• The Continuing Value of CD4 Cell Count Monitoring for Differential HIV Care and Surveillance

      Rice, B; Boulle, A; Schwarcz, S; Shroufi, A; Rutherford, G; Hargreaves, J (JMIR Publications, 2019-03-20)
      The move toward universal provision of antiretroviral therapy and the expansion of HIV viral load monitoring call into question the ongoing value of CD4 cell count testing and monitoring. We highlight the role CD4 monitoring continues to have in guiding clinical decisions and measuring and evaluating the epidemiology of HIV. To end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we require strategic information, which includes CD4 cell counts, to make informed clinical decisions and effectively monitor key surveillance indicators.
    • Point-of-Care Approaches for Meningitis Diagnosis in a Low-Resource Setting (Southwestern Uganda): Observational Cohort Study Protocol of the “PI-POC” Trial

      Gaudenzi, G; Kumbakumba, E; Rasti, R; Nanjebe, D; Reu, P; Nyehangane, D; Martensson, A; Nassejje, M; Karlsson, J; Mzee, J; et al. (JMIR Publications, 2020-11-04)
      Background: A timely differential diagnostic is essential to identify the etiology of central nervous system (CNS) infections in children, in order to facilitate targeted treatment, manage patients, and improve clinical outcome. Objective: The Pediatric Infection-Point-of-Care (PI-POC) trial is investigating novel methods to improve and strengthen the differential diagnostics of suspected childhood CNS infections in low-income health systems such as those in Southwestern Uganda. This will be achieved by evaluating (1) a novel DNA-based diagnostic assay for CNS infections, (2) a commercially available multiplex PCR-based meningitis/encephalitis (ME) panel for clinical use in a facility-limited laboratory setting, (3) proteomics profiling of blood from children with severe CNS infection as compared to outpatient controls with fever yet not severely ill, and (4) Myxovirus resistance protein A (MxA) as a biomarker in blood for viral CNS infection. Further changes in the etiology of childhood CNS infections after the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae will be investigated. In addition, the carriage and invasive rate of Neisseria meningitidis will be recorded and serotyped, and the expression of its major virulence factor (polysaccharide capsule) will be investigated. Methods: The PI-POC trial is a prospective observational study of children including newborns up to 12 years of age with clinical features of CNS infection, and age-/sex-matched outpatient controls with fever yet not severely ill. Participants are recruited at 2 Pediatric clinics in Mbarara, Uganda. Cerebrospinal fluid (for cases only), blood, and nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs (for both cases and controls) sampled at both clinics are analyzed at the Epicentre Research Laboratory through gold-standard methods for CNS infection diagnosis (microscopy, biochemistry, and culture) and a commercially available ME panel for multiplex PCR analyses of the cerebrospinal fluid. An additional blood sample from cases is collected on day 3 after admission. After initial clinical analyses in Mbarara, samples will be transported to Stockholm, Sweden for (1) validation analyses of a novel nucleic acid–based POC test, (2) biomarker research, and (3) serotyping and molecular characterization of S. pneumoniae and N. meningitidis. Results: A pilot study was performed from January to April 2019. The PI-POC trial enrollment of patients begun in April 2019 and will continue until September 2020, to include up to 300 cases and controls. Preliminary results from the PI-POC study are expected by the end of 2020. Conclusions: The findings from the PI-POC study can potentially facilitate rapid etiological diagnosis of CNS infections in low-resource settings and allow for novel methods for determination of the severity of CNS infection in such environment.
    • Standardized Protocol Items Recommendations for Observational Studies (SPIROS) for Observational Study Protocol Reporting Guidelines: Protocol for a Delphi Study

      Mahajan, R; Burza, S; Bouter, LM; Sijtsma, K; Knottnerus, A; Kleijnen, J; Dael, PV; Zeegers, MP (JMIR Publications, 2020-10-21)
      Background: Approximately 90% of currently published clinical and public health research is in the form of observational studies. Having a detailed and registered study protocol prior to data collection is important in any empirical study. Without this, there is no reliable way to assess the occurrence of publication bias, outcome reporting bias, and other protocol deviations. However, there is currently no solid guidance available on the information that a protocol for an observational study should contain. Objective: The aim of this study is to formulate the Standardized Protocol Items Recommendations for Observational Studies (SPIROS) reporting guidelines, which focus on 3 main study designs of analytical epidemiology: cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies. Methods: A scoping review of published protocol papers of observational studies in epidemiology will identify candidate items for the SPIROS reporting guidelines. The list of items will be extended with the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist items and recommendations from the SPIROS steering committee. This long list serves as the basis for a 2-round Delphi survey among experts to obtain consensus on which items to include. Each candidate item from the long list will be rated on a 5-point Likert scale to assess relevance for inclusion in the SPIROS reporting guidelines. Following the Delphi survey, an expert-driven consensus workshop will be convened to finalize the reporting guidelines. Results: A scoping review of published observational study protocols has been completed, with 59 candidate items identified for inclusion into the Delphi survey, itself launched in early 2020. Conclusions: This project aims to improve the timeliness, completeness, and clarity of study protocols of observational studies in analytical epidemiology by producing expert-based recommendations of items to be addressed. These reporting guidelines will facilitate and encourage researchers to prepare and register study protocols of sufficient quality prior to data collection in order to improve the transparency, reproducibility, and quality of observational studies.