meta-analysis found that TB incidence rates were higher among individuals on ART who had a previous history of TB, than individuals who did not have a history of previous TB. The epidemiological association between previous TB treatment and active TB was one of the foundations for the emphasis on case retention and cure rates with the Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course (DOTS) strategy. Yet prevalence surveys conducted in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia in the pre-ART and early ART era did not find an association between a history of previous TB and prevalent active undiagnosed TB in individuals living with HIV. The finding from this meta-analysis suggests that individuals on ART are now surviving long enough to develop recurrent TB disease.

The overall message of the study is that ART alone is not sufficient to reduce TB incidence in high HIV prevalence settings. Additional strategies are required to prevent TB focussing on individuals with low CD4 counts, a history of previous TB disease and people who have recently initiated ART.

Avoid TB deaths
Africa, Asia, Europe, Northern America
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High levels of suicide ideation among women living with HIV, with a history of gender violence

Women with HIV: gender violence and suicidal ideation

Ceccon RF, Meneghel SN, Hirakata VN. Rev Saude Publica. 2014 Oct;48(5):758-65.

Objective: To analyze the relationship between gender violence and suicidal ideation in women with HIV.

Methods: A cross-sectional study with 161 users of specialized HIV/AIDS care services. The study investigated the presence of gender violence through the Brazilian version of the World Health Organization Violence against Women instrument, and suicidal ideation through the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire. Statistical analyses were performed with the SPSS software, using the Chi-square test and Poisson multiple regression model.

Results: Eighty-two women with HIV reported suicidal ideation (50.0%), 78 (95.0%) of whom had suffered gender violence. Age at first sexual intercourse < 15 years old, high number of children, poverty, living with HIV for long, and presence of violence were statistically associated with suicidal ideation. Women who suffered gender violence showed 5.7 times more risk of manifesting suicidal ideation.

Conclusions: Women with HIV showed a high prevalence to gender violence and suicidal ideation. Understanding the relationship between these two grievances may contribute to the comprehensive care of these women and implementation of actions to prevent violence and suicide.

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Editor’s notes: The HIV epidemic in Brazil is becoming increasingly feminized. The male to female ratio of HIV infections has decreased from 26 to 1.5 men for every woman, over the past 10 years. Within the HIV field, there has been growing recognition of the mental health impacts of HIV infection, and the importance of considering how best to address this issue, as part of service provision. Similarly, there has been growing recognition within the violence field, that experiences of violence from a partner has both short and long term mental health impacts. Women who have violent partners may be at greater risk of contracting HIV, and be at risk of violence following disclosure. This paper illustrates the ways in which these issues cluster. The study finds that women living with HIV who had a history of violence are far more likely to report being HIV positive. The findings illustrate the need for HIV services to be able to both support women with mental health support needs, and support women who have a history of violence. The findings suggests that HIV counsellors need to be able to discuss issues of depression, suicidal ideation and violence, and potentially facilitate referral to specialized services in each area.

Latin America
Brazil
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Why pregnant women and mothers living with HIV do not access, or do not stay in care

A systematic review of individual and contextual factors affecting ART initiation, adherence, and retention for HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women.

Hodgson I, Plummer ML, Konopka SN, Colvin CJ, Jonas E, Albertini J, Amzel A, Fogg KP. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 5;9(11):e111421. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111421. eCollection 2014.

Background: Despite progress reducing maternal mortality, HIV-related maternal deaths remain high, accounting, for example, for up to 24 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is effective in improving outcomes among HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women, yet rates of initiation, adherence, and retention remain low. This systematic literature review synthesized evidence about individual and contextual factors affecting ART use among HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women.

Methods: Searches were conducted for studies addressing the population (HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women), intervention (ART), and outcomes of interest (initiation, adherence, and retention). Quantitative and qualitative studies published in English since January 2008 were included. Individual and contextual enablers and barriers to ART use were extracted and organized thematically within a framework of individual, interpersonal, community, and structural categories.

Results: Thirty-four studies were included in the review. Individual-level factors included both those within and outside a woman's awareness and control (e.g., commitment to child's health or age). Individual-level barriers included poor understanding of HIV, ART, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and difficulty managing practical demands of ART. At an interpersonal level, disclosure to a spouse and spousal involvement in treatment were associated with improved initiation, adherence, and retention. Fear of negative consequences was a barrier to disclosure. At a community level, stigma was a major barrier. Key structural barriers and enablers were related to health system use and engagement, including access to services and health worker attitudes.

Conclusions: To be successful, programs seeking to expand access to and continued use of ART by integrating maternal health and HIV services must identify and address the relevant barriers and enablers in their own context that are described in this review. Further research on this population, including those who drop out of or never access health services, is needed to inform effective implementation.

Abstract Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: This systematic review is one of three by the same team, related to HIV and maternal mortality. The review findings illustrate that the individual and contextual factors which affect antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation, adherence and retention for pregnant/postpartum women living with HIV are numerous. Fears over disclosure, and consequent stigma and discrimination feature in many of the studies reviewed. Practical barriers might be overcome, by making services more accessible. The lack of knowledge about HIV and treatment among some women may be addressed through information campaigns. However, the fear of negative consequences as a result of disclosure, even to health workers, presents significant barriers to care. This is something that is of particular note as Option B+ is rolled out. An important strength of this review is the combination of qualitative and quantitative studies. The meticulous description of the approach to the review is also welcome. The authors’ call for ‘consistent, standardised and appropriate measures of adherence and retention’ with a ‘longitudinal component’, is a valuable suggestion as the performance of countries in providing Option B+ begins to be compared.

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Diagnosis of syphilis as an entry point for PrEP initiation among men who have sex with men

Syphilis predicts HIV incidence among men and transgender women who have sex with men in a preexposure prophylaxis trial.

Solomon MM, Mayer KH, Glidden DV, Liu AY, McMahan VM, Guanira JV, Chariyalertsak S, Fernandez T, Grant RM, iPrEx Study Team. Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Oct;59(7):1020-6. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu450. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Background: Syphilis infection may potentiate transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We sought to determine the extent to which HIV acquisition was associated with syphilis infection within an HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial and whether emtricitabine/tenofovir (FTC/TDF) modified that association.

Methods: The Preexposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) study randomly assigned 2499 HIV-seronegative men and transgender women who have sex with men (MSM) to receive oral daily FTC/TDF or placebo. Syphilis prevalence at screening and incidence during follow-up were measured. Hazard ratios for the effect of incident syphilis on HIV acquisition were calculated. The effect of FTC/TDF on incident syphilis and HIV acquisition was assessed.

Results: Of 2499 individuals, 360 (14.4%) had a positive rapid plasma reagin test at screening; 333 (92.5%) had a positive confirmatory test, which did not differ between the arms (FTC/TDF vs placebo, P = .81). The overall syphilis incidence during the trial was 7.3 cases per 100 person-years. There was no difference in syphilis incidence between the study arms (7.8 cases per 100 person-years for FTC/TDF vs 6.8 cases per 100 person-years for placebo, P = .304). HIV incidence varied by incident syphilis (2.8 cases per 100 person-years for no syphilis vs 8.0 cases per 100 person-years for incident syphilis), reflecting a hazard ratio of 2.6 (95% confidence interval, 1.6-4.4; P < .001). There was no evidence for interaction between randomization to the FTC/TDF arm and incident syphilis on HIV incidence.

Conclusions: In HIV-seronegative MSM, syphilis infection was associated with HIV acquisition in this PrEP trial; a syphilis diagnosis should prompt providers to offer PrEP unless otherwise contraindicated.

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Editor’s notes: The Preexposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) trial and other recent trials have illustrated clearly that preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with emtricitabine/tenofovir (FTC/TDF) dramatically reduces the risk of HIV when used correctly and consistently. There is current discussion about the practical implications of these findings. This paper confirms a strong association between incident syphilis and HIV acquisition among men who have sex with men (MSM), and illustrates that syphilis did not attenuate the protective benefit of FTC/TDF against HIV. Syphilis continues to be prevalent among MSM in many settings, and the screening prevalence of 13% in this study is consistent with global estimates. These results highlight that individuals with syphilis are a key group for HIV acquisition. The results suggest that a new diagnosis of syphilis is an important opportunity for PrEP initiation, unless contraindications are present. This would be in addition to immediate syphilis treatment, and treatment for sexual partners. 

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Low CD4 counts among alcohol-dependent people on antiretroviral therapy – not due to poor adherence

Alcohol dependence and CD4 cell count: is there a relationship?

Malbergier A, Amaral RA, Cardoso LD. AIDS Care. 2014 Sep 1:1-5. [Epub ahead of print]

Alcohol and other drugs use seem to be common among people infected with HIV on antiretroviral treatment (ART). Their effects on HIV progression is still in debate. This study aimed to assess the association between alcohol and drug use and an HIV disease progression biomarker (CD4 cell count) among patients on ART. A cross-sectional study was carried out at an HIV treatment center affiliated with Medical School of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Four hundred and thirty-eight HIV-positive patients on ART were interviewed by trained psychiatrists and psychologists using the following instruments: Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I), Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Simplified Medication Adherence Questionnaire (SMAQ). In the previous month, 219 (50%) and 41 (9.3%) patients reported use of alcohol and illicit drugs, respectively. Fifty patients (12.6%) were classified as having harmful alcohol use by AUDIT. According to SCID-I, 80 patients (18.3%) were alcohol abusers, 24 (5.5%) alcohol dependents, and 21 (4.2%) had a current depressive disorder. Almost 73% (n = 319-72.8%) of the patients were adherent to ART. Alcohol dependents were nine times (p < 0.01) more likely to have CD4 cell count ≤200/mm3, and this association was independent of ART adherence. In conclusion, alcohol dependence seems to be associated with low CD4 cell count in HIV-positive patients. Based on these data, HIV health care workers should always assess alcohol consumption in the treatment setting, and patients should be advised that alcohol dependence may be linked to low CD4.

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Editor’s notes: The prognosis for people living with HIV who initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART) depends not only on their adherence to ART, but also the presence of co-morbid health conditions. There is now increasing focus on the role mental health disorders have on HIV-related outcomes. In this study of 438 HIV positive people on ART in Brazil, nearly 20% of individuals were found to be abusing alcohol, and five percent were diagnosed as being alcohol dependent. The people who were alcohol dependent were nine times more likely to have CD4 count <200/mm3, an association which was independent of ART adherence, HIV viral load and illicit substance use. As the availability of mental health care in low- and middle-income countries continues to expand, people living with HIV will comprise a key population for these services. Future research must confirm whether the relationship between alcohol dependence and CD4 count persists over time, and how alcohol dependence services can be integrated with HIV care services.

Latin America
Brazil
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Counting and classifying global deaths

Global, regional, and national incidence and mortality for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria during 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.

Murray CJ, Ortblad KF, Guinovart C, et al. Lancet. 2014 Sep 13;384(9947):1005-70. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60844-8. Epub 2014 Jul 22.

Background: The Millennium Declaration in 2000 brought special global attention to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria through the formulation of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6. The Global Burden of Disease 2013 study provides a consistent and comprehensive approach to disease estimation for between 1990 and 2013, and an opportunity to assess whether accelerated progress has occurred since the Millennium Declaration.

Methods: To estimate incidence and mortality for HIV, we used the UNAIDS Spectrum model appropriately modified based on a systematic review of available studies of mortality with and without antiretroviral therapy (ART). For concentrated epidemics, we calibrated Spectrum models to fit vital registration data corrected for misclassification of HIV deaths. In generalised epidemics, we minimised a loss function to select epidemic curves most consistent with prevalence data and demographic data for all-cause mortality. We analysed counterfactual scenarios for HIV to assess years of life saved through prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and ART. For tuberculosis, we analysed vital registration and verbal autopsy data to estimate mortality using cause of death ensemble modelling. We analysed data for corrected case-notifications, expert opinions on the case-detection rate, prevalence surveys, and estimated cause-specific mortality using Bayesian meta-regression to generate consistent trends in all parameters. We analysed malaria mortality and incidence using an updated cause of death database, a systematic analysis of verbal autopsy validation studies for malaria, and recent studies (2010-13) of incidence, drug resistance, and coverage of insecticide-treated bednets.

Findings: Globally in 2013, there were 1.8 million new HIV infections (95% uncertainty interval 1.7 million to 2.1 million), 29.2 million prevalent HIV cases (28.1 to 31.7), and 1.3 million HIV deaths (1.3 to 1.5). At the peak of the epidemic in 2005, HIV caused 1.7 million deaths (1.6 million to 1.9 million). Concentrated epidemics in Latin America and eastern Europe are substantially smaller than previously estimated. Through interventions including PMTCT and ART, 19.1 million life-years (16.6 million to 21.5 million) have been saved, 70.3% (65.4 to 76.1) in developing countries. From 2000 to 2011, the ratio of development assistance for health for HIV to years of life saved through intervention was US$ 4498 in developing countries. Including in HIV-positive individuals, all-form tuberculosis incidence was 7.5 million (7.4 million to 7.7 million), prevalence was 11.9 million (11.6 million to 12.2 million), and number of deaths was 1.4 million (1.3 million to 1.5 million) in 2013. In the same year and in only individuals who were HIV-negative, all-form tuberculosis incidence was 7.1 million (6.9 million to 7.3 million), prevalence was 11.2 million (10.8 million to 11.6 million), and number of deaths was 1.3 million (1.2 million to 1.4 million). Annualised rates of change (ARC) for incidence, prevalence, and death became negative after 2000. Tuberculosis in HIV-negative individuals disproportionately occurs in men and boys (versus women and girls); 64.0% of cases (63.6 to 64.3) and 64.7% of deaths (60.8 to 70.3). Globally, malaria cases and deaths grew rapidly from 1990 reaching a peak of 232 million cases (143 million to 387 million) in 2003 and 1.2 million deaths (1.1 million to 1.4 million) in 2004. Since 2004, child deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa have decreased by 31.5% (15.7 to 44.1). Outside of Africa, malaria mortality has been steadily decreasing since 1990.

Interpretation: Our estimates of the number of people living with HIV are 18.7% smaller than UNAIDS's estimates in 2012. The number of people living with malaria is larger than estimated by WHO. The number of people living with HIV, tuberculosis, or malaria have all decreased since 2000. At the global level, upward trends for malaria and HIV deaths have been reversed and declines in tuberculosis deaths have accelerated. 101 countries (74 of which are developing) still have increasing HIV incidence. Substantial progress since the Millennium Declaration is an encouraging sign of the effect of global action.

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Editor’s notes: The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study uses standard methods to compare and track over time national distributions of deaths by cause, and the prevalence of disease and disability.  This detailed report focuses on HIV, TB and Malaria. It presents regional summaries of incidence, prevalence and mortality rates, and national estimates of the number of male and female deaths and new infections. Point estimates are shown for 2013, and annualised rates of change for 1990-2000 and 2000-2013. These highlight the contrasting trends in disease impact before and after the formulation of the Millennium Development Goal to combat these diseases.  The global peak of HIV mortality occurred in 2005, but regional annualised rates of change for 2000-2013 indicate that HIV deaths are still increasing significantly in east Asia, southern Africa, and most rapidly in eastern Europe.

The GBD 2013 global estimates of new infections and deaths agree closely with the corresponding estimates made by UNAIDS. But there are significant differences in the respective estimates of the number of people currently living with HIV (UNAIDS estimates are some 18% higher), and historical trends in AIDS deaths, with UNAIDS judging that the recent fall has been steeper. These differences are attributed primarily to methods used in the GBD study to ensure that the sum of deaths from specific causes fits the estimated all cause total, and to varying assumptions about historical survival patterns following HIV infection. 

It may be worthwhile to look at a comment by Michel Sidibé, Mark Dybul, and Deborah Birx in the Lancet on MDG 6 and beyond: from halting and reversing AIDS to ending the epidemic which refers to this study.

Epidemiology
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