Articles tagged as "Ethiopia"

Task shifting for initiation and maintenance of antiretroviral therapy does not decrease quality of care

Task shifting from doctors to non-doctors for initiation and maintenance of antiretroviral therapy.

Kredo T, Adeniyi FB, Bateganya M, Pienaar E. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jul 1;7:CD007331. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007331.pub3.

Background: The high levels of healthcare worker shortage is recognised as a severe impediment to increasing peoples’ access to antiretroviral therapy. This is particularly of concern where the burden of disease is greatest and the access to trained doctors is limited. This review aims to better inform HIV care programmes that are currently underway, and those planned, by assessing if task-shifting care from doctors to non-doctors provides both high quality and safe care for all people requiring antiretroviral treatment.

Objectives: To evaluate the quality of initiation and maintenance of HIV/AIDS care in models that task shift care from doctors to non-doctors.

Search methods:  We conducted a comprehensive search to identify all relevant studies regardless of language or publication status (published, unpublished, in press, and in progress) from 1 January 1996 to 28 March 2014, with major HIV/AIDS conferences searched 23 May 2014. We had also contacted relevant organizations and researchers. Key words included MeSH terms and free-text terms relevant to 'task shifting', 'skill mix', 'integration of tasks', 'service delivery' and 'health services accessibility'.

Selection criteria: We included controlled trials (randomised or non-randomised), controlled-before and after studies, and cohort studies (prospective or retrospective) comparing doctor-led antiretroviral therapy delivery to delivery that included another cadre of health worker other than a doctor, for initiating treatment, continuing treatment, or both, in HIV infected patients.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently screened titles, abstracts and descriptor terms of the results of the electronic search and applied our eligibility criteria using a standardized eligibility form to full texts of potentially eligible or uncertain abstracts. Two reviewers independently extracted data on standardized data extraction forms. Where possible, data were pooled using random effects meta-analysis. We assessed evidence quality with GRADE methodology.

Main results: Ten studies met our inclusion criteria, all of which were conducted in Africa. Of these four were randomised controlled trials while the remaining six were cohort studies. From the trial data, when nurses initiated and provided follow-up HIV therapy, there was high quality evidence of no difference in death at one year, unadjusted risk ratio was 0.96 (95% CI 0.82 to 1.12), one trial, cluster adjusted n =     2 770. There was moderate quality evidence of lower rates of losses to follow-up at one year, relative risk of 0.73 (95% CI 0.55 to 0.97). From the cohort data, there was low quality evidence that there may be an increased risk of death in the task shifting group, relative risk 1.23 (95% CI 1.14 to 1.33, two cohorts, n = 39 160) and very low quality data reporting no difference in patients lost to follow-up between groups, relative risk 0.30 (95% CI 0.05 to 1.94). From the trial data, when doctors initiated therapy and nurses provided follow-up, there was moderate quality evidence that there is probably no difference in death compared with doctor-led care at one year, relative risk of 0.89 (95% CI 0.59 to 1.32), two trials, cluster adjusted n = 4 332. There was moderate quality evidence that there is probably no difference in the numbers of patients lost to follow-up at one year, relative risk 1.27 (95% CI 0.92 to 1.77), P = 0.15. From the cohort data, there is very low quality data that death at one year may be lower in the task shifting group, relative risk 0.19 (95% CI 0.05 to 0.78), one cohort, n =  2 772, and very low quality evidence that loss to follow-up was reduced, relative risk 0.34 (95% CI 0.18 to 0.66). From the trial data, for maintenance therapy delivered in the community there was moderate quality evidence that there is probably no difference in mortality when doctors deliver care in the hospital or specially trained field workers provide home-based maintenance care and antiretroviral therapy at one year, relative risk 1.0 (95% CI 0.62 to 1.62), 1 trial, cluster adjusted n = 559. There is moderate quality evidence from this trial that losses to follow-up are probably no different at one year, relative risk 0.52 (0.12 to 2.3), P = 0.39. The cohort studies did not report on one year follow-up for these outcomes. Across the studies that reported on virological and immunological outcomes, there was no clear evidence of difference whether a doctor or nurse or clinical officer delivered therapy. Three studies report on costs to patients, indicating a reduction in travel costs to treatment facilities where task shifting was occurring closer to patient’s homes. There is conflicting evidence regarding the relative cost to the health system, as implementation of the strategy may increase costs. The two studies reporting the patient and staff perceptions of the quality of care, report good acceptability of the service by patients, and general acceptance by doctors of the shifting of roles. One trial reported on the time to initiation of antiretroviral therapy, finding no clear evidence of a difference between groups. The same trial reports on new diagnosis of tuberculosis which favours nurse initiation of HIV care for increasing the numbers of diagnoses of tuberculosis made.

Authors' conclusions: Our review found moderate quality evidence that shifting responsibility from doctors to adequately trained and supported nurses or community health workers for managing HIV patients probably does not decrease the quality of care and, in the case of nurse initiated care, may decrease the numbers of patients lost to follow-up.

Abstract   Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: A strategy of decentralisation of HIV care, combined with shifting of tasks from doctors to non-doctors and other cadres of health workers, has been key to improving access to therapy for people living with HIV in high prevalence settings.

This systematic review focuses on shifting HIV care from doctors to non-doctors (“task shifting” or “task sharing”). Task shifting raises concerns that the quality of care may be less good when delivered by less specialised staff. The authors compared quality of care (as measured by mortality rate at one year), loss to follow-up, laboratory parameters and costs among three types of health service models: 1) doctor versus nurse or clinical officer care for initiation and maintenance of antiretroviral therapy; 2) doctor versus nurse or clinical officer for maintenance of antiretroviral therapy; and 3) doctor versus community health workers for maintenance of antiretroviral therapy.

The authors found similar quality of care among the three types of health care models, and interestingly fewer numbers of people lost to follow-up in the model of nurse-initiated care.

This systematic review is a useful summary of the evidence base supporting task shifting from doctors to adequately trained and supported nurses and community health workers.

Health care delivery
Africa
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WHO clinical staging misses a significant proportion of antiretroviral therapy eligible individuals

Diagnostic accuracy of the WHO clinical staging system for defining eligibility for ART in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Munthali C, Taegtmeyer M, Garner PG, Lalloo DG, Squire SB, Corbett EL, Ford N, MacPherson P. J Int AIDS Soc. 2014 Jun 12;17:18932. doi: 10.7448/IAS.17.1.18932. eCollection 2014.

Introduction: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that HIV-positive adults with CD4 count ≤500 cells/mm3 initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART). In many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, CD4 count is not widely available or consistently used and instead the WHO clinical staging system is used to determine ART eligibility. However, concerns have been raised regarding its discriminatory ability to identify patients eligible to start ART. We therefore reviewed the accuracy of WHO stage 3 or 4 assessment in identifying ART eligibility according to CD4 count thresholds for ART initiation.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed and Global Health databases and conference abstracts using a comprehensive strategy for studies that compared the Results of WHO clinical staging with CD4 count thresholds. Studies performed in sub-Saharan Africa and published in English between 1998 and 2013 were eligible for inclusion according to our predefined study protocol. Two authors independently extracted data and assessed methodological quality and risk of bias using the Quality Assessment Tool for Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS-2) tool. Summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity were derived for each CD4 count threshold and hierarchical summary receiver operator characteristic curves were plotted.

Results: Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria, including 25 032 participants from 14 countries. Most studies assessed individuals attending ART clinics prior to treatment initiation. WHO clinical stage 3 or 4 disease had a sensitivity of 60% (95% CI: 45-73%, Q=914.26, p<0.001) and specificity of 73% (95% CI: 60-83%, Q=1439.43, p<0.001) for a CD4 threshold of ≤200 cells/mm3 (11 studies); sensitivity and specificity for a threshold of CD4 count ≤350 cells/mm3 were 45% (95% CI: 26-66%, Q=1607.31, p<0.001) and 85% (95% CI: 69-93%, Q=896.70, p<0.001), respectively (six studies). For the threshold of CD4 count ≤500 cells/mm3 sensitivity was 14% (95% CI: 13-15%) and specificity was 95% (95% CI: 94-96%) (one study).

Conclusions: When used for individual treatment decisions, WHO clinical staging misses a high proportion of individuals who are ART eligible by CD4 count, with sensitivity falling as CD4 count criteria rises. Access to accurate, accessible, robust and affordable CD4 count testing methods will be a pressing need for as long as ART initiation decisions are based on criteria other than seropositivity.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access  

Editor’s notes: This study highlights the major shortcomings of WHO clinical staging when identifying antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligible individuals, with decreasing sensitivity of clinical staging for eligibility at higher CD4 thresholds. There remains limited access to CD4 count testing in many settings in sub-Saharan Africa. The individual and public health benefit of earlier ART initiation will not be achieved unless strategies other than WHO clinical staging are implemented. Access to affordable, quality assured CD4 count testing in all ART initiation clinics may never be feasible in the most resource-constrained settings. Universal treatment, removing the need for CD4 count testing, may be the way to ensure that eligible individuals are started on ART in a timely way.

Africa
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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
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Systematic review highlights gaps in depression research in sub-Saharan Africa

Reliability and validity of depression assessment among persons with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Tsai AC. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 May 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Objectives: To systematically review the reliability and validity of instruments used to screen for major depressive disorder or assess depression symptom severity among persons with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: A systematic evidence search protocol was applied to seven bibliographic databases. Studies examining the reliability and/or validity of depression assessment tools were selected for inclusion if they were based on data collected from HIV-positive adults in any African member state of the United Nations. Random-effects meta-analysis was employed to calculate pooled estimates of depression prevalence. In a subgroup of studies of criterion-related validity, the bivariate random-effects model was used to calculate pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity.

Results: Of 1 117 records initially identified, I included 13 studies of 5 373 persons with HIV in 7 sub-Saharan African countries. Reported estimates of Cronbach's alpha ranged from 0.63-0.95, and analyses of internal structure generally confirmed the existence of a depression-like construct accounting for a substantial portion of variance. The pooled prevalence of probable depression was 29.5% (95% CI, 20.5-39.4), while the pooled prevalence of major depressive disorder was 13.9% (95% CI, 9.7-18.6). The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale was the most frequently studied instrument, with a pooled sensitivity of 0.82 (95% CI, 0.73-0.87) for detecting major depressive disorder.

Conclusions: Depression screening instruments yielded relatively high false positive rates. Overall, few studies described the reliability and/or validity of depression instruments in sub-Saharan Africa.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: This is the first systematic review of depression screening and diagnostic instruments among HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa. The depression treatment gap for people living with HIV in high-income countries is considerable, and is likely to be even greater in sub-Saharan Africa. The eligible studies in this review were geographically concentrated in southern and eastern Africa. Prevalence of depression overall was high, but was substantially lower among people who had initiated HIV treatment than among people who had not. Additionally, depression prevalence estimates were twice as high when using screening tools rather than diagnostic criteria, indicating a high false positivity rate. This systematic review highlights critical areas for future research, particularly in validating depression screening tools and in expanding investigation of HIV and depression co-morbidity beyond South Africa and Uganda.

Africa
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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.

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Pervasive geographic and transportation-related barriers to HIV services use in sub-Saharan Africa

Impact of geographic and transportation-related barriers on HIV outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review.

Lankowski AJ, Siedner MJ, Bangsberg DR, Tsai AC. AIDS Behav. 2014 Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Difficulty obtaining reliable transportation to clinic is frequently cited as a barrier to HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Numerous studies have sought to characterize the impact of geographic and transportation-related barriers on HIV outcomes in SSA, but to date there has been no systematic attempt to summarize these findings. In this systematic review, we summarized this body of literature. We searched for studies conducted in SSA examining the following outcomes in the HIV care continuum: (1) voluntary counseling and testing, (2) pre-antiretroviral therapy (ART) linkage to care, (3) loss to follow-up and mortality, and (4) ART adherence and/or viral suppression. We identified 34 studies containing 52 unique estimates of association between a geographic or transportation-related barrier and an HIV outcome. There was an inverse effect in 23 estimates (44 %), a null association in 26 (50 %), and a paradoxical beneficial impact in 3 (6 %). We conclude that geographic and transportation-related barriers are associated with poor outcomes across the continuum of HIV care.

Abstract

Editor’s notes: This systematic review focuses on the importance of structural barriers to uptake of HIV treatment and care. Specifically, these are the association between geographic and transportation-related barriers and poor outcomes among HIV positive persons. Most of the quantitative and qualitative evidence reviewed in this paper (from 66 studies in sub-Saharan Africa) support the authors’ hypothesis that geographic and transportation-related barriers contribute to poor outcomes in HIV-positive individuals at all points along the continuum of HIV care. These were indexed in terms of voluntary counselling and testing, pre- antiretroviral therapy linkage to care, loss to follow-up, and adherence and/or viral suppression. A lack of association between these barriers and HIV services use was more common in studies where the study had clear limitations. For example, the use of self-reported as opposed to objective measures of exposures, small sample sizes, and the lack of control for confounding variables. The study has important policy implications related to the decentralisation of HIV treatment and care services, point-of-care services delivery, the provision of transportation stipends, the simplification of management protocols, and the reduction in the frequency of follow up visits.

Africa
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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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Intrauterine infections, but not obstetric complications, more common among pregnant women with HIV

HIV and the Risk of Direct Obstetric Complications: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. 

Calvert C, Ronsmans C. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 4;8(10):e74848. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074848.

Background: Women of reproductive age in parts of sub-Saharan Africa are faced both with high levels of HIV and the threat of dying from the direct complications of pregnancy. Clinicians practicing in such settings have reported a high incidence of direct obstetric complications among HIV-infected women, but the evidence supporting this is unclear. The aim of this systematic review is to establish whether HIV-infected women are at increased risk of direct obstetric complications.

Methods and findings: Studies comparing the frequency of obstetric haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, dystocia and intrauterine infections in HIV-infected and uninfected women were identified. Summary estimates of the odds ratio (OR) for the association between HIV and each obstetric complication were calculated through meta-analyses. In total, 44 studies were included providing 66 data sets; 17 on haemorrhage, 19 on hypertensive disorders, five on dystocia and 25 on intrauterine infections. Meta-analysis of the OR from studies including vaginal deliveries indicated that HIV-infected women had over three times the risk of a puerperal sepsis compared with HIV-uninfected women [pooled OR: 3.43, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.00-5.85]; this figure increased to nearly six amongst studies only including women who delivered by caesarean (pooled OR: 5.81, 95% CI: 2.42-13.97). For other obstetric complications the evidence was weak and inconsistent.

Conclusions: The higher risk of intrauterine infections in HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women may require targeted strategies involving the prophylactic use of antibiotics during labour. However, as the huge excess of pregnancy-related mortality in HIV-infected women is unlikely to be due to a higher risk of direct obstetric complications, reducing this mortality will require non obstetric interventions involving access to ART in both pregnant and non-pregnant women.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: Women with HIV are thought to have a higher risk of adverse outcomes during pregnancy. This review is valuable in summarizing available data on this topic. Many of the included studies predated the wide availability of antiretroviral therapy. There was a clear association between HIV infection and intrauterine infections, but not with the other obstetric complications, e.g., obstetric haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, dystocia, examined in the review. Considering individual conditions analysed, HIV infection was associated with antepartum haemorrhage, (but not postpartum haemorrhage). It was also found to be associated with pregnancy-induced hypertension (but not pre-eclampsia or eclampsia), and uterine rupture or prolonged labour (but not other complications of dystocia). The authors note that the studies were generally of low quality, and there were too few studies to examine the effect of antiretroviral therapy on these complications.  

Given the excess of intrauterine infections in women with HIV, the authors suggest that these might be preventable with prophylactic antibiotics. Overall, where causes of maternal mortality are documented, pregnant women with HIV are more likely to die of non-pregnancy related infections, than of obstetric complications. Specifically, non-pregnancy related infections are tuberculosis, pneumonia or meningitis. Pregnant women living with HIV need access to antenatal services and a skilled attendant at delivery. But, the top priority with respect to reducing maternal mortality is effective antiretroviral therapy.

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Decentralised HIV treatment is no worse than hospital based care, and in some cases better

Decentralising HIV treatment in lower- and middle-income countries.

Kredo T, Ford N, Adeniyi FB, Garner P. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jun 27;6:CD009987. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009987.pub2.

Background:  Policy makers, health staff and communities recognise that health services in lower- and middle-income countries need to improve people's access to HIV treatment and retention to treatment programmes. One strategy is to move antiretroviral delivery from hospitals to more peripheral health facilities or even beyond health facilities. This could increase the number of people with access to care, improve health outcomes, and enhance retention in treatment programmes. On the other hand, providing care at less sophisticated levels in the health service or at community-level may decrease quality of care and result in worse health outcomes. To address these uncertainties, we summarised the research studies examining the risks and benefits of decentralising antiretroviral therapy service delivery.

Objectives: To assess the effects of various models that decentralised HIV treatment and care to more basic levels in the health system for initiating and maintaining antiretroviral therapy.

Search methods: We conducted a comprehensive search to identify all relevant studies regardless of language or publication status (published, unpublished, in press, and in progress) from 1 January 1996 to 31 March 2013, and contacted relevant organisations and researchers. The search terms included 'decentralisation', 'down referral', 'delivery of health care', and 'health services accessibility'.

Selection criteria: Our inclusion criteria were controlled trials (randomised and non-randomised), controlled-before and after studies, and cohorts (prospective and retrospective) in which HIV-infected people were either initiated on antiretroviral therapy or maintained on therapy in a decentralised setting in lower- and middle-income countries. We define decentralisation as providing treatment at a more basic level in the health system to the comparator.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors applied the inclusion criteria and extracted data independently. We designed a framework to describe different decentralisation strategies, and then grouped studies against these strategies. Data were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. Because loss to follow up in HIV programmes is known to include some deaths, we used attrition as our primary outcome, defined as death plus loss to follow-up. We assessed evidence quality with GRADE methodology.

Main results: Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria, all but one were from Africa, comprising two cluster randomised trials and 14 cohort studies. Antiretroviral therapy started at a hospital and maintained at a health centre (partial decentralisation) probably reduces attrition (RR 0.46, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.71, 4 studies, 39 090 patients, moderate quality evidence). There may be fewer patients lost to care with this model (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.69, low quality evidence).We are uncertain whether there is a difference in attrition for antiretroviral therapy started and maintained at a health centre (full decentralisation) compared to a hospital at 12 months (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.47 to 1.02; four studies, 56 360 patients, very low quality evidence), but there are probably fewer patients lost to care with this model (RR 0.3, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.54, moderate quality evidence). When antiretroviral maintenance therapy is delivered at home by trained volunteers, there is probably no difference in attrition at 12 months (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.62 to 1.46, two trials, 1453 patients, moderate quality evidence).

Authors' conclusions: Decentralisation of HIV care aims to improve patient access and retention in care. Most data were from good quality cohort studies but confounding between site of treatment and outcomes cannot be excluded. Nevertheless, this review found that attrition appears to be lower in partial decentralisation models of treatment, where antiretrovirals were started at hospital and continued in the health centre; with antiretroviral drugs started and continued at health centres, no difference in attrition was detected, but there were fewer patients lost to care. For antiretroviral therapy provided at home by trained volunteers, no difference in outcomes was detected when compared to facility-based care.

Abstract   Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: As we aim to reach targets of 15 million people on ART by 2015, there is a great need to expand ART services and make them more accessible and to use models that can be scaled up given the constraints within the health sector. One approach is to decentralise care and provide follow up care to patients in health centres or at home. This is a systematic review of the impact of three models of decentralised care on patient attrition (the sum of lost to follow up and mortality) over time, with varying degree of transferring initiation and follow-up to peripheral service levels (from hospital to health centre or community base care). All three analyses showed that decentralised services are at least as good as more centralised approaches for patient retention; while the two health centre based models appear to significantly improve retention relative to a hospital based model. This provides important evidence the potential of decentralised ART to greatly expand treatment access, in particular to rural areas. 

Africa, Asia
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Disproportionately high HIV risk and gender disparity in prevalence among urban poor in Sub-Saharan Africa

The disproportionate high risk of HIV infection among the urban poor in sub-Saharan Africa.

Magadi MA. AIDS Behav. 2013 Jun;17(5):1645-54. doi: 10.1007/s10461-012-0217-y.

The link between HIV infection and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is rather complex and findings from previous studies remain inconsistent. While some argue that poverty increases vulnerability, existing empirical evidence largely support the view that wealthier men and women have higher prevalence of HIV. In this paper, we examine the association between HIV infection and urban poverty in SSA, paying particular attention to differences in risk factors of HIV infection between the urban poor and non-poor. The study is based on secondary analysis of data from the Demographic and Health Surveys from 20 countries in SSA, conducted during 2003-2008. We apply multilevel logistic regression models, allowing the urban poverty risk factor to vary across countries to establish the extent to which the observed patterns are generalizable across countries in the SSA region. The results reveal that the urban poor in SSA have significantly higher odds of HIV infection than urban non-poor counterparts, despite poverty being associated with a significantly lower risk among rural residents. Furthermore, the gender disparity in HIV infection (i.e. the disproportionate higher risk among women) is amplified among the urban poor. The paper confirms that the public health consequence of urban poverty that has been well documented in previous studies with respect to maternal and child health outcomes does apply to the risk of HIV infection. The positive association between household wealth and HIV prevalence observed in previous studies largely reflects the situation in the rural areas where the majority of the SSA populations reside.

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Editor’s notes: Evidence on the association between socio-economic position and HIV incidence in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has been mixed and appears to be changing over time. Although wealth was previously a predictor of HIV infection, it has recently been suggested that poverty is increasingly driving new infections in mature epidemics, especially in rural areas, where the majority of the population in SSA resides. With high rates of urbanisation both in SSA and globally (according to UNAIDS 2 of every 3 people living with HIV will be living in urban areas by 2030), this article provides important disaggregated evidence of the higher risk of HIV infection among the urban poor as well, and particularly among poor urban women. Even after controlling for sexual behaviour, the results suggest that other structural factors that characterise the environment, in which the urban poor live, such as unemployment, discrimination and violence, may be playing a key role. Interestingly, higher educational attainment was found to be associated with higher HIV risk among the urban poor, while it appeared to be protective among the better-off urban population. This may be pointing towards the ‘inverse equity hypothesis’, discussed in another paper this month (Hargreaves et al.), whereby groups with higher socio-economic position (wealth and/or education) are expected to benefit first from HIV/health interventions, thereby initially widening the gap in health outcomes until the poor catch up. 

Africa
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