Articles tagged as "Asia"

HPV prevalent in a key population in India – potential for vaccination

Prevalence of anal HPV infection among HIV-positive men who have sex with men in India.

Hernandez AL, Karthik R, Sivasubramanian M, Raghavendran A, Gnanamony M, Lensing S, Lee JY, Kannangai R, Abraham P, Mathai D, Palefsky JM. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 Apr 1;71(4):437-43. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000855.

Background: India has a large population of HIV-positive individuals, including men who have sex with men (MSM), and the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers is high. In developed countries, HIV-positive MSM exhibit the highest prevalence of anal HPV infection and incidence of anal cancer. Little is known about anal HPV infection in HIV-positive Indian MSM.

Methods: We evaluated 300 HIV-positive MSM from 2 cities in India. Men were tested for anal HPV infection using L1-HPV DNA polymerase chain reaction with probes specific for 29 types and a mixture of 10 additional types. CD4 level and plasma HIV viral load were measured. Participants completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire including a sexual history.

Results: The prevalence of anal HPV was 95% (95% confidence interval: 91% to 97%). The 3 most common types were HPV 35 (20%), HPV 16 (13%), and HPV 6/11 (13%). History of taking antiretroviral medications decreased risk of anal HPV 16 infection [relative risk (RR): 0.6 (0.4-1.0)]. Having an increased number of vaginal sex partners lowered risk of any anal HPV infection. Ever having receptive sex increased risk of any anal HPV [RR: 1.2 (1.1-1.4)] and anal HPV 16 [RR: 6.5 (1.8-107)].

Conclusions: Almost all Indian HIV-positive MSM had anal HPV infection. The prevalence of HPV 16 was lower and the prevalence of other oncogenic HPV types was higher than in similar populations in North America and Europe. Vaccine-based prevention strategies for HPV infection in India should consider potential differences in HPV type distribution among HIV-infected MSM when designing interventions.

Abstract access  

Editor’s notes: This is the first report of anal human papilloma virus (HPV) prevalence and associated risk factors among HIV-positive gay men and other men who have sex with men in India. The incidence of HPV-associated anogenital disease is high in Indian men and women. Given that Indian men who are HIV-positive have an increased risk of anal cancer compared to HIV negative men, data on HPV infection in this population is warranted.

The authors report a high prevalence of any HPV type (95%) and any oncogenic HPV type (49%), similar to reports among other HIV-positive gay men and other men who have sex with men in northern America and Europe. An important distinction within this cohort is that many of these men self-identify as bisexual. Just under half (47%) reported being married and two-thirds (62%) reported having at least one female sex partner in their lifetime. This finding has important implications for HPV transmission between gay men and other men who have sex with men and female partners, given the high HPV prevalence in this population. HPV vaccination of key populations has the potential to reduce this transmission.

HPV vaccination in HIV-negative men and women with evidence of prior infection has been shown to confer protection against infection from other HPV types. Men in this cohort had an average of 1.7 oncogenic HPV infections, and so a broader spectrum vaccine such as the 9-valent vaccine which targets seven of the oncogenic HPV types (16/18/31/33/45/52/58) could still protect against acquisition of other vaccine types. Notably, the most common oncogenic type detected was HPV35 which, although not targeted by any of the currently available vaccines, is implicated in cervical cancer. While HPV16 and 18 are the types most commonly found in anal cancer in the general population and in cervical cancer among HIV-positive and negative women, little is known about the association of HPV types with anal disease in people living with HIV. Additional studies are necessary to firstly determine the incidence of anal cancer among HIV-positive gay men and other men who have sex with men in India, and secondly to evaluate which HPV types are linked to anal disease in order to estimate the fraction of disease that could be prevented through vaccination. Further, HPV vaccination of gay men and other men who have sex with men in India could confer additional protection to their female partners through a reduction in transmission of oncogenic HPV types, resulting in a consequent reduction in cervical disease attributed to these HPV types.   

Comorbidity, Epidemiology
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Profound effect of ART on mortality through reduction of opportunistic infections

Incidence of opportunistic infections and the impact of antiretroviral therapy among HIV-infected adults in low and middle income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 

Low A, Gavriilidis G, Larke N, Lajoie MR, Drouin O, Stover J, Muhe L, Easterbrook P. Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Mar 6. pii: ciw125. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: To understand regional burdens and inform delivery of health services, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on incidence of key opportunistic infections (OIs) in HIV-infected adults in low and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Methods: Eligible studies describing the cumulative incidence of OIs and proportion on ART from 1990 to November 2013 were identified using multiple databases. Summary incident risks for the ART-naive period, and during and after the first year of ART, were calculated using random effects meta-analyses. Summary estimates from ART subgroups were compared using meta-regression. The number of OI cases and associated costs averted if ART was initiated at CD4 ≥200 cells/µl was estimated using UNAIDS country estimates and global average OI treatment cost per case.

Results: We identified 7965 citations, and included 126 studies describing 491 608 HIV-infected persons. In ART-naive patients, summary risk was highest (>5%) for oral candidiasis, tuberculosis, herpes zoster, and bacterial pneumonia. The reduction in incidence was greatest for all OIs during the first 12 months of ART (range 57-91%) except for tuberculosis, and was largest for oral candidiasis, PCP and toxoplasmosis. Earlier ART was estimated to have averted 857 828 cases in 2013 (95% confidence interval [CI], 828 032-874 853), with cost savings of $46.7 million (95% CI, 43.8-49.4).

Conclusions: There was a major reduction in risk for most OIs with ART use in LMICs, with the greatest effect seen in the first year of treatment. ART has resulted in substantial cost savings from OIs averted.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: Opportunistic infections (OIs) remain the major cause of HIV-associated mortality. OIs account for substantially higher mortality in low and middle income countries (LMICs) compared to high income countries (HICs).

This paper describes the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis including about 500 000 people on ART in LMICs across three regions (sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America). These large numbers enabled the investigators to look at the effect of ART on the incidence of key OIs during and after the first year of treatment.

Not surprisingly they found that the effect of ART reduced the risk of all OIs during the first year after ART initiation, although the reduction was less for tuberculosis. The authors attribute this to the occurrence of tuberculosis across a wide range of CD4 cell counts, a smaller effect of early immune restoration and the contribution of TB as a manifestation of immune reconstitution syndrome during the first months after ART initiation. Beyond one year after ART initiation, the reduction in tuberculosis was greater.

They conclude that the effect of ART on the incidence of most HIV-associated OIs is the key reason for the global decline in HIV-associated mortality. However, a significant proportion of HIV-positive persons still continue to present with advanced disease. Besides timely ART initiation, additional measures such as CTX prophylaxis, screening for TB and cryptococcal disease, and the use of isoniazid and fluconazole prophylaxis should be considered for late presenters. 

Africa, Asia, Latin America
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Substantial drop in opportunistic infections in children with ART

Incidence and prevalence of opportunistic and other infections and the impact of antiretroviral therapy among HIV-infected children in low and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 

B-Lajoie MR, Drouin O, Bartlett G, Nguyen Q, Low A, Gavriilidis G, Easterbrook P, Muhe L. Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Mar 21. pii: ciw139. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the incidence and prevalence of 14 opportunistic infections (OIs) and other infections as well as the impact of antiretroviral therapy (ART) among HIV-infected children (<18 years) in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), to understand regional burden of disease, and inform delivery of HIV services.

Methods: Eligible studies described the incidence of OIs and other infections in ART-naive and exposed children from January 1990 to November 2013, using Medline, Global Health, Embase, Cinahl, Web of Knowledge and Lilacs databases. Summary incident risk and prevalent risk for each OI in ART-naive and ART-exposed children were calculated, and unadjusted odds ratios calculated for impact of ART. The number of OI cases and associated costs averted were estimated using the AIM model.

Results: We identified 4542 citations, and 88 studies were included, comprising 55 679 HIV-infected children. Bacterial pneumonia and tuberculosis were the most common incident and prevalent infections in both ART-naive and ART-exposed children. There was a significant reduction in incident risk with ART for the majority of OIs. There was a smaller impact on bacterial sepsis and pneumonia, and an increase observed for varicella zoster. ART initiation based on 2010 WHO guidelines criteria for ART initiation in children was estimated to potentially avert more than 161 000 OIs (2013 UNAIDS data) with estimated cost savings of at least USD $17 million per year.

Conclusion: There is a substantial decrease in the risk of most OIs with ART use in HIV-infected children in LMIC, and estimated large potential cost savings in OIs averted with ART use, although there are greater limitations in paediatric data compared to adults.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: The scale-up of programmes to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission has resulted in a 60% decline in paediatric HIV infections. The scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART), however, has been less successful in children, with only a third of eligible children aged under 15 years receiving ART as of 2014. In high-income countries, there has been a substantial decrease in the incidence of most opportunistic infections (OIs) following the introduction of ART. The impact of ART on burden of OIs in low and middle income countries (LMICs) is much less well-understood.

This meta-analysis estimated the incidence and prevalence of 14 key OIs and other infections in children (aged 0-18 years) before and after the introduction of ART across three geographical regions, namely sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia.

The use of ART has resulted in a decline in incidence of all but three infections, namely tuberculosis, pneumonia and candidiasis. These remain the most common incident and prevalent infections in ART-naïve and ART-exposed children. It is important to note that there is a high incidence of lower respiratory infections in children in LMIC regardless of HIV status.

There is a paucity of well-described or large studies in children compared to in adults. There was significant heterogeneity in the studies included in the review, and few studies reported important confounding factors such as use of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis, age at ART initiation and CD4 count. Also, regional differences could not be examined due to a limited number of studies in Latin America and Asia.

Notwithstanding these limitations, ART has resulted in a substantial cost-saving due to the numbers of OIs averted by use of ART. The 2015 WHO guidelines now recommend ART initiation in all children and this is likely to have an even larger impact on the incidence of OIs and mortality. Along with this, strategies to reduce the burden of TB and pneumonia in children are urgently needed.

Comorbidity, HIV Treatment
Africa, Asia, Latin America
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Mobility, migration, and HIV: not always what you assume

The Silk Road health project: how mobility and migration status influence HIV risks among male migrant workers in central Asia. 

El-Bassel N, Gilbert L, Shaw SA, Mergenova G, Terlikbayeva A, Primbetova S, Ma X, Chang M, Ismayilova L, Hunt T, West B, Wu E, Beyrer C. PLoS One. 2016 Mar 11;11(3):e0151278. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151278. eCollection 2016.

Objectives: We examined whether mobility, migrant status, and risk environments are associated with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV risk behaviors (e.g. sex trading, multiple partners, and unprotected sex).

Methods: We used Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) to recruit external male migrant market vendors from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan as well internal migrant and non-migrant market vendors from Kazakhstan. We conducted multivariate logistic regressions to examine the effects of mobility combined with the interaction between mobility and migration status on STIs and sexual risk behaviors, when controlling for risk environment characteristics.

Results: Mobility was associated with increased risk for biologically-confirmed STIs, sex trading, and unprotected sex among non-migrants, but not among internal or external migrants. Condom use rates were low among all three groups, particularly external migrants. Risk environment factors of low-income status, debt, homelessness, and limited access to medical care were associated with unprotected sex among external migrants.

Conclusion: Study findings underscore the role mobility and risk environments play in shaping HIV/STI risks. They highlight the need to consider mobility in the context of migration status and other risk environment factors in developing effective prevention strategies for this population.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: The 14 participants selected as seeds in this respondent driven sampling (RDS) strategy generated two large chains that made up 90% of the recruited study sample of 1324 male labour market workers at the Baraholka Market in Almaty, Kazakhstan. An estimated one million labour migrants enter Kazakhstan each year from neighbouring Central Asian countries that lack employment opportunities. However they face stigma, discrimination, police harassment, and lack of access to services. Finding out whether they are resilient to risk of exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or are more likely to acquire HIV/STIs is key to designing effective HIV prevention strategies in a country that saw HIV incidence rise 25% between 2001 and 2009. This study looked at associations between HIV and STI risk and mobility – defined as having travelled outside Almaty in the last 90 days. The study was among three groups at the market: external migrants, internal migrants, and non-migrants. The analysis adjusted for both sociodemographic and-structural risk environment factors (legal status, income, debt, policing, homelessness, loneliness, social support, access to medical care, and alcohol use). Overall, 5.2% were positive for any STI. These included 2.1% of external migrants, 7.5% of internal migrants, and 8.8% of non-migrants. The authors hypothesise that mobility was not associated with increased STIs and a range of risk behaviours in external and internal migrants because these men travel primarily to visit their families and because they are goal-oriented and focused on fulfilling their roles as major wage earners for their families. These findings are in contrast to those of other studies that suggest that migrants are at higher HIV risk and challenge perceptions of migrants as a source of disease transmission within host countries. They underscore the importance of prevention strategies in unique venues such as markets, including peer-led prevention messaging, mobile clinics, and confidential HIV/STI testing. However, to address the factors that put migrants at risk for HIV, the authors argue for labour agreements, a legal registration process, and other measures to sustain their rights, prevent violence against migrants, and reduce marginalisation. 

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Programme planning must take into account diversity of sex worker populations - Pakistan

Heterogeneity among sex workers in overlapping HIV risk interactions with people who inject drugs: a cross-sectional study from 8 major cities in Pakistan. 

Melesse DY, Shafer LA, Shaw SY, Thompson LH, Achakzai BK, Furqan S, Reza T, Emmanuel F, Blanchard JF. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Mar;95(12):e3085. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000003085.

Concerns remain regarding the heterogeneity in overlapping human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk behaviors among sex workers (SWs) in Pakistan; specifically, the degree to which SWs interact with people who inject drugs (PWID) through sex and/or needle sharing. Following an in-depth mapping performed in 2011 to determine the size and distribution of key populations at highest risk of HIV acquisition in Pakistan, a cross-sectional biological and behavioral survey was conducted among PWID, female (FSWs), male (MSWs), and hijra/transgender (HSWs) sex workers, and data from 8 major cities were used for analyses. Logistic regression was used to identify factors, including city of residence and mode of SW-client solicitation, contributing to the overlapping risks of drug injection and sexual interaction with PWID. The study comprised 8483 SWs (34.5% FSWs, 32.4% HSWs, and 33.1% MSWs). Among SWs who had sex with PWID, HSWs were 2.61 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.19-5.74) and 1.99 (95% CI, 0.94-4.22) times more likely to inject drugs than MSWs and FSWs, respectively. There was up to a 3-fold difference in drug injecting probability, dependent on where and/or how the SW solicited clients. Compared with SWs in Larkana, the highest likelihood of drug injection use was among SWs in Multan (OR = 4.52; 95% CI: 3.27-6.26), followed by those in Lahore, Quetta, and Faisalabad. Heterogeneity exists in the overlapping patterns of HIV risk behaviors of SWs. The risk of drug injection among SWs also varies by city. Some means of sexual client solicitation may be along the pathway to overlapping HIV risk vulnerability due to increased likelihood of drug injection among SWs. There is a need to closely monitor the mixing patterns between SWs and PWID and underlying structural factors, such as means of sexual client solicitation, that mediate HIV risk, and implement prevention programs customized to local sub-epidemics.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access

Editor’s notes: This is an important paper reporting findings of an HIV prevalence and risk behaviour survey among sex workers and people who inject drugs. The paper describes the diversity of sex work, including male and transgender sex workers that are often neglected in research and service planning. It also examines injecting drug use among sex workers, a behaviour that can increase sex workers’ vulnerability to HIV, violence and other health harms. The finding that among sex workers who had a sex partner who also injected drugs, transgender sex workers had higher odds of injecting than male or female sex workers is important. This finding highlights the differences in vulnerability among the three sex worker populations, whose diversity is often not taken into account in programme planning. Other international evidence suggests increased stigma experienced by transgender sex workers on account of their gender. For example, with increased arrest and harassment administered by police and higher levels of poor emotional health. These are factors that might explain use of injecting drugs as a coping strategy. The study illustrates a clear need to target harm reduction services among this population, to ensure they have access to needle-syringe programmes.  Advice on safe injecting practices and how to manage injecting drug use alongside sex work are also necessary. Findings also clearly illustrate the need to understand better the underlying determinants of drug use and address those. Understanding why prevalence of drug use varies by city is vital. So too, is understanding how the way in which clients are engaged increases risk of injecting, in order to create enabling environments to minimise harms associated with injecting. 

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Empirical TB treatment no better than isoniazid among people with low CD4 counts and negative TB tests

Empirical tuberculosis therapy versus isoniazid in adult outpatients with advanced HIV initiating antiretroviral therapy (REMEMBER): a multicountry open-label randomised controlled trial. 

Hosseinipour MC, Bisson GP, Miyahara S, Sun X, Moses A, Riviere C, Kirui FK, Badal-Faesen S, Lagat D, Nyirenda M, Naidoo K, Hakim J, Mugyenyi P, Henostroza G, Leger PD, Lama JR, Mohapi L, Alave J, Mave V, Veloso VG, Pillay S, Kumarasamy N, Bao J, Hogg E, Jones L, Zolopa A, Kumwenda J, Gupta A, Adult ACTGAST. Lancet. 2016 Mar 19;387(10024):1198-209. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00546-8.

Background: Mortality within the first 6 months after initiating antiretroviral therapy is common in resource-limited settings and is often due to tuberculosis in patients with advanced HIV disease. Isoniazid preventive therapy is recommended in HIV-positive adults, but subclinical tuberculosis can be difficult to diagnose. We aimed to assess whether empirical tuberculosis treatment would reduce early mortality compared with isoniazid preventive therapy in high-burden settings.

Methods: We did a multicountry open-label randomised clinical trial comparing empirical tuberculosis therapy with isoniazid preventive therapy in HIV-positive outpatients initiating antiretroviral therapy with CD4 cell counts of less than 50 cells per µL. Participants were recruited from 18 outpatient research clinics in ten countries (Malawi, South Africa, Haiti, Kenya, Zambia, India, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Peru, and Uganda). Individuals were screened for tuberculosis using a symptom screen, locally available diagnostics, and the GeneXpert® MTB/RIF assay when available before inclusion. Study candidates with confirmed or suspected tuberculosis were excluded. Inclusion criteria were liver function tests 2.5 times the upper limit of normal or less, a creatinine clearance of at least 30 mL/min, and a Karnofsky score of at least 30. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) to either the empirical group (antiretroviral therapy and empirical tuberculosis therapy) or the isoniazid preventive therapy group (antiretroviral therapy and isoniazid preventive therapy). The primary endpoint was survival (death or unknown status) at 24 weeks after randomisation assessed in the intention-to-treat population. Kaplan-Meier estimates of the primary endpoint across groups were compared by the z-test. All participants were included in the safety analysis of antiretroviral therapy and tuberculosis treatment. This trial is registered with, number NCT01380080.

Findings: Between Oct 31, 2011, and June 9, 2014, we enrolled 850 participants. Of these, we randomly assigned 424 to receive empirical tuberculosis therapy and 426 to the isoniazid preventive therapy group. The median CD4 cell count at baseline was 18 cells per µL (IQR 9-32). At week 24, 22 (5%) participants from each group died or were of unknown status (95% CI 3.5-7.8) for empirical group and for isoniazid preventive therapy (95% CI 3.4-7.8); absolute risk difference of -0.06% (95% CI -3.05 to 2.94). Grade 3 or 4 signs or symptoms occurred in 50 (12%) participants in the empirical group and 46 (11%) participants in the isoniazid preventive therapy group. Grade 3 or 4 laboratory abnormalities occurred in 99 (23%) participants in the empirical group and 97 (23%) participants in the isoniazid preventive therapy group.

Interpretation: Empirical tuberculosis therapy did not reduce mortality at 24 weeks compared with isoniazid preventive therapy in outpatient adults with advanced HIV disease initiating antiretroviral therapy. The low mortality rate of the trial supports implementation of systematic tuberculosis screening and isoniazid preventive therapy in outpatients with advanced HIV disease.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: Tuberculosis (TB) remains the leading cause of death among HIV-positive people worldwide. Existing diagnostic tests for TB lack sensitivity, particularly among HIV-positive people, and autopsy studies consistently illustrate that TB is common at death, but often not identified prior to death. This has led to questions about whether empirical TB treatment, meaning treatment for TB in the absence of bacteriological confirmation, should be more widely used among HIV-positive people.

This trial compared empirical TB treatment to isoniazid preventive therapy among adult outpatients with very low CD4 counts starting antiretroviral therapy (ART). People could be enrolled in the study if they did not have confirmed or suspected TB based on symptoms, locally-accessible diagnostic tests (including chest radiography and sputum smear) and, when available, testing with Xpert® MTB/RIF. There was no difference in mortality at six months between participants given empirical TB treatment compared to isoniazid preventive therapy. Mortality was remarkably low overall, particularly considering that participants had very low CD4 counts. It seems likely that the enrolment criteria excluded people at highest risk of death from participating in the study.

Screening for TB at the time of starting ART could reduce mortality if the tests are sufficiently sensitive, and if people identified to have TB receive effective treatment. However, this study was not designed to address how best to do this in resource-limited settings, where chest radiography and Xpert® MTB/RIF are often not accessible. This study does suggest that isoniazid preventive therapy can be given at the time of ART initiation among people who have been effectively screened for TB. The results of other studies of empirical TB treatment, with different designs in different populations, are awaited. Data from all these studies together may provide evidence to guide the optimal package of care for people presenting with advanced HIV disease. 

Comorbidity, HIV Treatment
Africa, Asia, Latin America
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Shorter treatment for latent TB infection?

Three months of weekly rifapentine plus isoniazid for treatment of M. tuberculosis infection in HIV co-infected persons. 

Sterling TR, Scott NA, Miro JM, Calvet G, La Rosa A, Infante R, Chen MP, Benator DA, Gordin F, Benson CA, Chaisson RE, Villarino ME, Tuberculosis Trials Consortium, the AIDS Clinical Trials Group for the PREVENT TB Trial (TBTC Study 26 ACTG 5259). AIDS. 2016 Mar 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Objective: Compare the effectiveness, tolerability, and safety of three months of weekly rifapentine plus isoniazid under direct observation (3HP) vs. 9 months of daily isoniazid (9H) in HIV-infected persons.

Design: prospective, randomized, open-label non-inferiority trial.

Setting: U.S., Brazil, Spain, Peru, Canada, and Hong Kong.

Participants: HIV-infected persons who were tuberculin skin test positive or close contacts of tuberculosis cases.

Intervention: 3HP vs. 9H.

Main outcome measures: The effectiveness endpoint was tuberculosis; the non-inferiority margin was 0.75%. The tolerability endpoint was treatment completion; the safety endpoint was drug discontinuation due to adverse drug reaction.

Results: Median baseline CD4+ counts were 495 (IQR: 389-675) and 538 (IQR: 418-729) cells/mm3 in the 3HP and 9H arms, respectively (P = 0.09). In the modified intention to treat analysis, there were two tuberculosis cases among 206 persons (517 person-years (p-y) of follow-up) in the 3HP arm (0.39 per 100 p-y) and six tuberculosis cases among 193 persons (481 p-y of follow-up) in the 9H arm (1.25 per 100 p-y). Cumulative tuberculosis rates were 1.01% vs. 3.50% in the 3HP and 9H arms, respectively (rate difference: -2.49%; upper bound of the 95% confidence interval (CI) of the difference: 0.60%). Treatment completion was higher with 3HP (89%) than 9H (64%) (P < 0.001), and drug discontinuation due to an adverse drug reaction was similar (3% vs. 4%; P = 0.79) in 3HP and 9H, respectively.

Conclusions: Among HIV-infected persons with median CD4+ count of approximately 500 cells/mm3, 3HP was as effective and safe for treatment of latent M. tuberculosis infection as 9H, and better tolerated.

Abstract access 

Editor’s notes: People with HIV are at higher risk of reactivation of latent tuberculosis (TB). The standard treatment for latent TB, with six to nine months of daily isoniazid, is effective, but treatment completion rates are typically low, and implementation has been poor. Shorter, effective regimens to treat latent TB are therefore necessary, and rifapentine and isoniazid, given weekly for 12 weeks, is one such candidate regimen. The analysis reported in this paper is a sub-study of a larger trial which was reported in 2011 (Sterling et al, NEJM 2011;365:2155). The main trial was open to people regardless of HIV status, but few HIV-positive people were enrolled. Trial enrolment was therefore continued for HIV-positive people, and this paper reports outcomes among this group.

Although the number of tuberculosis events was very small in this sub-study (two versus six people developed tuberculosis in the rifapentine-isoniazid versus isoniazid only arms), the rifapentine-isoniazid regimen, given directly-observed, was non-inferior to self-administered isoniazid, similar to the results of the main trial. Treatment completion was substantially better with the rifapentine-isoniazid regimen, as expected for a shorter regimen given under direct observation. The rifapentine-isoniazid regimen was equally well-tolerated to the isoniazid-only regimen.

This study provides evidence that rifapentine-isoniazid has potential as an alternative to isoniazid for the treatment of latent tuberculosis among HIV-positive people. Several questions remain. Weekly directly-observed therapy could be difficult to implement in resource-limited settings, especially if people are required to travel to health centres to receive their weekly dose, and the effectiveness of this regimen is uncertain when self-administered. The weekly dose represents a substantial pill burden unless combination tablets are available, and there are potential drug interactions between rifapentine and some antiretroviral agents. Further research is necessary to establish whether, in settings where the risk of tuberculosis reinfection is high, a single 12-week course of rifapentine-isoniazid has a long-lasting effect.

Comorbidity, HIV Treatment
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Tenofovir resistance – need for caution but not panic

Global epidemiology of drug resistance after failure of WHO recommended first-line regimens for adult HIV-1 infection: a multicentre retrospective cohort study.

TenoRes Study Group. Lancet Infect Dis. 2016 Jan 28. pii: S1473-3099(15)00536-8. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(15)00536-8. [Epub ahead of print]

Background: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is crucial for controlling HIV-1 infection through wide-scale treatment as prevention and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Potent tenofovir disoproxil fumarate-containing regimens are increasingly used to treat and prevent HIV, although few data exist for frequency and risk factors of acquired drug resistance in regions hardest hit by the HIV pandemic. We aimed to do a global assessment of drug resistance after virological failure with first-line tenofovir-containing ART.

Methods: The TenoRes collaboration comprises adult HIV treatment cohorts and clinical trials of HIV drug resistance testing in Europe, Latin and North America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. We extracted and harmonised data for patients undergoing genotypic resistance testing after virological failure with a first-line regimen containing tenofovir plus a cytosine analogue (lamivudine or emtricitabine) plus a non-nucleotide reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI; efavirenz or nevirapine). We used an individual participant-level meta-analysis and multiple logistic regression to identify covariates associated with drug resistance. Our primary outcome was tenofovir resistance, defined as presence of K65R/N or K70E/G/Q mutations in the reverse transcriptase (RT) gene.

Findings: We included 1926 patients from 36 countries with treatment failure between 1998 and 2015. Prevalence of tenofovir resistance was highest in sub-Saharan Africa (370/654 [57%]). Pre-ART CD4 cell count was the covariate most strongly associated with the development of tenofovir resistance (odds ratio [OR] 1.50, 95% CI 1.27-1.77 for CD4 cell count <100 cells per µL). Use of lamivudine versus emtricitabine increased the risk of tenofovir resistance across regions (OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.20-1.82). Of 700 individuals with tenofovir resistance, 578 (83%) had cytosine analogue resistance (M184V/I mutation), 543 (78%) had major NNRTI resistance, and 457 (65%) had both. The mean plasma viral load at virological failure was similar in individuals with and without tenofovir resistance (145 700 copies per mL [SE 12 480] versus 133 900 copies per mL [SE 16 650; p=0.626]).

Interpretation: We recorded drug resistance in a high proportion of patients after virological failure on a tenofovir-containing first-line regimen across low-income and middle-income regions. Effective surveillance for transmission of drug resistance is crucial.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: Global surveillance for tenofovir (TDF) resistance is important at a time of expanding use of TDF-containing regimens for treatment and prevention. This collaborative analysis used data collated from several small studies in different settings. Overall, around one in three people who had failed on TDF-containing treatment had evidence of TDF resistance, although this frequency varied between 20% in Europe to almost 60% in Africa. Mutations associated with NNRTIs and lamivudine/emtricitabine resistance were more common overall and were present in most people with TDF resistance.

The regional variation probably reflects differences in clinical practice and study inclusion criteria. All European studies involved cohorts with frequent viral load monitoring, whereas half of the African cohorts had no routine viral load monitoring. All European studies included people with virologic failure but with low-level viraemia (viral load <1000 copies/ml) whereas almost all African studies included only people with viral load >1000 copies/ml.

While these data provide useful estimates of the frequency of drug resistance mutations in people with virologic failure on first-line ART, there should be caution about extrapolating beyond this. Reports from cohort studies with an accurate denominator of all people starting TDF-containing first-line ART would be useful to give more reliable estimates of overall incidence of acquired TDF resistance. Moreover, there remains a need for representative population-based surveillance for acquired and transmitted drug resistance. So far, global surveillance has detected limited evidence of transmitted TDF-associated mutations, but this needs to be monitored closely, especially in high incidence settings.

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The effects of trauma follow people on the move

A systematic review of HIV risk behaviors and trauma among forced and unforced migrant populations from low and middle-income countries: state of the literature and future directions.

Michalopoulos LM, Aifah A, El-Bassel N. AIDS Behav. 2016 Feb;20(2):243-61. doi: 10.1007/s10461-015-1014-1.

The aim of the current systematic review is to examine the relationship between trauma and HIV risk behaviors among both forced and unforced migrant populations from low and middle income countries (LMIC). We conducted a review of studies published from 1995 to 2014. Data were extracted related to (1) the relationship between trauma and HIV risk behaviors, (2) methodological approach, (3) assessment methods, and (4) differences noted between forced and unforced migrants. A total of 340 records were retrieved with 24 studies meeting inclusion criteria. Our review demonstrated an overall relationship between trauma and HIV risk behaviors among migrant populations in LMIC, specifically with sexual violence and sexual risk behavior. However, findings from 10 studies were not in full support of the relationship. Findings from the review suggest that additional research using more rigorous methods is critically needed to understand the nature of the relationship experienced by this key-affected population.

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Editor’s notes: The number of forced and unforced migrants is growing globally. Refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDP) are forced migrants who often migrate due to political violence or conflict. Labour migrants are seen as unforced migrants who choose to emigrate for economic reasons. About half of labour migrants worldwide are women who are increasingly migrating on their own being the sole income provider for their families. With respect to trauma exposure and HIV risk in settings of long-term political violence and conflict, the distinction between war migrant, non-war migrant, and long-term resident is blurred. This in-depth review of 24 studies related to low-and middle-income countries (LMIC), mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, found findings similar to those from non-migrant populations in high-income countries. These linked traumatic experiences among migrant populations with HIV risk behaviours. Sexual violence was consistently associated with HIV sexual risk behaviours and HIV infection across the studies. But there are big gaps in the scientific literature. For example, the relationship between trauma and HIV risks has been explored for female labour migrants who are sex workers but not among women who have other occupations. Most studies addressed sexual risk and alcohol dependence, but injecting drug risk behaviours and use of any illicit drugs were virtually ignored by most studies. Few studies examined a possible link for trauma that occurred pre-migration and post-migration. Three qualitative studies examined male migrants who have sex with men, finding that violent experiences and discrimination and stigma associated with homophobia, combined with other migrant-associated traumas, can compound their mental health outcomes and subsequent HIV risk behaviours – but all were only conducted in the last four years. No studies were found that focused on HIV prevention programmes to address trauma and HIV risks among migrant workers in LMIC. However, the studies do reveal important factors that prevention programmes would have to consider. For example, concerns among labour migrants about dangerous working conditions may take precedence over HIV risk perceptions and the need for safer sex. This systematic review presents a wealth of information while highlighting the need to improve the quality of scientific research examining the link between HIV and trauma among both forced and unforced migrants in LMIC. 

Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America
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Routine use of steroids harmful in cryptococcal meningitis

Adjunctive Dexamethasone in HIV-Associated Cryptococcal Meningitis.

Beardsley J, Wolbers M, Kibengo FM, Ggayi AB, Kamali A, Cuc NT, Binh TQ, Chau NV, Farrar J, Merson L, Phuong L, Thwaites G, Van Kinh N, Thuy PT, Chierakul W, Siriboon S, Thiansukhon E, Onsanit S, Supphamongkholchaikul W, Chan AK, Heyderman R, Mwinjiwa E, van Oosterhout JJ, Imran D, Basri H, Mayxay M, Dance D, Phimmasone P, Rattanavong S, Lalloo DG, Day JN, CryptoDex Investigations. N Engl J Med. 2016 Feb 11;374(6):542-54. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1509024.

Background: Cryptococcal meningitis associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection causes more than 600 000 deaths each year worldwide. Treatment has changed little in 20 years, and there are no imminent new anticryptococcal agents. The use of adjuvant glucocorticoids reduces mortality among patients with other forms of meningitis in some populations, but their use is untested in patients with cryptococcal meningitis.

Methods: In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, we recruited adult patients with HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Uganda, and Malawi. All the patients received either dexamethasone or placebo for 6 weeks, along with combination antifungal therapy with amphotericin B and fluconazole.

Results: The trial was stopped for safety reasons after the enrollment of 451 patients. Mortality was 47% in the dexamethasone group and 41% in the placebo group by 10 weeks (hazard ratio in the dexamethasone group, 1.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84 to 1.47; P=0.45) and 57% and 49%, respectively, by 6 months (hazard ratio, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.53; P=0.20). The percentage of patients with disability at 10 weeks was higher in the dexamethasone group than in the placebo group, with 13% versus 25% having a prespecified good outcome (odds ratio, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.25 to 0.69; P<0.001). Clinical adverse events were more common in the dexamethasone group than in the placebo group (667 vs. 494 events, P=0.01), with more patients in the dexamethasone group having grade 3 or 4 infection (48 vs. 25 patients, P=0.003), renal events (22 vs. 7, P=0.004), and cardiac events (8 vs. 0, P=0.004). Fungal clearance in cerebrospinal fluid was slower in the dexamethasone group. Results were consistent across Asian and African sites.

Conclusions: Dexamethasone did not reduce mortality among patients with HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis and was associated with more adverse events and disability than was placebo.

Abstract  Full-text [free] access 

Editor’s notes: Outcomes from cryptococcal meningitis in people living with HIV are very poor. This was highlighted here. Three out of five people overall had died or were severely disabled ten weeks after enrolment. This clinical trial provides strong evidence that steroids cause more harm than good and therefore routine use should not be recommended. Dexamethasone was not only associated with higher risk of death or disability but also with higher risk of significant adverse events, particularly bacterial sepsis.

The majority of deaths occurred early, in the first three weeks. Most participants were ART naïve and severely immunosuppressed (CD4+ cell count <50 cells/µL) and most deaths look to have occurred prior to the scheduled start of antiretroviral therapy. This may also partly explain the low frequency of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) and the lack of any observed benefit of dexamethasone in reducing IRIS.

Although dexamethasone was associated with greater decline in intracranial pressure, this did not translate into improved neurological outcomes. All participants had regular lumbar punctures for pressure monitoring. This might have limited the potential to observe a benefit from dexamethasone. Some explanation for the adverse outcomes might come from the impaired fungal clearance in cerebrospinal fluid – a marker of poor outcomes in previous studies. It should be noted that antifungal treatment in this trial was suboptimal. The combination of amphotericin and flucytosine was not used, despite evidence of improved outcomes and more rapid fungal clearance with this regimen.

While the search should go on for better treatment strategies, the findings in this study emphasise the importance of prevention, focused firmly, on earlier HIV diagnosis and treatment.  

Comorbidity, HIV Treatment
Indonesia, Laos, Malawi, Thailand, Uganda, Viet Nam
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