Articles tagged as "Brazil"

More data needed from routine programme data on antiretroviral therapy cascade outcomes among female sex workers

Antiretroviral therapy uptake, attrition, adherence and outcomes among HIV-infected female sex workers: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Mountain E, Mishra S, Vickerman P, Pickles M, Gilks C, Boily MC. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 29;9(9):e105645. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105645. eCollection 2014.

Purpose: We aimed to characterize the antiretroviral therapy (ART) cascade among female sex workers (FSWs) globally.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, Embase and MEDLINE in March 2014 to identify studies reporting on ART uptake, attrition, adherence, and outcomes (viral suppression or CD4 count improvements) among HIV-infected FSWs globally. When possible, available estimates were pooled using random effects meta-analyses (with heterogeneity assessed using Cochran's Q test and I2 statistic).

Results: 39 studies, reporting on 21 different FSW study populations in Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and Central America and the Caribbean, were included. Current ART use among HIV-infected FSWs was 38% (95% CI: 29%-48%, I2 = 96%, 15 studies), and estimates were similar between high-, and low- and middle-income countries. Ever ART use among HIV-infected FSWs was greater in high-income countries (80%; 95% CI: 48%-94%, I2 = 70%, 2 studies) compared to low- and middle-income countries (36%; 95% CI: 7%-81%, I2 = 99%, 3 studies). Loss to follow-up after ART initiation was 6% (95% CI: 3%-11%, I2 = 0%, 3 studies) and death after ART initiation was 6% (95% CI: 3%-11%, I2 = 0%, 3 studies). The fraction adherent to ≥95% of prescribed pills was 76% (95% CI: 68%-83%, I2 = 36%, 4 studies), and 57% (95% CI: 46%-68%, I2 = 82%, 4 studies) of FSWs on ART were virally suppressed. Median gains in CD4 count after 6 to 36 months on ART, ranged between 103 and 241 cells/mm3 (4 studies).

Conclusions: Despite global increases in ART coverage, there is a concerning lack of published data on HIV treatment for FSWs. Available data suggest that FSWs can achieve levels of ART uptake, retention, adherence, and treatment response comparable to that seen among women in the general population, but these data are from only a few research settings. More routine programme data on HIV treatment among FSWs across settings should be collected and disseminated.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: Female sex workers remain a key population for HIV prevention, treatment and care. This is the first paper to systematically review and quantify the HIV treatment cascade among sex workers globally. The review highlights the scarcity of published data on HIV treatment among sex workers. For example, data were identified from only five countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe) and a lack of data from routine (non research) settings. Further, most studies presented data on current antiretroviral therapy (ART) or CD4 count at initiation rather than follow-up data on attrition, adherence or viral suppression. The results suggest that research cohorts have been largely successful at enrolling and retaining female sex workers on ART, but there may be an issue with adherence. Adherence, in the few studies where it was measured (usually by self-report or pill counts) was high, and similar to estimates from the general population. But just over half of the participants initiating ART achieved viral suppression in the four studies which looked at this. This indicates scope for improvements in adherence (and adherence measurement) in these populations. This is possibly due to individual-level and structural-level barriers that sex workers face when receiving HIV treatment and care

  • share

Model estimates large global burden of childhood tuberculosis infection and potentially preventable future tuberculosis disease

Burden of childhood tuberculosis in 22 high-burden countries: a mathematical modelling study.

Dodd PJ, Gardiner E, Coghlan R, Seddon JA. Lancet Glob Health. 2014 Aug;2(8):e453-9. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(14)70245-1. Epub 2014 Jul 8.

Background: Confirmation of a diagnosis of tuberculosis in children (aged <15 years) is challenging; under-reporting can result even when children do present to health services. Direct incidence estimates are unavailable, and WHO estimates build on paediatric notifications, with adjustment for incomplete surveillance by the same factor as adult notifications. We aimed to estimate the incidence of infection and disease in children, the prevalence of infection, and household exposure in the 22 countries with a high burden of the disease.

Methods: Within a mechanistic mathematical model, we combined estimates of adult tuberculosis prevalence in 2010, with aspects of the natural history of paediatric tuberculosis. In a household model, we estimated household exposure and infection. We accounted for the effects of age, BCG vaccination, and HIV infection. Additionally, we tested sensitivity to key structural assumptions by repeating all analyses without variation in BCG efficacy by latitude.

Findings: The median number of children estimated to be sharing a household with an individual with infectious tuberculosis in 2010 was 15 319 701 (IQR 13 766 297-17 061 821). In 2010, the median number of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections in children was 7 591 759 (5 800 053-9 969 780), and 650 977 children (424 871-983 118) developed disease. Cumulative exposure meant that the median number of children with latent infection in 2010 was 53 234 854 (41 111 669-68 959 804). The model suggests that 35% (23-54) of paediatric cases of tuberculosis in the 15 countries reporting notifications by age in 2010 were detected. India is predicted to account for 27% (22-33) of the total burden of paediatric tuberculosis in the 22 countries. The predicted proportion of tuberculosis burden in children for each country correlated with incidence, varying between 4% and 21%.

Interpretation: Our model has shown that the incidence of paediatric tuberculosis is higher than the number of notifications, particularly in young children. Estimates of current household exposure and cumulative infection suggest an enormous opportunity for preventive treatment.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: Estimating the burden of childhood tuberculosis has been largely neglected until recently. Children with tuberculosis rarely transmit and therefore from a control perspective, childhood tuberculosis does not notably contribute to the continuation of the tuberculosis epidemic. This modelling paper attempts to estimate the global burden of childhood tuberculosis infection and disease. Incidence estimates are made by using adult tuberculosis prevalence data to tackle the known limitations of using paediatric notification data. A second model estimates the prevalence of infection in children and household exposure, ignoring exposure outside of the household.  As with all mathematical model predictions, precision of estimates are dependent on the data used as inputs in the model. Despite these limitations, the paper draws attention to the fact that the burden of childhood tuberculosis infection and disease is significant and reflects failure of tuberculosis control in the 22 high-burden countries. The paper also highlights the fact that household contact tracing and preventive therapy in tuberculosis-exposed children could substantially reduce future tuberculosis-related morbidity.

Avoid TB deaths
Comorbidity, Epidemiology
Africa, Asia, Latin America
  • share

Applying theory on stigma to the life histories of children living with HIV

The "moral career" of perinatally HIV-infected children: revisiting Goffman's concept.

Cruz ML, Bastos FI, Darmont M, Dickstein P, Monteiro S. AIDS Care. 2014 Jul 23:1-4. [Epub ahead of print]

HIV-infected children usually live in vulnerable situations, experiencing discrimination and stigma commonly felt by other people living with HIV/AIDS. The present study aims to analyse primary socialisation of HIV-infected children and adolescents recruited from a public health service in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) as a social process that shapes a new generation of stigmatised and vulnerable persons. Research was informed by an interactionist perspective, focusing on key aspects of HIV-infected children and adolescents life histories under the conceptual frame of Erving Goffman's theories regarding "moral careers". Goffman defines the making of a moral career as the process through which a person learns that she/he possesses a particular attribute, which may lead her/him to be discredited by members of the surrounding society. We have identified aspects of life histories of HIV-vertically infected children and adolescents for each aspect of "moral career" as described by Goffman, relating them to as family structure, the experience of living HIV within the family, and the position and family role of a given subject. The patterns of "moral career" proposed by Goffman in 1963 were useful in identifying components of HIV-related stigma among children and adolescents. These include gender and social disadvantages, difficulty in coping with a child with a potentially severe disease, orphanhood, abandonment, adoption and disclosure of one's HIV serostatus. Primary socialisation of HIV-infected children and adolescents is a key piece of the complex HIV/AIDS-labelling process that could be targeted by interventions aiming to decrease stigma and marginalisation. Health care workers and stakeholders should be committed to ensuring education and guaranteeing the legal rights of this specific population, including the continuous provision of quality health care, full access to school and support to full disclosure of HIV diagnosis.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: This paper applies Goffman’s theory of ‘moral careers’ to analyse how children and adolescents living with HIV come to be socialised as stigmatised persons. Goffman’s theory identifies the process through which someone becomes defined as possessing a discrediting attribute, and is subsequently discriminated.

The authors collected the life histories of young people living with HIV in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Specifically the data were generated through researchers doing clinic observations at one of the city’s public hospitals. They identify four pivotal episodes over the course of an HIV positive young person’s life which socialise them to becoming a stigmatised person. These are: developing symptomatic diseases from an early age; their HIV diagnosis being kept a secret from them; learning of their HIV status as an adolescent having been asymptomatic; and learning about their HIV diagnosis within an orphanage or similar institution. This analysis also illuminates key opportunities to take action and prevent potential damage. The authors consider how, why and when children living with HIV become stigmatised during their early and adolescent lives. Crucially this paper includes important reflections on how children come to stigmatise themselves through absorbing the perceptions of the society within which they are living.  The authors argue that activities are needed, especially delivered by healthcare workers, which focus on these events by providing information and support to young people and their families. Such strategically timed action would positively affect the way these children grow up in their communities.   

Latin America
  • share

Identifying people most likely to benefit from HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis

HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis in men who have sex with men and transgender women: a secondary analysis of a phase 3 randomised controlled efficacy trial.

Buchbinder SP, Glidden DV, Liu AY, McMahan V, Guanira JV, Mayer KH, Goicochea P, Grant RM. Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Jun;14(6):468-75. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70025-8. Epub 2014 Mar 7.

Background: For maximum effect pre-exposure prophylaxis should be targeted to the subpopulations that account for the largest proportion of infections (population-attributable fraction [PAF]) and for whom the number needed to treat (NNT) to prevent infection is lowest. We aimed to estimate the PAF and NNT of participants in the iPrEx (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative) trial.

Methods: The iPrEx study was a randomised controlled efficacy trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis with coformulated tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine in 2 499 men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women. Participants aged 18 years or older who were male at birth were enrolled from 11 trial sites in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and the USA. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive either a pill with active pre-exposure prophylaxis or placebo, taken daily. We calculated the association between demographic and risk behaviour during screening and subsequent seroconversion among placebo recipients using a Poisson model, and we calculated the PAF and NNT for risk behaviour subgroups..

Findings: Patients were enrolled between July 10, 2007, and Dec 17, 2009, and were followed up until Nov 21, 2010. Of the 2 499 MSM and transgender women in the iPrEx trial, 1 251 were assigned to pre-exposure prophylaxis and 1 248 to placebo. 83 of 1 248 patients in the placebo group became infected with HIV during follow-up. Participants reporting receptive anal intercourse without a condom seroconverted significantly more often than those reporting no anal sex without a condom (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 5.11, 95% CI 1.55-16.79). The overall PAF for MSM and transgender women reporting receptive anal intercourse without a condom was 64% (prevalence 60%). Most of this risk came from receptive anal intercourse without a condom with partners with unknown serostatus (PAF 53%, prevalence 54%, AHR 4.76, 95% CI 1.44-15.71); by contrast, the PAF for receptive anal intercourse without a condom with an HIV-positive partner was 1% (prevalence 1%, AHR 7.11, 95% CI 0.70-72.75). The overall NNT per year for the cohort was 62 (95% CI 44-147). NNTs were lowest for MSM and transgender women self-reporting receptive anal intercourse without a condom (NNT 36), cocaine use (12), or a sexually transmitted infection (41). Having one partner and insertive anal sex without a condom had the highest NNTs (100 and 77, respectively).

Interpretation: Pre-exposure prophylaxis may be most effective at a population level if targeted toward MSM and transgender women who report receptive anal intercourse without a condom, even if they perceive their partners to be HIV negative. Substance use history and testing for STIs should also inform individual decisions to start pre-exposure prophylaxis. Consideration of the PAF and NNT can aid in discussion of the benefits and risks of pre-exposure prophylaxis with MSM and transgender women.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) is the only biomedical prevention activity shown to be effective against acquisition of HIV in men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, in a randomised controlled trial. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO recommend PreP for MSM and transgender women at high risk of HIV infection. However, many health care providers have difficulty assessing risk and neither the CDC nor WHO has yet provided specific behavioural criteria for when to use pre-exposure prophylaxis. The purpose of this study was to identify subpopulations of participants within the iPrEx trial, for whom PreP may have the largest effect on HIV prevention. The findings suggest that MSM and transgender women can be screened for potential eligibility for PreP in clinical practice by asking about recent receptive anal intercourse without a condom. Substance use history and testing for sexually transmitted infections should also be considered, to inform individual decisions to start pre-exposure prophylaxis.

  • share

Integrating HIV, malaria and diarrhoea prevention is far more efficient than vertical programmes

Scaling up integrated prevention campaigns for global health: costs and cost-effectiveness in 70 countries. 

Marseille E, Jiwani A, Raut A, Verguet S, Walson J, Kahn JG. BMJ Open. 2014 Jun 26;4(6):e003987. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003987.

Objective: This study estimated the health impact, cost and cost-effectiveness of an integrated prevention campaign (IPC) focused on diarrhoea, malaria and HIV in 70 countries ranked by per capita disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) burden for the three diseases.

Methods: We constructed a deterministic cost-effectiveness model portraying an IPC combining counselling and testing, cotrimoxazole prophylaxis, referral to treatment and condom distribution for HIV prevention; bed nets for malaria prevention; and provision of household water filters for diarrhoea prevention. We developed a mix of empirical and modelled cost and health impact estimates applied to all 70 countries. One-way, multiway and scenario sensitivity analyses were conducted to document the strength of our findings. We used a healthcare payer's perspective, discounted costs and DALYs at 3% per year and denominated cost in 2012 US dollars.

Primary and secondary outcomes: The primary outcome was cost-effectiveness expressed as net cost per DALY averted. Other outcomes included cost of the IPC; net IPC costs adjusted for averted and additional medical costs and DALYs averted.

Results: Implementation of the IPC in the 10 most cost-effective countries at 15% population coverage would cost US$583 million over 3 years (adjusted costs of US$398 million), averting 8.0 million DALYs. Extending IPC programmes to all 70 of the identified high-burden countries at 15% coverage would cost an adjusted US$51.3 billion and avert 78.7 million DALYs. Incremental cost-effectiveness ranged from US$49 per DALY averted for the 10 countries with the most favourable cost-effectiveness to US$119, US$181, US$335, US$1 692 and US$8 340 per DALY averted as each successive group of 10 countries is added ordered by decreasing cost-effectiveness.

Conclusions: IPC appears cost-effective in many settings, and has the potential to substantially reduce the burden of disease in resource-poor countries. This study increases confidence that IPC can be an important new approach for enhancing global health.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: Increasingly governments and policy makers are seeking to identify how to invest resources most effectively, to achieve multiple health and development outcomes. This paper presents a cost-effectiveness analysis of an integrated campaign to prevent diarrhoea, malaria and HIV.  

They developed a model to estimate the cost per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted by this intervention, across 70 countries with high disease burden, assuming 15% coverage. The authors categorise countries by income level and their opportunity index (i.e. the opportunity to avert DALYs by having a high disease burden). The findings suggest that an integrated prevention campaign (IPC) could cost as little as US$7 per DALY averted in Guinea-Bissau, a low income, high opportunity country. As would be expected, the contribution of the different IPC components varied by country, depending on their relative disease burdens. This suggests that further focusing of activities within countries may further improve efficiency.

The model was also used to consider potential roll out strategies across counties. For this, countries were grouped into blocks of 10, and ordered with increasing incremental-cost effectiveness. The authors suggest that reaching the top 40 countries with IPC, even at just 15% coverage, could achieve far greater health benefits, with a substantially lower budget, than requested under PEPFAR for antiretroviral therapy alone.

This paper provides further evidence of the need for a more integrated approach to improve population health across disease areas.

Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America
  • share

Poor accuracy of self-reported adherence to PrEP versus drug detection in many settings

Study product adherence measurement in the iPrEx placebo-controlled trial: concordance with drug detection.

Amico KR, Marcus JL, McMahan V, Liu A, Koester KA, Goicochea P, Anderson PL, Glidden D, Guanira J, Grant R. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 May 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Objective: To evaluate the concordance between adherence estimated by self-report (in-person interview or computer-assisted self-interview [CASI]), in-clinic pill counts, and pharmacy dispensation records and drug detection among participants in a placebo-controlled, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) HIV prevention trial (iPrEx).

Design: Cross-sectional evaluation of 510 participants who had drug concentration data and matched adherence assessments from their week-24 study visit.

Methods: Self-reported adherence collected via (1) interview and (2) CASI surveys, (3) adherence estimated by pill count, and (4) medication possession ratio (MPR) were contrasted to having a detectable level of drug concentrations (either tenofovir diphosphate [TFV-DP] or emtricitabine triphosphate [FTC-TP]) as well as to having evidence of consistent dosing (TFV-DP>/=16 fmol/10 cells), focusing on positive predictive values (PPV), overall and by research site.

Results: Overall, self-report and pharmacy records suggested high rates of product use (over 90% adherence); however, large discrepancies between these measures and drug detection were noted, which varied considerably between sites (PPV from 34% to 62%). Measures of adherence performed generally well in the US sites, but had poor accuracy in other research locations. MPR outperformed other measures but still had relatively low discrimination.

Conclusions: The sizable discrepancy between adherence measures and drug detection in certain regions highlights the potential contribution of factors that may have incentivized efforts to appear adherent. Understanding the processes driving adherence reporting in some settings, but not others, is essential for finding effective ways to increase accuracy in measurement of product use and may generalize to promotion efforts for open-label PrEP.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: This paper discusses the results of a sub-study conducted as part of the iPrEX randomised placebo-controlled trial. This trial tested the efficacy of once daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, in several sites globally. The iPrEX study was the first PrEP efficacy study providing tenofovir-based PrEP which reported positive results. It found a 44% protection against HIV acquisition. After further analysis, researchers discovered that participants with higher adherence rates as measured by drug concentrations in the blood, achieved higher levels of protection. This finding, coupled with analyses of the other PrEP prevention trials, highlighted the need to understand why participants in the trials did not take the PrEP. The study also emphasised the need to develop optimal measures of adherence, support strategies for adherence, and strategies for delivering the programme to those who are motivated to take PrEP, for future research and implementation purposes. This sub-study specifically examined the optimal strategies for measuring adherence, and found that measures relying on self-reporting and pill counts did not reflect drug level concentrations in the blood. The discrepancies with drug levels varied across sites, with wider discrepancies found in the more resource poor settings. The findings indicate a need for qualitative research to confirm suspicions, and to further understand how best to measure adherence, and encourage it, in future HIV prevention research studies. 

  • share

Meta-analysis finds partial support for elevated HIV prevalence among the military

Systematic review and meta-analysis of HIV prevalence among men in militaries in low income and middle income countries. 

Lloyd J, Papworth E, Grant L, Beyrer C, Baral S. Sex Transm Infect. 2014 Apr 7. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2013-051463. [Epub ahead of print]

Objectives: To determine whether the current HIV prevalence in militaries of low-income and middle-income countries is higher, the same, or lower than the HIV prevalence in the adult male population of those countries.

Methods: HIV prevalence data from low-income and middle-income countries' military men were systematically reviewed during 2000-2012 from peer reviewed journals, clearing-house databases and the internet. Standardised data abstraction forms were used to collect information on HIV prevalence, military branch and sample size. Random effects meta-analyses were completed with the Mantel-Haenszel method comparing HIV prevalence among military populations with other men in each country.

Results: 2 214 studies were retrieved, of which 18 studies representing nearly 150 000 military men across 11 countries and 4 regions were included. Military male HIV prevalence across the studies ranged from 0.06% (n=22 666) in India to 13.8% (n=2 733) in Tanzania with a pooled prevalence of 1.1% (n=147 591). HIV prevalence in male military populations in sub-Saharan Africa was significantly higher when compared with reproductive age (15-49 years) adult men (OR: 2.8, 95% CI 1.01 to 7.81). HIV prevalence in longer-serving male military populations compared with reproductive age adult men was significantly higher (OR: 2.68, 95% CI 1.65 to 4.35).

Conclusions: Our data reveals that across the different settings, the burden of HIV among militaries may be higher or lower than the civilian male populations. In this study, male military populations in sub-Saharan Africa, low-income countries and longer-serving men have significantly higher HIV prevalence. Given the national security implications of the increased burden of HIV, interventions targeting military personnel in these populations should be scaled up where appropriate.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Men in military service are considered a key population because they spend protracted periods away from home and may engage in casual or other high-risk sex. This is not just a health concern for the armed forces themselves, but countries have in the past refused the assistance of peacekeeping forces because they were deemed a source of new infections. This systematic review concludes that HIV infection rates in the military are not universally higher than among men of reproductive age in the general population. However, significantly elevated prevalence was detected in studies from sub-Saharan Africa and among military who have been in service for over one year. The latter suggests that the relatively high prevalence results from increased exposure during service rather than the disproportional recruitment of men with HIV into service. On the contrary, the prevalence among new recruits is lower than in the general population. Prevention efforts, including HIV testing and counselling, and condom distribution, need to be increased during deployment in settings where exposure to HIV is high.

Africa, Asia, Latin America
  • share

Fewer clinical events with early antiretroviral therapy in a trial among serodiscordant couples

Effects of early versus delayed initiation of antiretroviral treatment on clinical outcomes of HIV-1 infection: results from the phase 3 HPTN 052 randomised controlled trial.

Grinsztejn B, Hosseinipour MC, Ribaudo HJ, Swindells S, Eron J, Chen YQ, Wang L, Ou SS, Anderson M, McCauley M, Gamble T, Kumarasamy N, Hakim JG, Kumwenda J, Pilotto JH, Godbole SV, Chariyalertsak S, de Melo MG, Mayer KH, Eshleman SH, Piwowar-Manning E, Makhema J, Mills LA, Panchia R, Sanne I, Gallant J, Hoffman I, Taha TE, Nielsen-Saines K, Celentano D, Essex M, Havlir D, Cohen MS, HPTN 052-ACTG Study Team. Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Apr;14(4):281-90. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70692-3. Epub 2014 Mar 4.

Background: Use of antiretroviral treatment for HIV-1 infection has decreased AIDS-related morbidity and mortality and prevents sexual transmission of HIV-1. However, the best time to initiate antiretroviral treatment to reduce progression of HIV-1 infection or non-AIDS clinical events is unknown. We reported previously that early antiretroviral treatment reduced HIV-1 transmission by 96%. We aimed to compare the effects of early and delayed initiation of antiretroviral treatment on clinical outcomes.

Methods: The HPTN 052 trial is a randomised controlled trial done at 13 sites in nine countries. We enrolled HIV-1-serodiscordant couples to the study and randomly allocated them to either early or delayed antiretroviral treatment by use of permuted block randomisation, stratified by site. Random assignment was unblinded. The HIV-1-infected member of every couple initiated antiretroviral treatment either on entry into the study (early treatment group) or after a decline in CD4 count or with onset of an AIDS-related illness (delayed treatment group). Primary events were AIDS clinical events (WHO stage 4 HIV-1 disease, tuberculosis, and severe bacterial infections) and the following serious medical conditions unrelated to AIDS: serious cardiovascular or vascular disease, serious liver disease, end-stage renal disease, new-onset diabetes mellitus, and non-AIDS malignant disease. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.

Findings: 1 763 people with HIV-1 infection and a serodiscordant partner were enrolled in the study; 886 were assigned early antiretroviral treatment and 877 to the delayed treatment group (two individuals were excluded from this group after randomisation). Median CD4 counts at randomisation were 442 (IQR 373-522) cells per μL in patients assigned to the early treatment group and 428 (357-522) cells per μL in those allocated delayed antiretroviral treatment. In the delayed group, antiretroviral treatment was initiated at a median CD4 count of 230 (IQR 197-249) cells per μL. Primary clinical events were reported in 57 individuals assigned to early treatment initiation versus 77 people allocated to delayed antiretroviral treatment (hazard ratio 0.73, 95% CI 0.52-1.03; p=0.074). New-onset AIDS events were recorded in 40 participants assigned to early antiretroviral treatment versus 61 allocated delayed initiation (0.64, 0.43-0.96; p=0.031), tuberculosis developed in 17 versus 34 patients, respectively (0.49, 0.28-0.89, p=0.018), and primary non-AIDS events were rare (12 in the early group vs nine with delayed treatment). In total, 498 primary and secondary outcomes occurred in the early treatment group (incidence 24.9 per 100 person-years, 95% CI 22.5-27.5) versus 585 in the delayed treatment group (29.2 per 100 person-years, 26.5-32.1; p=0.025). 26 people died, 11 who were allocated to early antiretroviral treatment and 15 who were assigned to the delayed treatment group.

Interpretation: Early initiation of antiretroviral treatment delayed the time to AIDS events and decreased the incidence of primary and secondary outcomes. The clinical benefits recorded, combined with the striking reduction in HIV-1 transmission risk previously reported, provides strong support for earlier initiation of antiretroviral treatment.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: The HPTN 052 trial has received wide attention for its main result. This shows a large reduction in HIV transmission risk among HIV-serodiscordant couples where HIV-positive partners with CD4 counts between 350 and 550 started immediate antiretroviral therapy (ART). This was compared to deferring treatment until the CD4 count fell below 250 or an AIDS-defining illness occurred. This analysis reports on clinical events in the trial. Despite the trial population having relatively high CD4 counts at baseline, new AIDS-defining events, excluding tuberculosis, were the most common outcome. These were reduced in the early ART arm. Tuberculosis incidence was reduced by half. Non-AIDS events were rare.

For these trial results to translate into population level benefits, more people need to know their HIV status at an early stage, before they develop symptomatic disease. People with positive test results then need to link to care successfully so that treatment can be initiated. Stigma remains a key barrier to testing and accessing care in many settings. Virologic suppression among people in the intervention arm of this trial was very high, implying very good adherence to treatment. Strategies to support excellent adherence and retention are needed as ART programmes expand and include people starting ART earlier.

Comorbidity, HIV Treatment
Africa, Asia, Latin America
  • share

Masking diversity – the problems with labels for key populations

'Mobile men with money': HIV prevention and the erasure of difference.

Aggleton P, Bell SA, Kelly-Hanku A. Glob Public Health. 2014;9(3):257-70. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2014.889736. Epub 2014 Mar 4.

Mobile Men with Money is one of the latest risk categories to enter into HIV prevention discourse. Used in countries in Asia, the Pacific and Africa, it refers to diverse groups of men (e.g. businessmen, miners and itinerant wage labourers) who, in contexts of high population movement and economic disparity, find themselves at heightened risk of HIV as members of a 'most-at-risk population', or render others vulnerable to infection. How adequate is such a description? Does it make sense to develop HIV prevention programmes from such understandings? The history of the epidemic points to major weaknesses in the use of terminologies such as 'sex worker' and 'men who have sex with men' when characterising often diverse populations. Each of these terms carries negative connotations, portraying the individuals concerned as being apart from the 'general population', and posing a threat to it. This paper examines the diversity of men classified as mobile men with money, pointing to significant variations in mobility, wealth and sexual networking conducive to HIV transmission. It highlights the patriarchal, heteronormative and gendered assumptions frequently underpinning use of the category and suggests more useful ways of understanding men, masculinity, population movement, relative wealth in relation to HIV vulnerability and risk.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Criticism of the use of labels to identify groups of people considered to be at high risk of HIV infection is not new, but this paper serves as a timely reminder of the dangers of such labels and abbreviations. The authors explain why a term that has entered common usage in recent years ‘mobile men with money’, is inappropriate. They argue that the label plays to stereotypes of men as powerful risk takers and, usually, women as their vulnerable victims. The use of the term hides the diversity of men who move around because of their work and other activities, who may be in very different professions and circumstances. It also suggests that mobility is a negative activity, overlooking the great economic and other benefits of migration. They argue that the term is not helpful for HIV programming or activities.  It is unhelpful because it fails to take account of the structural factors that influence and shape the risks many men and women, face. It is often tempting to make use of abbreviations and catchy phrases in our work. This paper helps to remind us why we need to think carefully about terminology and labelling.

  • share

Treatment optimism and safer sex burnout are important aspects to consider in the age of expanding antiretroviral therapy for prevention and treatment: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Where does treatment optimism fit in? Examining factors associated with consistent condom use among people receiving antiretroviral treatment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Hanif H, Bastos FI, Malta M, Bertoni N, Winch PJ, Kerrigan D. AIDS Behav. 2014 Feb 17

In the era of highly active antiretrovirals, people living with HIV (PLWH) have resumed sexual activity in the context of longer and healthier lives, and thus the chances of transmitting the HIV virus, as well as the potential to be re-infected also increase. HIV treatment optimism has been found to be associated with sexual risk behaviors among PLWH in different settings. A cross sectional survey was conducted to examine the relationship between treatment optimism, safer sex burnout and consistent condom use as well as variables associated with treatment optimism in a sample of PLWH on antiretrovirals (ARVs) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (n = 604). Seventy-two percent of participants always used a condom in the last 6 months. Homosexual, bisexual, transexual persons were less likely to use condoms consistently than heterosexuals (AOR .58 CI .42–.78). Those who were treatment optimistic (AOR .46 CI .25–.88) were more likely not use a condom consistently in the past 6 months, as were participants who reported safer sex burnout (AOR .58 CI .36–.90). Sexual orientation, safer sex burnout, and lower education levels were significantly associated with higher treatment optimism in multivariate analysis. Study findings highlight the need to address psychosocial factors such as treatment optimism and safer sex burnout associated with lower consistent condom use among PLWH in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Editor’s notes: As HIV treatment becomes increasingly accessible, people living with HIV are able to live longer, healthier lives. Since HIV treatment is life-long, over time, people could experience a sense of complacency about the need for safer sex, defined as treatment optimism in this paper, or safer sex burnout (i.e. fatigue with having to always use condoms). This study employed a cross-sectional survey to explore the relationships between treatment optimism, safer sex burnout and condom use, in addition to other variables, in six clinic populations in Brazil. The overall study population was quite diverse in age, from 19 to 67 years. The majority of the population consisted of men (68%), and reported lower levels of education and low socio-economic status on average. Interestingly, higher education, lack of religious affiliation, higher income, and longer duration of treatment were associated with treatment optimism. These kinds of associations are not unlike what we see in populations of higher socio-economic status and vaccination rates. While 75% of the population reported consistent condom use, it is possible this was over-reported. It will be important to consider treatment optimism and safer sex burnout when expanding the use of antiretroviral drugs. Strategic messaging and repeated education on the importance of consistent safer sex practices will help ensure the success of new ARV-based interventions. 

Latin America
  • share