Articles tagged as "Kenya"

Vulnerabilities of children living with HIV positive adults

Children living with HIV-infected adults: estimates for 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Short SE, Goldberg RE. PLoS One. 2015 Nov 17; 10(11): e0142580.

Background: In sub-Saharan Africa many children live in extreme poverty and experience a burden of illness and disease that is disproportionately high. The emergence of HIV and AIDS has only exacerbated long-standing challenges to improving children's health in the region, with recent cohorts experiencing pediatric AIDS and high levels of orphan status, situations which are monitored globally and receive much policy and research attention. Children's health, however, can be affected also by living with HIV-infected adults, through associated exposure to infectious diseases and the diversion of household resources away from them. While long recognized, far less research has focused on characterizing this distinct and vulnerable population of HIV-affected children.

Methods: Using Demographic and Health Survey data from 23 countries collected between 2003 and 2011, we estimate the percentage of children living in a household with at least one HIV-infected adult. We assess overlaps with orphan status and investigate the relationship between children and the adults who are infected in their households.

Results: The population of children living in a household with at least one HIV-infected adult is substantial where HIV prevalence is high; in Southern Africa, the percentage exceeded 10% in all countries and reached as high as 36%. This population is largely distinct from the orphan population. Among children living in households with tested, HIV-infected adults, most live with parents, often mothers, who are infected; nonetheless, in most countries over 20% live in households with at least one infected adult who is not a parent.

Conclusion: Until new infections contract significantly, improvements in HIV/AIDS treatment suggest that the population of children living with HIV-infected adults will remain substantial. It is vital to on-going efforts to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality to consider whether current care and outreach sufficiently address the distinct vulnerabilities of these children.

Abstract Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: This paper is an important contribution to the literature on the impact of the HIV epidemic. Using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from 23 countries it highlights the considerable number of children living with HIV-positive adults in sub-Saharan Africa. However, notable exceptions from the analysis (no DHS data available) included South Africa. This, coupled with specific issues related to DHS data collection methods and response rates, means that the number of children living with HIV-positive adults is much higher. Reductions in mortality from HIV due to increased treatment availability and the addition of adults newly acquiring HIV means that population of children living with an HIV-positive adult will continue to increase in the near future.

Children living with HIV-positive adults are clearly vulnerable and like all vulnerable children should be focussed on in efforts to promote child wellbeing. The authors suggest, however, that children living with HIV-positive adults may have distinct vulnerabilities that need to be considered. These include direct exposure to opportunistic infections, social stigma and disrupted networks, as well as increases in poverty. The challenge for many countries is how to identify these children and ensure that focussed programmes are delivered effectively.

Africa
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More rigorous evidence necessary on role of peers in adolescent sexual behaviour

Is the sexual behaviour of young people in sub-Saharan Africa influenced by their peers? A systematic review.

Fearon E, Wiggins RD, Pettifor AE, Hargreaves JR. Soc Sci Med. 2015 Oct 9;146:62-74. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.09.039. [Epub ahead of print]

Adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa are highly vulnerable to HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. Evidence for the effectiveness of individual behaviour change interventions in reducing incidence of HIV and other biological outcomes is limited, and the need to address the social conditions in which young people become sexually active is clear. Adolescents' peers are a key aspect of this social environment and could have important influences on sexual behaviour. There has not yet been a systematic review on the topic in sub-Saharan Africa. We searched 4 databases to find studies set in sub-Saharan Africa that included an adjusted analysis of the association between at least one peer exposure and a sexual behaviour outcome among a sample where at least 50% of the study participants were aged between 13 and 20 years. We classified peer exposures using a framework to distinguish different mechanisms by which influence might occur. We found 30 studies and retained 11 that met quality criteria. There were 3 cohort studies, 1 time to event and 7 cross-sectional. The 11 studies investigated 37 different peer exposure-outcome associations. No studies used a biological outcome and all asked about peers in general rather than about specific relationships. Studies were heterogeneous in their use of theoretical frameworks and means of operationalizing peer influence concepts. All studies found evidence for an association between peers and sexual behaviour for at least one peer exposure/outcome/sub-group association. Of all 37 outcome/exposure/sub-group associations tested, there was evidence for 19 (51%). There were no clear patterns by type of peer exposure, outcome or adolescent sub-group. There is a lack of conclusive evidence about the role of peers in adolescent sexual behaviour in sub-Saharan Africa. We argue that longitudinal designs, use of biological outcomes and approaches from social network analysis are priorities for future studies.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: This is the first quantitative systematic review of the role of peers in shaping young people’s sexual behaviour in sub-Saharan Africa. Each of the 11 higher-quality studies included found evidence for at least one association between a peer exposure and a sexual behaviour outcome. But overall, no clear patterns were found for the conditions in which peer exposures might, or might not, impact sexual behaviour. The mixed findings may highlight inherent difficulties with assessing such associations, such as reverse causation in cross-sectional studies (e.g. selection of peers based on established sexual behaviour), and reliance on self-reported sexual behaviour (likely to be a particular problem among adolescents). One interesting aspect of the paper was the classification of peer exposures into one of six types (including peer approval, peer connectedness, and status within peer networks). Given the likely importance of peers in adolescent behaviour, methods that collect information about specific peers and relationships such as social network analysis, rather than asking about peers in general, could help to identify peer effects.

Africa
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AIDS and bacterial disease remain leading causes of hospital admission

Causes of hospital admission among people living with HIV worldwide: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Ford N, Shubber Z, Meintjes G, Grinsztejn B, Eholie S, Mills EJ, Davies MA, Vitoria M, Penazzato M, Nsanzimana S, Frigati L, O'Brien D, Ellman T, Ajose O, Calmy A, Doherty M. Lancet HIV. 2015 Oct;2(10):e438-44. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(15)00137-X. Epub 2015 Aug 11.

Background: Morbidity associated with HIV infection is poorly characterised, so we aimed to investigate the contribution of different comorbidities to hospital admission and in-hospital mortality in adults and children living with HIV worldwide.

Methods: Using a broad search strategy combining terms for hospital admission and HIV infection, we searched MEDLINE via PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, LILACS, AIM, IMEMR and WPIMR from inception to Jan 31, 2015, to identify studies reporting cause of hospital admission in people living with HIV. We focused on data reported after 2007, the period in which access to antiretroviral therapy started to become widespread. We estimated pooled proportions of hospital admissions and deaths per disease category by use of random-effects models. We stratified data by geographical region and age.

Findings: We obtained data from 106 cohorts, with reported causes of hospital admission for  313 006 adults and 6182 children living with HIV. For adults, AIDS-related illnesses (25 119 patients, 46%, 95% CI 40-53) and bacterial infections (14 034 patients, 31%, 20-42) were the leading causes of hospital admission. These two categories were the most common causes of hospital admission for adults in all geographical regions and the most common causes of mortality. Common region-specific causes of hospital admission included malnutrition and wasting, parasitic infections, and haematological disorders in the Africa region; respiratory disease, psychiatric disorders, renal disorders, cardiovascular disorders, and liver disease in Europe; haematological disorders in North America; and respiratory, neurological, digestive and liver-related conditions, viral infections, and drug toxicity in South and Central America. For children, AIDS-related illnesses (783 patients, 27%, 95% CI 19-34) and bacterial infections (1190 patients, 41%, 26-56) were the leading causes of hospital admission, followed by malnutrition and wasting, haematological disorders, and, in the African region, malaria. Mortality in individuals admitted to hospital was 20% (95% CI 18-23, 12 902 deaths) for adults and 14% (10-19, 643 deaths) for children.

Interpretation: This review shows the importance of prompt HIV diagnosis and treatment, and the need to reinforce existing recommendations to provide chemoprophylaxis and vaccination against major preventable infectious diseases to people living with HIV to reduce serious AIDS and non-AIDS morbidity.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: Despite the widening availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-associated disease remains an important cause of illness and death. In this systematic review the authors summarise published data concerning causes of hospital admission among HIV-positive people since 2007. This date was selected on the basis that access to ART was limited prior to 2007.

Overall the most common causes of admission among adults, across all geographical regions, were AIDS-associated illness and bacterial infections. Tuberculosis was the most common cause among adults, accounting for 18% of all admissions, followed by bacterial pneumonia (15%). Among children, similarly AIDS-associated illnesses (particularly tuberculosis and Pneumocystis pneumonia) and bacterial infections were the most common causes of admission. Among the 20% of adults who died during their admission, the most common causes of death were tuberculosis, bacterial infections, cerebral toxoplasmosis and cryptococcal meningitis. Among children the most common causes of death were tuberculosis, bacterial infections and Pneumocystis pneumonia. Tuberculosis is likely to have been underestimated in these studies. Autopsy studies consistently illustrate that around half of HIV-positive people who have tuberculosis identified at autopsy had not been diagnosed prior to death.

The review highlights that the majority of severe HIV-associated disease remains attributable to advanced immunosuppression. This is reflected by a median CD4 count at admission among adults of 168 cells per µl. Some 30% of people first tested HIV positive at the time of the admission. The review underlines the need to promote HIV testing so that HIV-positive people can access ART, and prevent the complications of advanced HIV disease. It also underscores the need for better coverage of screening for tuberculosis and preventive therapy for people without active disease.  

Avoid TB deaths
Comorbidity, Epidemiology
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Comparing strategies for HIV testing and counselling for children and adolescents

Uptake and yield of HIV testing and counselling among children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review.

Govindasamy D, Ferrand RA, Wilmore SM, Ford N, Ahmed S, Afnan-Holmes H, Kranzer K. J Int AIDS Soc. 2015 Oct 14;18(1):20182. doi: 10.7448/IAS.18.1.20182. eCollection 2015.

Introduction: In recent years children and adolescents have emerged as a priority for HIV prevention and care services. We conducted a systematic review to investigate the acceptability, yield and prevalence of HIV testing and counselling (HTC) strategies in children and adolescents (5 to 19 years) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: An electronic search was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health and conference abstract databases. Studies reporting on HTC acceptability, yield and prevalence and published between January 2004 and September 2014 were included. Pooled proportions for these three outcomes were estimated using a random effects model. A quality assessment was conducted on included studies.

Results and discussion: A total of 16 380 potential citations were identified, of which 21 studies (23 entries) were included. Most studies were conducted in Kenya (n=5) and Uganda (n=5) and judged to provide moderate (n=15) to low quality (n=7) evidence, with data not disaggregated by age. Seven studies reported on provider-initiated testing and counselling (PITC), with the remainder reporting on family-centred (n=5), home-based (n=5), outreach (n=5) and school-linked HTC among primary schoolchildren (n=1). PITC among inpatients had the highest acceptability (86.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 65.5 to 100%), yield (12.2%; 95% CI: 6.1 to 18.3%) and prevalence (15.4%; 95% CI: 5.0 to 25.7%). Family-centred HTC had lower acceptance compared to home-based HTC (51.7%; 95% CI: 10.4 to 92.9% vs. 84.9%; 95% CI: 74.4 to 95.4%) yet higher prevalence (8.4%; 95% CI: 3.4 to 13.5% vs. 3.0%; 95% CI: 1.0 to 4.9%). School-linked HTC showed poor acceptance and low prevalence.

Conclusions: While PITC may have high test acceptability priority should be given to evaluating strategies beyond healthcare settings (e.g. home-based HTC among families) to identify individuals earlier in their disease progression. Data on linkage to care and cost-effectiveness of HTC strategies are needed to strengthen policies.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: In sub-Saharan Africa children and adolescents are a priority group for HIV prevention and care services. Children and adolescents living with HIV are less likely than adults to know their HIV status, to access treatment and to achieve virologic suppression. As with adults, the first essential step to managing HIV in children and adolescents is to provide appropriate HIV testing and counselling services. This is the first systematic review to assess HIV testing and counselling strategies in this age group, 5-19 years. One key finding is the lack of data on testing and counselling services for this age group. Most services replicate strategies developed for adults with little consideration for the specific needs of children and adolescents. The studies illustrated that health care facility-based provider-initiated testing and counselling had relatively high acceptance, yield and linkage-to-care, but tended to identify individuals at a late stage of disease. In contrast, community-based approaches had the potential to diagnose asymptomatic children. Further work on innovative approaches, family-centred and mobile-based, should be assessed.  

HIV testing
Africa
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PEP is an unknown option for women at high risk in Nairobi

Barriers to the uptake of postexposure prophylaxis among Nairobi-based female sex workers.

Olsthoorn AV, Sivachandran N, Bogoch I, Kwantampora J, Kimani M, Kimani J, Kaul R. AIDS. 2015 Sep 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Introduction: Female sex workers (FSWs) in sub-Saharan Africa are at a particularly high risk for HIV infection. Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) is available as part of an HIV care and prevention program through dedicated FSW clinics in Nairobi, Kenya, but is underutilized. We evaluated PEP knowledge, access, and adherence among clinic attendees.

Methods: An anonymous questionnaire was administered to unselected HIV-uninfected FSWs. Participants were dichotomized into high and low HIV risk categories based on self-reported sexual practices, and prior PEP use, knowledge, and adherence were then evaluated.

Results: One hundred thirty-four HIV-uninfected FSWs participated, with 64 (48%) categorized as being at high risk for HIV acquisition. High-risk FSWs were less likely to have heard of or accessed PEP than lower risk FSWs (37.5 vs. 58.6%, P = 0.014; and 21.9 vs. 40.6%, P = 0.019, respectively). Among higher risk FSWs, those who had accessed PEP were more likely to report treatment for a genital infection (71.4 vs. 42.0%, P = 0.049) or sex with an HIV-infected man (62.5 vs. 37.5%, P = 0.042) during the last 6 months. However, only 35.7% of high-risk women accessing PEP completed a full course of treatment, and noncompleters were more likely to report prior unprotected sex with an HIV-infected man (P = 0.023).

Conclusion: Despite freely available PEP for Nairobi-based FSWs, women at highest risk were less likely to have heard of PEP, access PEP, or complete the full course of therapy once initiated. Program delivery needs to be improved to ensure that FSW most at risk are able to benefit from this resource.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: There is currently in the field a strong buzz around antiretroviral (ARV)-based prevention following the results from recently completed oral pre-exposure prophylaxis studies (PrEP). This excitement is also driven by the new guidelines from the World Health Organization which recommend immediate treatment of any individual testing HIV positive at any CD4 count and initiation of PrEP for individuals at substantially high risk for acquiring HIV. On the other hand, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), involving giving a one month supply of daily ARVs to someone recently exposed or suspected to be exposed to HIV, has been in existence for almost two decades.  Yet despite new WHO guidelines released in 2014 it struggles to be successfully implemented in instances of suspected sexual exposure. This paper presents a case illustrating how despite support from national policy and availability in clinics, women at high risk do not know about PEP and do not access it as they could. This study was able to correlate association of risk and the need to care for children with accessing and completing PEP regimens. This is a valuable insight into how messaging and education around PEP could be constructed. PEP could be a powerful tool in the ARV-based prevention tool box, and the broader combination prevention strategies in countries. However it is clear that efforts to improve access and uptake will need directed attention and excitement along with support for the other prevention options coming on to the market.

Africa
Kenya
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Condoms or PrEP? Women’s decision-making for the prevention of HIV-transmission in Kenya and South Africa

Motivations for reducing other HIV risk-reduction practices if taking pre-exposure prophylaxis: findings from a qualitative study among women in Kenya and South Africa.

Corneli A, Namey E, Ahmed K, Agot K, Skhosana J, Odhiambo J, Guest G. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2015 Sep;29(9):503-9. doi: 10.1089/apc.2015.0038. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Findings from a survey conducted among women at high risk for HIV in Bondo, Kenya, and Pretoria, South Africa, demonstrated that a substantial proportion would be inclined to reduce their use of other HIV risk-reduction practices if they were taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). To explore the motivations for their anticipated behavior change, we conducted qualitative interviews with 60 women whose survey responses suggested they would be more likely to reduce condom use or have sex with a new partner if they were taking PrEP compared to if they were not taking PrEP. Three interrelated themes were identified: (1) "PrEP protects"-PrEP was perceived as an effective HIV prevention method that replaced the need for condoms; (2) condoms were a source of conflict in relationships, and PrEP would provide an opportunity to resolve or avoid this conflict; and (3) having sex without a condom or having sex with a new partner was necessary for receiving material goods and financial assistance-PrEP would provide reassurance in these situations. Many believed that PrEP alone would be a sufficient HIV risk-reduction strategy. These findings suggest that participants' HIV risk-reduction intentions, if they were to use PrEP, were based predominately on their understanding of the high efficacy of PrEP and their experiences with the limitations of condoms. Enhanced counseling is needed to promote informed decision making and to ensure overall sexual health for women using PrEP for HIV prevention, particularly with respect to the prevention of pregnancy and other sexually transmitted infections when PrEP is used alone.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: New HIV-prevention methods and messages may be understood differently by different people. For example, the protection from HIV infection for men ‘at about 60%’ that is afforded by medical male circumcision is not always well understood. Some men assume higher protection levels. The authors of this paper describe women’s HIV-prevention method intentions, should pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) be available.  The study is of women’s intention, not actual behaviour, but the findings provide useful insights into the way in which prevention messages are interpreted. In this case, the new method is seen to offer an alternative to using condoms. The authors describe the reasons women give for not using condoms based on their belief that PrEP would protect them from infection. The authors suggest that counselling to inform women of the other benefits of condoms, beyond HIV-infection, is necessary where PrEP is introduced as a HIV-prevention method. This may be so, but underlying the reasons the women gave for not wanting to use condoms was inequitable relationships with their partners. The decision to use condoms often rests mainly with the man. While some women actively disliked condoms because of a reduction in sexual pleasure, many saw not using condoms as a way to sustain their relationship. The authors note that prevention strategies not only need to support women’s choices; but they also need to engage with women who lack choice.  

Africa
Kenya, South Africa
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Better integration of programmes against alcohol use necessary at every step of the HIV treatment cascade

The impact of alcohol use and related disorders on the HIV continuum of care: a systematic review: alcohol and the HIV continuum of care.

Vagenas P, Azar MM, Copenhaver MM, Springer SA, Molina PE, Altice FL. Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2015 Sep 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Alcohol use is highly prevalent globally with numerous negative consequences to human health, including HIV progression, in people living with HIV (PLH). The HIV continuum of care, or treatment cascade, represents a sequence of targets for intervention that can result in viral suppression, which ultimately benefits individuals and society. The extent to which alcohol impacts each step in the cascade, however, has not been systematically examined. International targets for HIV treatment as prevention aim for 90% of PLH to be diagnosed, 90% of them to be prescribed with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% to achieve viral suppression; currently, only 20% of PLH are virally suppressed. This systematic review, from 2010 through May 2015, found 53 clinical research papers examining the impact of alcohol use on each step of the HIV treatment cascade. These studies were mostly cross-sectional or cohort studies and from all income settings. Most (77 %) found a negative association between alcohol consumption on one or more stages of the treatment cascade. Lack of consistency in measurement, however, reduced the ability to draw consistent conclusions. Nonetheless, the strong negative correlations suggest that problematic alcohol consumption should be targeted, preferably using evidence-based behavioral and pharmacological interventions, to indirectly increase the proportion of PLH achieving viral suppression, to achieve treatment as prevention mandates, and to reduce HIV transmission.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: This systematic review examined the impact of alcohol consumption on each step of the HIV treatment cascade. This covered HIV diagnosis, linkage to care, retention in care, ART initiation and adherence, and sustained virologic suppression. Overall, there was an association between alcohol consumption and negative consequences on various steps of the treatment cascade. The majority of studies focused on the effect of alcohol use disorders and ART adherence, and on viral suppression. There was fairly consistent evidence of reduced adherence among people with alcohol use disorders. Key findings of this review include the lack of consistency in studies of alcohol consumption. Many studies are not using standardised, validated, measures such as the AUDIT, and there is the lack of studies on the association of alcohol use with earlier stages of the cascade, including testing uptake and linkage to care. Further studies in this area would be useful, to identify whether programmes focused on problematic alcohol use are necessary at HIV testing centres.

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Contraception for young girls living with HIV: barriers and facilitators to service provision in western Kenya

Barriers and facilitators adolescent females living with HIV face in accessing contraceptive services: a qualitative assessment of providers' perceptions in western Kenya.

Hagey JM, Akama E, Ayieko J, Bukusi EA, Cohen CR, Patel RC. J Int AIDS Soc. 2015 Sep 16;18(1):20123. doi: 10.7448/IAS.18.1.20123. eCollection 2015.

Introduction: Avoiding unintended pregnancies is important for the health of adolescents living with HIV and has the additional benefit of preventing potential vertical HIV transmission. Health facility providers represent an untapped resource in understanding the barriers and facilitators adolescents living with HIV face when accessing contraception. By understanding these barriers and facilitators to contraceptive use among adolescent females living with HIV, this study aimed to understand how best to promote contraception within this marginalized population.

Methods: We conducted structured in-depth interviews with 40 providers at 21 Family AIDS Care & Education Services - supported clinics in Homabay, Kisumu and Migori counties in western Kenya from July to August 2014. Our interview guide explored the providers' perspectives on contraceptive service provision to adolescent females living with HIV with the following specific domains: contraception screening and counselling, service provision, commodity security and clinic structure. Transcripts from the interviews were analyzed using inductive content analysis.

Results: According to providers, interpersonal factors dominated the barriers adolescent females living with HIV face in accessing contraception. Providers felt that adolescent females fear disclosing their sexual activity to parents, peers and providers, because of repercussions of perceived promiscuity. Furthermore, providers mentioned that adolescents find seeking contraceptive services without a male partner challenging, because some providers and community members view adolescents unaccompanied by their partners as not being serious about their relationships or having multiple concurrent relationships. On the other hand, providers noted that institutional factors best facilitated contraception for these adolescents. Integration of contraception and HIV care allows easier access to contraceptives by removing the stigma of coming to a clinic solely for contraceptive services. Youth-friendly services, including serving youth on days separate from adults, also create a more comfortable setting for adolescents seeking contraceptive services.

Conclusions: Providers at these facilities identified attitudes of equating seeking contraceptive services with promiscuity by parents, peers and providers as barriers preventing adolescent females living with HIV from accessing contraceptive services. Health facilities should provide services for adolescent females in a youth-friendly manner and integrate HIV and contraceptive services.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: The article offers a clear picture of barriers and facilitators to access and uptake of contraceptive services for young girls living with HIV. It provides valuable evidence of providers’ views regarding integrated HIV and contraceptive services. The study was carried out with HIV care providers in different areas of western Kenya. The authors found that young girls find it difficult to access services, especially on their own, for fear of being seen as sexually active and/or promiscuous. Parental presence during consultations in HIV services can be a barrier to requesting contraceptives. But some parents are supportive and wish to prevent unintended pregnancies for their daughters. Young girls living with HIV might find it challenging to manage questions from their peers about their HIV medication and contraceptives. Providers’ themselves prioritise abstinence and condoms over offering hormonal contraceptives. Providers can feel protective towards the patients, whom they may see as ‘children’. The authors suggest that further involvement of parents, young boys and male partners can facilitate uptake of contraceptives for young girls living with HIV. The integration of HIV and contraceptive services for young girls can provide a crucial platform to reduce sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies and vertical HIV transmission.

Africa
Kenya
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Antiretroviral therapy coverage associated with reduced HIV incidence in Kenya

Impact of community antiretroviral therapy coverage on HIV incidence in Kenyan female sex workers: a 15-year prospective cohort study.

McClelland RS, Richardson BA, Cherutich P, Mandaliya K, John-Stewart G, Miregwa B, Odem-Davis K, Jaoko W, Kimanga D, Overbaugh J. AIDS. 2015 Jul 31. [Epub ahead of print]

Objective: To test the hypothesis that increasing community antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage would be associated with lower HIV incidence in female sex workers (FSWs) in Mombasa District, Kenya.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Methods: From 1998 to 2012, HIV-negative FSWs were asked to return monthly for an interview regarding risk behavior and testing for sexually transmitted infections including HIV. We evaluated the association between community ART coverage and FSW's risk of becoming HIV infected using Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for potential confounding factors.

Results: One thousand four hundred four FSWs contributed 4335 woman-years of follow-up, with 145 acquiring HIV infection (incidence 3.35/100 woman-years). The ART rollout began in 2003. By 2012, an estimated 52% of HIV-positive individuals were receiving treatment. Community ART coverage was inversely associated with HIV incidence (adjusted hazard ratio 0.77; 95% confidence interval 0.61-0.98; P = 0.03), suggesting that each 10% increase in coverage was associated with a 23% reduction in FSWs' risk of HIV acquisition. Community ART coverage had no impact on herpes simplex virus type-2 incidence (adjusted hazard ratio 0.97; 95% confidence interval 0.79-1.20; P = 0.8).

Conclusion: Increasing general population ART coverage was associated with lower HIV incidence in FSWs. The association with HIV incidence, but not herpes simplex virus type-2 incidence, suggests that the effect of community ART coverage may be specific to HIV. Interventions such as preexposure prophylaxis and antiretroviral-containing microbicides have produced disappointing results in HIV prevention trials with FSWs. These results suggest that FSWs' risk of acquiring HIV infection might be reduced through the indirect approach of increasing ART coverage in the community.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: The individual-level benefit of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on reducing HIV transmission between serodiscordant partners is established, but less is known about a possible population-level effect of ART on key populations such as female sex workers. In this study of 1404 initially HIV-negative female sex workers in Mombasa, Kenya, increased community ART coverage was strongly associated with reduced HIV incidence. HIV incidence was 23% lower for every 10% increase in ART coverage, after adjusting for HIV prevalence and participants’ behavioural characteristics. However, the authors note that HIV incidence was already declining prior to the introduction of ART (from 11.4 cases/100 woman-years in 1998 to 7.6/100 woman-years in 2002), due to other factors including changes in risk behaviour and HIV-prevention efforts in the community. Despite this, the present study suggests that in the setting of ongoing high-quality HIV prevention services, the risk of HIV acquisition among female sex workers is likely to be reduced by increasing ART coverage in the community. Moves to increase coverage of ART in the community will potentially have a substantial HIV prevention benefit on this key population.

Africa
Kenya
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Patient support networks may improve long-term engagement in HIV care

Implementation and operational research: pulling the network together: quasiexperimental trial of a patient-defined support network intervention for promoting engagement in HIV care and medication adherence on Mfangano Island, Kenya.

Hickey MD, Salmen CR, Omollo D, Mattah B, Fiorella KJ, Geng EH, Bacchetti P, Blat C, Ouma GB, Zoughbie D, Tessler RA, Salmen MR, Campbell H, Gandhi M, Shade S, Njoroge B, Bukusi EA, Cohen CR. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Aug 1;69(4):e127-34. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000664.

Background: Despite progress in the global scale-up of antiretroviral therapy, sustained engagement in HIV care remains challenging. Social capital is an important factor for sustained engagement, but interventions designed to harness this powerful social force are uncommon.

Methods: We conducted a quasiexperimental study evaluating the impact of the Microclinic Social Network intervention on engagement in HIV care and medication adherence on Mfangano Island, Kenya. The intervention was introduced into 1 of 4 similar communities served by this clinic; comparisons were made between communities using an intention-to-treat analysis. Microclinics, composed of patient-defined support networks, participated in 10 biweekly discussion sessions covering topics ranging from HIV biology to group support and group HIV status disclosure. Nevirapine concentrations in hair were measured before and after study.

Results: One hundred thirteen (74%) intervention community participants joined a microclinic group, 86% of whom participated in group HIV status disclosure. Over 22-month follow-up, intervention community participants experienced one-half the rate of ≥ 90-day clinic absence as those in control communities (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.48; 95% confidence interval: 0.25 to 0.92). Nevirapine hair levels declined in both study arms; in adjusted linear regression analysis, the decline was 6.7 ng/mg less severe in the intervention arm than control arm (95% confidence interval: -2.7 to 16.1).

Conclusions: The microclinic intervention is a promising and feasible community-based strategy to improve long-term engagement in HIV care and possibly medication adherence. Reducing treatment interruptions using a social network approach has important implications for individual patient virologic suppression, morbidity, and mortality and for broader community empowerment and engagement in healthcare.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: To maximise the impact of ART, people living with HIV should be diagnosed early, enrolled and retained in pre-ART care, initiated on ART and retained in ART care. Long-term adherence to achieve and maintain viral load suppression is the last step in the continuum of HIV care. Engagement along the complete treatment cascade will determine the long-term success of the global response to HIV.

This article reports on the results of a quasi-experimental study that assessed whether a combined stigma reduction and social network empowerment programme resulted in improved HIV treatment outcomes. The programme consisted of an adaptation of a social network-based activity known as ‘microclinics’. ‘Microclinics’ are informal social networks empowered to support chronic disease management and prevention. ‘Microclinic’ groups consisted of five to ten close family, friends or other members of the patient’s social support system, irrespective of the member’s HIV status. ‘Microclinics’ were assigned a Community Health Worker coordinator and facilitator and were guided through a series of ten discussion sessions over a period of five months. During these sessions they received health education messages to promote knowledge of HIV prevention and treatment, and group support was promoted through discussion of confidentiality, HIV status disclosure, and encouragement of group support for adherence and clinic attendance. The programme was introduced into one of four similar communities served by the main study clinic, and comparisons were made between communities. The outcomes were engagement in HIV care and medication adherence. 

Three-quarters of participants in the programme community joined a ‘microclinic’. Participants in the programme community spent a larger proportion of time adherent to clinic schedules. On average, during a year of follow-up, compared to people in the control group, people in the ‘microclinics’ group returned to care three weeks sooner after a missed visit. Work by Ware et al. describes a pathway from missing a clinic visit to disengaging from care. The pathway includes as intermediate steps, developing a reluctance to return, and subsequent feelings of decreased connectedness to care. The authors of this study hypothesise that ‘microclinic’ participation prevented the development of ‘reluctance to return’ after a missed visit.

The authors conclude that there is empiric support for ‘microclinics’ as an effective model for chronic disease management. But, given the quasi-experimental design, other factors may have contributed to improved outcomes. Data from longer term follow up would be useful to determine the durability of the programme effect, since study participants were only followed up for 22 months. 

Africa
Kenya
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