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  • "It's a secret between us": a qualitative study on children and care-giver experiences of HIV disclosure in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Sumbi, EM; Venables, E; Harrison, R; Garcia, M; Iakovidi, K; van Cutsem, G; Chalachala, JL (BMC, 2021-02-06)
    Background: It is estimated that 64,000 children under 15 years of age are living with HIV in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Non-disclosure - in which the child is not informed about their HIV status - is likely to be associated with poor outcomes during adolescence including increased risk of poor adherence and retention, and treatment failure. Disclosing a child's HIV status to them can be a difficult process for care-givers and children, and in this qualitative study we explored child and care-giver experiences of the process of disclosing, including reasons for delay. Methods: A total of 22 in-depth interviews with care-givers and 11 in-depth interviews with HIV positive children whom they were caring for were conducted in one health-care facility in the capital city of Kinshasa. Care-givers were purposively sampled to include those who had disclosed to their children and those who had not. Care-givers included biological parents, grandmothers, siblings and community members and 86% of them were female. Interviews were conducted in French and Lingala. All interviews were translated and/or transcribed into French before being manually coded. Thematic analysis was conducted. Verbal informed consent/assent was taken from all interviewees. Results: At the time of interview, the mean age of children and care-givers was 17 (15-19) and 47 (21-70) years old, respectively. Many care-givers had lost family members due to HIV and several were HIV positive themselves. Reasons for non-disclosure included fear of stigmatisation; wanting to protect the child and not having enough knowledge about HIV or the status of the child to disclose. Several children had multiple care-givers, which also delayed disclosure, as responsibility for the child was shared. In addition, some care-givers were struggling to accept their own HIV status and did not want their child to blame them for their own positive status by disclosing to them. Conclusions: Child disclosure is a complex process for care-givers, health-care workers and the children themselves. Care-givers may require additional psycho-social support to manage disclosure. Involving multiple care-givers in the care of HIV positive children could offer additional support for disclosure.
  • Virologic response of adolescents living with perinatally acquired HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy in the period of early adolescence (10-14 years) in South Africa.

    Nyakato, P; Schomaker, M; Sipambo, N; Technau, KG; Fatti, G; Rabie, H; Tanser, F; Eley, B; Euvrard, J; Wood, R; et al. (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2021-01-21)
    Background and objectives: Adolescents living with perinatally acquired HIV (ALPHIV) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) have been noted to have poorer adherence, retention and virologic control compared to adolescents with nonperinatally acquired HIV, children or adults. We aimed to describe and examine factors associated with longitudinal virologic response during early adolescence. Design: A retrospective cohort study Methods: We included ALPHIV who initiated ART before age 9.5 years in South African cohorts of the International epidemiology Database to Evaluate AIDS-Southern Africa (IeDEA-SA) collaboration (2004–2016); with viral load (VL) values <400 copies/ml at age 10 years and at least one VL measurement after age 10 years. We used a log-linear quantile mixed model to assess factors associated with elevated (75th quantile) VLs. Results: We included 4396 ALPHIV, 50.7% were male, with median (interquartile range) age at ART start of 6.5 (4.5, 8.1) years. Of these, 74.9% were on a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) at age 10 years. After adjusting for other patient characteristics, the 75th quantile VLs increased with increasing age being 3.13-fold (95% CI 2.66, 3.68) higher at age 14 versus age 10, were 3.25-fold (95% CI 2.81, 3.75) higher for patients on second-line protease-inhibitor and 1.81-fold for second-line NNRTI-based regimens (versus first-line NNRTI-based regimens). There was no difference by sex. Conclusions: As adolescents age between 10 and 14 years, they are increasingly likely to experience higher VL values, particularly if receiving second-line protease inhibitor or NNRTI-based regimens, which warrant adherence support interventions.
  • Prevalence of HIV, viral hepatitis B/C and tuberculosis and treatment outcomes among people who use drugs: Results from the implementation of the first drop-in-center in Mozambique

    Sema Baltazar, C; Kellogg, TA; Boothe, M; Loarec, A; de Abreu, E; Condula, M; Fazito, E; Raymond, HF; Temmerman, M; Luchters, S (Elsevier, 2021-01-08)
    Background People who use drugs (PWUD) which includes both people who inject drugs (PWID) and non-injection drug users (NIDU) are marginalized, experience high levels of stigma and discrimination, and are likely to have challenges with accessing health services. Mozambique implemented the first drop-in center (DIC) for PWUD in Maputo City in 2018. This analysis aims to assess the prevalence of HIV, viral hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) and tuberculosis (TB) among PWUD, and assess their linkage to care and associated correlates. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional retrospective analysis of routine screening data collected from the first visit at the drop-in center (DIC) during the period of May 2018 to November 2019 (18 months). Descriptive and multivariable logistic regression analysis were conducted to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of HIV, HBV, HCV and TB infections among PWID and NIDU. Cox proportional hazards models of determinants were used to estimate time from HIV diagnosis to linkage to care for PWUD. Results A total of 1,818 PWUD were screened at the DIC, of whom 92.6% were male. The median age was 27 years (range:14–63). Heroin was the most consumed drug (93.8%), and among people who used it, 15.5% injected it. Prevalence of HIV (43.9%), HCV (22.6%) and HBV (5.9%) was higher among PWID (p<0.001). Linkage to HIV care was observed in 40.5% of newly diagnosed PWID. Factors associated with shorter time to linkage to care included drug injection (aHR=1.6) and confirmed TB infection (aHR=2.9). Conclusion This was the first analysis conducted on the implementation of the DIC in Mozambique and highlights the importance of targeted services for this high-risk population. Our analysis confirmed a high prevalence of HIV, HBV and HCV, and highlight the challenges with linkage to care among PWID. The expansion of DIC locations to other high-risk localities to enhance HIV testing, treatment services and linkage to care to reduce ongoing transmission of HIV, HBV, HCV and TB and improve health outcomes.
  • Outcomes of AIDS-associated Kaposi sarcoma in Mozambique after treatment with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin

    Coldiron, ME; Gutierrez Zamudio, AG; Manuel, R; Luciano, G; Rusch, B; Ciglenecki, I; Telnov, A; Grais, RF; Trellu, LT; Molfino, L (BMC, 2021-01-07)
    Background Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a common HIV-associated malignancy frequently associated with poor outcomes. It is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in major cities of Mozambique. Antiretroviral therapy is the cornerstone of KS treatment, but many patients require cytotoxic chemotherapy. The traditional regimen in Mozambique includes conventional doxorubicin, bleomycin and vincristine, which is poorly tolerated. In 2016, pegylated liposomal doxorubicin was introduced at a specialized outpatient center in Maputo, Mozambique. Methods We performed a prospective, single-arm, open-label observational study to demonstrate the feasibility, safety, and outcomes of treatment with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) in patients with AIDS-associated Kaposi sarcoma (KS) in a low-resource setting. Chemotherapy-naïve adults with AIDS-associated KS (T1 or T0 not responding to 6 months of antiretroviral therapy) were eligible if they were willing to follow up for 2 years. Patients with Karnofsky scores < 50 or contraindications to PLD were excluded. One hundred eighty-three patients were screened and 116 participants were enrolled. Patients received PLD on three-week cycles until meeting clinical stopping criteria. Follow-up visits monitored HIV status, KS disease, side effects of chemotherapy, mental health (PHQ-9) and quality of life (SF-12). Primary outcome measures included vital status and disease status at 6, 12, and 24 months after enrollment. Results At 24 months, 23 participants (20%) had died and 15 (13%) were lost to follow-up. Baseline CD4 < 100 was associated with death (HR 2.7, 95%CI [1.2–6.2], p = 0.016), as was T1S1 disease compared to T1S0 disease (HR 2.7, 95%CI [1.1–6.4], p = 0.023). Ninety-two participants achieved complete or partial remission at any point (overall response rate 80%), including 15 (13%) who achieved complete remission. PLD was well-tolerated, and the most common AEs were neutropenia and anemia. Quality of life improved rapidly after beginning PLD. Discussion PLD was safe, well-tolerated and effective as first-line treatment of KS in Mozambique. High mortality was likely due to advanced immunosuppression at presentation, underscoring the importance of earlier screening and referral for KS.
  • Ending deaths from HIV-related cryptococcal meningitis by 2030

    Shroufi, A; Chiller, T; Jordan, A; Denning, DW; Harrison, TS; Govender, NP; Loyse, A; Baptiste, S; Rajasingham, R; Boulware, DR; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-01-01)
    The UNAIDS target to reduce HIV-related death to fewer than 500 000 deaths per year by 2020 will not be met. 1 This statement might not be headline grabbing as this target was never as prominent as the 90-90-90 targets, 2 the achievement of which is a necessary but not sufficient step towards ending AIDS mortality.
  • Urine lipoarabinomannan (LAM) testing for all HIV patients hospitalized in the medical wards identifies a large proportion of patients with tuberculosis at risk of death

    Huerga, H; Mathabire Rucker, SC; Bastard, M; Mpunga, J; Amoros Quiles, I; Kabaghe, C; Sannino, L; Szumilin, E (Oxford University Press, 2020-12-23)
    Background Diagnosing tuberculosis (TB), the leading cause of death in people with HIV, remains a challenge in resource-limited countries. We assessed TB diagnosis using a strategy that included systematic urine lipoarabinomannan (LAM) testing for all HIV patients hospitalized in the medical wards and 6-month mortality according to the LAM result. Methods This prospective, observational study included adult HIV patients hospitalized in the medical wards of a public district hospital in Malawi regardless of their TB symptoms or CD4 count. Each patient had a clinical examination and Alere Determine TB-LAM, sputum microscopy, sputum GeneXpert MTB/RIF (Xpert), chest X-ray, and CD4 count were systematically requested. Results Among 387 inpatients, 54% had a CD4<200 cells/µL, 64% had presumptive TB and 90% had ≥1 TB symptom recorded in the medical file. LAM results were available for 99.0% of the patients, microscopy for 62.8% and Xpert for 60.7%. In total, 26.1% (100/383) had LAM-positive results, 48% (48/100) of which were grades 2-4. Any TB laboratory test result was positive in 30.8% (119/387). Among patients with no Xpert result, 28.5% (43/151) were LAM-positive. Cumulative 6-months mortality was 40.1% (151/377): 50.5% (49/97) in LAM-positives and 36.2% (100/276) in LAM-negatives, p=0.013. In multivariable regression analyses, LAM-positive patients had higher risk of mortality than LAM-negatives (aOR: 2.5, 95%CI: 1.1-5.8, p=0.037). Conclusions In resource-limited hospital medical wards with high TB prevalence, a diagnostic strategy including systematic urine-LAM testing for all HIV patients is an easily implementable strategy that identifies a large proportion of patients with TB at risk of death.
  • Twenty‐four‐month outcomes from a cluster‐randomized controlled trial of extending antiretroviral therapy refills in ART adherence clubs

    Cassidy, T; Grimsrud, A; Keene, C; Lebelo, K; Hayes, H; Orrell, C; Zokufa, N; Mutsetekwa, T; Voget, J; Gerstenhaber, R; et al. (Wiley Open Access, 2020-12-19)
    Introduction The antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence club (AC) model has supported clinically stable HIV patients’ retention with group ART refills and psychosocial support. Reducing visit frequency by increasing ART refills to six months could further benefit patients and unburden health systems. We conducted a pragmatic non‐inferiority cluster randomized trial comparing standard of care (SoC) ACs and six‐month refill intervention ACs in a primary care facility in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Methods Existing community‐based and facility‐based ACs were randomized to either SoC or intervention ACs. SoC ACs met five times annually, receiving two‐month refills with a four‐month refill over year‐end. Blood was drawn at one AC visit with a clinical assessment at the next. Intervention ACs met twice annually receiving six‐month refills, with an individual blood collection visit before the annual clinical assessment AC visit. The first study visits were in October and November 2017 and participants followed for 27 months. We report retention in care, viral load completion and viral suppression (<400 copies/mL) 24 months after enrolment and calculated intention‐to‐treat risk differences for the primary outcomes using generalized estimating equations specifying for clustering by AC. Results Of 2150 participants included in the trial, 977 were assigned to the intervention arm (40 ACs) and 1173 to the SoC (48 ACs). Patient characteristics at enrolment were similar across groups. Retention in care at 24 months was similarly high in both arms: 93.6% (1098/1173) in SoC and 92.6% (905/977) in the intervention arm, with a risk difference of −1.0% (95% CI: −3.2 to 1.3). The intervention arm had higher viral load completion (90.8% (999/1173) versus 85.1% (887/977)) and suppression (87.3% (969 /1173) versus 82.6% (853/977)) at 24 months, with a risk difference for completion of 5.5% (95% CI: 1.5 to 9.5) and suppression of 4.6% (95% CI: 0.2 to 9.0). Conclusions Intervention AC patients receiving six‐month ART refills showed non‐inferior retention in care, viral load completion and viral load suppression to those in SoC ACs, adding to a growing literature showing good outcomes with extended ART dispensing intervals.
  • Factors associated with antiretroviral treatment failure among people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy in resource-poor settings: a systematic review and metaanalysis

    Lailulo, Y; Kitenge, M; Jaffer, S; Aluko, O; Nyasulu, PS (BMC, 2020-12-12)
    Background Despite the increase in the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART), there is limited data regarding treatment failure and its related factors among HIV-positive individuals enrolled in HIV care in resource-poor settings. This review aimed to identify factors associated with antiretroviral treatment failure among individuals living with HIV on ART in resource-poor settings. Methods We conducted a comprehensive search on MEDLINE (PubMed), Excerpta Medica Database (EMBASE), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) library database, and Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS). We included observational studies (cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies) where adolescents and adults living with HIV were on antiretroviral treatment regardless of the ART regimen. The primary outcomes of interest were immunological, virological, and clinical failure. Some of the secondary outcomes were mm3 opportunistic infections, WHO clinical stage, and socio-demographic factors. We screened titles, abstracts, and the full texts of relevant articles in duplicate. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. We analyzed the data by doing a meta-analysis to pool the results for each outcome of interest. Results Antiretroviral failure was nearly 6 times higher among patients who had poor adherence to treatment as compared to patients with a good treatment adherence (OR = 5.90, 95% CI 3.50, 9.94, moderate strength of evidence). The likelihood of the treatment failure was almost 5 times higher among patients with CD4 < 200 cells/mm3 compared to those with CD4 ≥ 200 CD4 cells/mm3 (OR = 4.82, 95% CI 2.44, 9.52, low strength of evidence). This result shows that poor adherence and CD4 count below < 200 cells/mm3 are significantly associated with treatment failure among HIV-positive patients on ART in a resource-limited setting. Conclusion This review highlights that low CD4 counts and poor adherence to ART were associated to ART treatment failure. There is a need for healthcare workers and HIV program implementers to focus on patients who have these characteristics in order to prevent ART treatment failure.
  • Radical Pleasure: Feminist Digital Storytelling by, with, and for Women Living with HIV

    Carter, A; Anam, F; Sanchez, M; Roche, J; Wynne, ST; Stash, J; Webster, K; Nicholson, V; Patterson, S; Kaida, A (Springer, 2020-11-24)
    Despite the fact that HIV can be controlled with medication to undetectable levels where it cannot be passed on, stigmatization of women living with HIV persists. Such stigmatization pivots on stereotypes around sex and sexism and has force in women’s lives. Our aim was to create an inspirational resource for women living with HIV regarding sex, relationships, and sexuality: www.lifeandlovewithhiv.ca (launched in July 2018). This paper describes the development and mixed-method evaluation of our first year and a half activities. We situated our work within a participatory arts-based knowledge translation planning framework and used multiple data sources (Google Analytics, stories and comments on the website, team reflections over multiple meetings) to report on interim outcomes and impacts. In our first 1.5 years, we recruited and mentored 12 women living with HIV from around the world (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Spain, Nigeria, and the U.S.) to write their own stories, with the support of a mentor/editor, as a way of regaining control of HIV narratives and asserting their right to have pleasurable, fulfilling, and safer sexual lives. Writers published 43 stories about pleasure, orgasm, bodies, identities, trauma, resilience, dating, disclosure, self-love, and motherhood. Our social media community grew to 1600, and our website received approximately 300 visits per month, most by women (70%) and people aged 25–44 years (65%), from more than 50 cities globally, with shifts in use and demographics over time. Qualitative data indicated the power of feminist digital storytelling for opportunity, access, validation, and healing, though not without risks. We offer recommendations to others interested in using arts-based digital methods to advance social equity in sexual health.
  • Treating HIV-associated cytomegalovirus retinitis with oral valganciclovir and intra-ocular ganciclovir by primary HIV clinicians in southern Myanmar: a retrospective analysis of routinely collected data

    Murray, J; Hilbig, A; Soe, TT; Ei, WLSS; Soe, KP; Ciglenecki, I (BMC, 2020-11-13)
    Background Cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR) is an opportunistic infection in HIV-infected people. Intraocular or intravenous ganciclovir was gold standard for treatment; however, oral valganciclovir replaced this in high-income countries. Low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) frequently use intraocular injection of ganciclovir (IOG) alone because of cost. Methods Retrospective review of all HIV-positive patients with CMVR from February 2013 to April 2017 at a Médecins Sans Frontièrs HIV clinic in Myanmar. Treatment was classified as local (IOG) or systemic (valganciclovir, or valganciclovir and IOG). The primary outcome was change in visual acuity (VA) post-treatment. Mortality was a secondary outcome. Results Fifty-three patients were included. Baseline VA was available for 103 (97%) patient eyes. Active CMVR was present in 72 (68%) eyes. Post-treatment, seven (13%) patients had improvement in VA, 30 (57%) had no change, and three (6%) deteriorated. Among patients receiving systemic therapy, four (12.5%) died, compared with five (24%) receiving local therapy (p = 0.19). Conclusions Our results from the first introduction of valganciclovir for CMVR in LMIC show encouraging effectiveness and safety in patients with advanced HIV. We urge HIV programmes to include valganciclovir as an essential medicine, and to include CMVR screening and treatment in the package of advanced HIV care.
  • Implementation and operational feasibility of SAMBA I HIV‐1 semi‐quantitative viral load testing at the point‐of‐care in rural settings in Malawi and Uganda

    Gueguen, M; Nicholas, S; Poulet, E; Schramm, B; Szumilin, E; Wolters, L; Wapling, J; Ajule, E; Rakesh, A; Mwenda, R; et al. (Wiley, 2020-11-07)
    Objective We monitored a large‐scale implementation of the Simple Amplification‐Based Assay semi‐quantitative viral load test for HIV‐1 version I (SAMBA I Viral Load = SAMBA I VL) within Médecins Sans Frontières’ HIV programmes in Malawi and Uganda, to assess its performance and operational feasibility. Methods Descriptive analysis of routine programme data between August 2013 and December 2016. The dataset included samples collected for VL monitoring and tested using SAMBA I VL in five HIV clinics in Malawi (four peripheral health centres and one district hospital), and one HIV clinic in a regional referral hospital in Uganda. SAMBA I VL was used for VL testing in patients who had been receiving ART for between 6 months and ten years, to determine whether plasma VL was above or below 1000 copies/mL of HIV‐1, reflecting ART failure or efficacy. Randomly selected samples were quantified with commercial VL assays. SAMBA I instruments and test performance, site throughput, and delays in communicating results to clinicians and patients were monitored. Results Between August 2013 and December 2016 a total of 60 889 patient samples were analysed with SAMBA I VL. Overall, 0.23% of initial SAMBA I VL results were invalid; this was reduced to 0.04% after repeating the test once. Global test failure, including instrument failure, was 1.34%. Concordance with reference quantitative testing of VL was 2620/2727, 96.0% (1338/1382, 96.8% in Malawi; 1282/1345, 95.3% in Uganda). For Chiradzulu peripheral health centres and Arua Hospital HIV clinic, where testing was performed on‐site, same‐day results were communicated to clinicians for between 91% and 97% of samples. Same‐day clinical review was obtained for 84.7% across the whole set of samples tested. Conclusions SAMBA I VL testing is feasible for monitoring cohorts of 1000 to 5000 ART‐experienced patients. Same‐day results can be used to inform rapid clinical decision‐making at rural and remote health facilities, potentially reducing time available for development of resistance and conceivably helping to reduce morbidity and mortality.
  • Comparative Effectiveness of Interventions to Improve the HIV Continuum of Care and HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis in Kenya: A Model-Based Analysis

    Luong Nguyen, LB; Freedberg, KA; Wanjala, S; Maman, D; Szumilin, E; Mendiharat, P; Yazdanpanah, Y (Oxford University Press, 2020-10-27)
    Background In Western Kenya up to one-quarter of the adult population was human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected in 2012. The Ministry of Health, Médecins Sans Frontières, and partners implemented an HIV program that surpassed the 90-90-90 UNAIDS targets. In this generalized epidemic, we compared the effectiveness of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with improving continuum of care. Methods We developed a dynamic microsimulation model to project HIV incidence and infections averted to 2030. We modeled 3 strategies compared to a 90-90-90 continuum of care base case: (1) scaling up the continuum of care to 95-95-95, (2) PrEP targeting young adults with 10% coverage, and (3) scaling up to 95-95-95 and PrEP combined. Results In the base case, by 2030 HIV incidence was 0.37/100 person-years. Improving continuum levels to 95-95-95 averted 21.5% of infections, PrEP averted 8.0%, and combining 95-95-95 and PrEP averted 31.8%. Sensitivity analysis showed that PrEP coverage had to exceed 20% to avert as many infections as reaching 95-95-95. Conclusions In a generalized HIV epidemic with continuum of care levels at 90-90-90, improving the continuum to 95-95-95 is more effective than providing PrEP. Continued improvement in the continuum of care will have the greatest impact on decreasing new HIV infections.
  • Impact of the implementation of new guidelines on the management of patients with HIV infection at an advanced HIV clinic in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Mangana, F; Massaquoi, L D; Moudachirou, R; Harrison, R; Kaluangila, T; Mucinya, G; Ntabugi, N; van Cutsem, G; Burton, R; Isaakidis, P (BMC, 2020-10-07)
    Background: HIV continues to be the main determinant morbidity with high mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a high number of patients being late presenters with advanced HIV. Clinical management of advanced HIV patients is thus complex and requires strict adherence to updated, empirical and simplified guidelines. The current study investigated the impact of the implementation of a new clinical guideline on the management of advanced HIV in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Methods: A retrospective analysis of routine clinical data of advanced HIV patients was conducted for the periods; February 2016 to March 2017, before implementation of new guidelines, and November 2017 to July 2018, after the implementation of new guidelines. Eligible patients were patients with CD4 < 200 cell/μl and presenting with at least 1 of 4 opportunistic infections. Patient files were reviewed by a medical doctor and a committee of 3 other doctors for congruence. Statistical significance was set at 0.05%. Results: Two hundred four and Two hundred thirty-one patients were eligible for inclusion before and after the implementation of new guidelines respectively. Sex and age distributions were similar for both periods, and median CD4 were 36 & 52 cell/μl, before and after the new guidelines implementation, respectively. 40.7% of patients had at least 1 missed/incorrect diagnosis before the new guidelines compared to 30% after new guidelines, p < 0.05. Clinical diagnosis for TB and toxoplasmosis were also much improved after the implementation of new guidelines. In addition, only 63% of patients had CD4 count test results before the new guidelines compared to 99% of patients after new guidelines. Death odds after the implementation of new guidelines were significantly lower than before new guidelines in a multivariate regression model that included patients CD4 count and 10 other covariates, p < 0.05. Conclusions: Simplification and implementation of a new and improved HIV clinical guideline coupled with the installation of laboratory equipment and point of care tests potentially helped reduce incorrect diagnosis and improve clinical outcomes of patients with advanced HIV. Regulating authorities should consider developing simplified versions of guidelines followed by the provision of basic diagnostic equipment to health centers.
  • Lived experiences of palliative care among people living with HIV/AIDS: a qualitative study from Bihar, India.

    Nair, M; Kumar, P; Mahajan, R; Harshana, A; Richardson, K; Moreto-Planas, L; Burza, S (BMJ Publishing Group, 2020-10-05)
    Objectives: This study aimed to assess the lived experiences of palliative care among critically unwell people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), caregivers and relatives of deceased patients. It also aimed to understand the broader palliative care context in Bihar. Design: This was an exploratory, qualitative study which used thematic analysis of semistructured, in-depth interviews as well as a focus group discussion. Setting: All interviews took place in a secondary care hospital in Patna, Bihar which provides holistic care to critically unwell PLHA. Participants: We purposively selected 29 participants: 10 critically unwell PLHA, 5 caregivers of hospitalised patients, 7 relatives of deceased patients who were treated in the secondary care hospital and 7 key informants from community-based organisations. Results: Critically ill PLHA emphasised the need for psychosocial counselling and opportunities for social interaction in the ward, as well as a preference for components of home-based palliative care, even though they were unfamiliar with actual terms such as 'palliative care' and 'end-of-life care'. Critically unwell PLHA generally expressed preference for separate, private inpatient areas for end-of-life care. Relatives of deceased patients stated that witnessing patients' deaths caused trauma for other PLHA. Caregivers and relatives of deceased patients felt there was inadequate time and space for grieving in the hospital. While both critically ill PLHA and relatives wished that poor prognosis be transparently disclosed to family members, many felt it should not be disclosed to the dying patients themselves. Conclusions: Despite expected high inpatient fatality rates, PLHA in Bihar lack access to palliative care services. PLHA receiving end-of-life care in hospitals should have a separate dedicated area, with adequate psychosocial counselling and activities to prevent social isolation. Healthcare providers should make concerted efforts to inquire, understand and adapt their messaging on prognosis and end-of-life care based on patients' preferences.
  • Successes and gaps in the HIV cascade of care of a high HIV prevalence setting in Zimbabwe: a population-based survey.

    Conan, N; Coulborn, RM; Simons, E; Mapfumo, A; Apollo, T; Garone, DB; Casas, EC; Puren, AJ; Chihana, ML; Maman, D (Wiley Open Access, 2020-09-24)
    Introduction: Gutu, a rural district in Zimbabwe, has been implementing comprehensive HIV care with the support of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 2011, decentralizing testing and treatment services to all rural healthcare facilities. We evaluated HIV prevalence, incidence and the cascade of care, in Gutu District five years after MSF began its activities. Methods: A cross-sectional study was implemented between September and December 2016. Using multistage cluster sampling, individuals aged ≥15 years living in the selected households were eligible. Individuals who agreed to participate were interviewed and tested for HIV at home. All participants who tested HIV-positive had their HIV-RNA viral load (VL) measured, regardless of their antiretroviral therapy (ART) status, and those not on ART with HIV-RNA VL ≥ 1000 copies/mL had Limiting-Antigen-Avidity EIA Assay for cross-sectional estimation of population-level HIV incidence. Results: Among 5439 eligible adults ≥15 years old, 89.0% of adults were included in the study and accepted an HIV test. The overall prevalence was 13.6% (95%: Confidence Interval (CI): 12.6 to 14.5). Overall HIV-positive status awareness was 87.4% (95% CI: 84.7 to 89.8), linkage to care 85.5% (95% CI: 82.5 to 88.0) and participants in care 83.8% (95% CI: 80.7 to 86.4). ART coverage among HIV-positive participants was 83.0% (95% CI: 80.0 to 85.7). Overall, 71.6% (95% CI 68.0 to 75.0) of HIV-infected participants had a HIV-RNA VL < 1000 copies/mL. Women achieved higher outcomes than men in the five stages of the cascade of care. Viral Load Suppression (VLS) among participants on ART was 83.2% (95% CI: 79.7 to 86.2) and was not statistically different between women and men (p = 0.98). The overall HIV incidence was estimated at 0.35% (95% CI 0.00 to 0.70) equivalent to 35 new cases/10,000 person-years. Conclusions: Our study provides population-level evidence that achievement of HIV cascade of care coverage overall and among women is feasible in a context with broad access to services and implementation of a decentralized model of care. However, the VLS was relatively low even among participants on ART. Quality care remains the most critical gap in the cascade of care to further reduce mortality and HIV transmission.
  • Outcomes of patients on second- and third-line ART enrolled in ART adherence clubs in Maputo, Mozambique.

    Finci, I; Flores, A; Gutierrez Zamudio, A G; Matsinhe, A; de Abreu, E; Issufo, S; Gaspar, I; Ciglenecki, I; Molfino, L (Wiley, 2020-09-22)
    Objectives: Adherence clubs (AC) offer patient-centred access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) while reducing the burden on health facilities. AC were implemented in a health centre in Mozambique specialising in patients with a history of HIV treatment failure. We explored the impact of AC on retention in care and VL suppression of these patients. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of patients enrolled in AC receiving second- or third-line ART. The Kaplan-Meier estimates were used to analyse retention in care in health facility, retention in AC and viral load (VL) suppression (VL < 1000 copies/mL). Predictors of attrition and VL rebound (VL ≥ 1000 copies/mL) were assessed using multivariable proportional hazards regression. Results: The analysed cohort contained 699 patients, median age 40 years [IQR: 35-47], 428 (61%) female and 97% second-line ART. Overall, 9 (1.3%) patients died, and 10 (1.4%) were lost to follow-up. Retention in care at months 12 and 24 was 98.9% (95% CI: 98.2-99.7) and 96.4% (95% CI: 94.6-98.2), respectively. Concurrently, 85.8% (95% CI: 83.1-88.2) and 80.9% (95% CI: 77.8-84.1) of patients maintained VL suppression. No association between predictors and all-cause attrition or VL rebound was detected. Among 90 patients attending AC and simultaneously having VL rebound, 64 (71.1%) achieved VL resuppression, 10 (11.1%) did not resuppress, and 14 (15.6%) had no subsequent VL result. Conclusion: Implementation of AC in Mozambique was successful and demonstrated that patients with a history of HIV treatment failure can be successfully retained in care and have high VL suppression rate when enrolled in AC. Expansion of the AC model in Mozambique could improve overall retention in care and VL suppression while reducing workload in health facilities.
  • Southern African HIV Clinicians Society guidelines for antiretroviral therapy in adults: 2020 update

    Nel, J; Dlamini, S; Meintjes, G; Burton, R; Black, JM; Davies, NECG; Hefer, E; Maartens, G; Mangena, PM; Mathe, MT; et al. (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2020-09-16)
  • The People Living with HIV Stigma Index 2.0: generating critical evidence for change worldwide.

    Friedland, BA; Gottert, A; Hows, J; Baral, SD; Sprague, L; Nyblade, L; McClair, TL; Anam, F; Geibel, S; Kentutsi, S; et al. (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2020-09-01)
    Objective(s): To describe the process of updating the People Living with HIV (PLHIV) Stigma Index (Stigma Index) to reflect current global treatment guidelines and to better measure intersecting stigmas and resilience. Design: Through an iterative process driven by PLHIV, the Stigma Index was revised, pretested, and formally evaluated in three cross-sectional studies. Methods: Between March and October 2017, 1153 surveys (n = 377, Cameroon; n = 390, Senegal; n = 391, Uganda) were conducted with PLHIV at least 18 years old who had known their status for at least 1 year. PLHIV interviewers administered the survey on tablet computers or mobile phones to a diverse group of purposively sampled respondents recruited through PLHIV networks, community-based organizations, HIV clinics, and snowball sampling. Sixty respondents participated in cognitive interviews (20 per country) to assess if questions were understood as intended, and eight focus groups (Uganda only) assessed relevance of the survey, overall. Results: The Stigma Index 2.0 performed well and was relevant to PLHIV in all three countries. HIV-related stigma was experienced by more than one-third of respondents, including in HIV care settings. High rates of stigma experienced by key populations (such as MSM and sex workers) impeded access to HIV services. Many PLHIV also demonstrated resilience per the new PLHIV Resilience Scale. Conclusion: The Stigma Index 2.0 is now more relevant to the current context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and response. Results will be critical for addressing gaps in program design and policies that must be overcome to support PLHIV engaging in services, adhering to antiretroviral therapy, being virally suppressed, and leading healthy, stigma-free lives.
  • 'Only twice a year': a qualitative exploration of 6-month antiretroviral treatment refills in adherence clubs for people living with HIV in Khayelitsha, South Africa

    Keene, CM; Zokufa, N; Venables, EC; Wilkinson, L; Hoffman, R; Cassidy, T; Snyman, L; Grimsrud, A; Voget, J; von der Heyden, E; et al. (BMJ, 2020-07-08)
    Objective Longer intervals between routine clinic visits and medication refills are part of patient-centred, differentiated service delivery (DSD). They have been shown to improve patient outcomes as well as optimise health services—vital as ‘universal test-and-treat’ targets increase numbers of HIV patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART). This qualitative study explored patient, healthcare worker and key informant experiences and perceptions of extending ART refills to 6 months in adherence clubs in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Design and setting In-depth interviews were conducted in isiXhosa with purposively selected patients and in English with healthcare workers and key informants. All transcripts were audio-recorded, transcribed and translated to English, manually coded and thematically analysed. The participants had been involved in a randomised controlled trial evaluating multi-month ART dispensing in adherence clubs, comparing 6-month and 2-month refills. Participants Twenty-three patients, seven healthcare workers and six key informants. Results Patients found that 6-month refills increased convenience and reduced unintended disclosure. Contrary to key informant concerns about patients’ responsibility to manage larger quantities of ART, patients receiving 6-month refills were highly motivated and did not face challenges transporting, storing or adhering to treatment. All participant groups suggested that strict eligibility criteria were necessary for patients to realise the benefits of extended dispensing intervals. Six-month refills were felt to increase health system efficiency, but there were concerns about whether the existing drug supply system could adapt to 6-month refills on a larger scale. Conclusions Patients, healthcare workers and key informants found 6-month refills within adherence clubs acceptable and beneficial, but concerns were raised about the reliability of the supply chain to manage extended multi-month dispensing. Stepwise, slow expansion could avoid overstressing supply and allow time for the health system to adapt, permitting 6-month ART refills to enhance current DSD options to be more efficient and patient-centred within current health system constraints.
  • Population-wide differentials in HIV service access and outcomes in the Western Cape for men as compared to women, South Africa: 2008 to 2018: a cohort analysis

    Osler, M; Cornell, M; Ford, N; Hilderbrand, K; Goemaere, E; Boulle, A (Wiley, 2020-06-26)
    Introduction Few studies have systematically described population‐level differences comparing men and women across the continuum of routine HIV care. This study quantifies differentials in HIV care, treatment and mortality outcomes for men and women over time in South Africa. Methods We analysed population‐wide linked anonymized data, including vital registration linkage, for the Western Cape Province, from the time of first CD4 count. Three antiretroviral therapy guideline eligibility periods were defined: 1 January 2008 to 31 July 2011 (CD4 cell count <200 cells/µL), 1 August 2011 to 31 December 2014 (<350 cells/µL), 1 January 2015 to 31 August 2016 (<500 cells/µL). We estimated care uptake based on service attendance, and modelled associations for men and women with ART initiation and overall, pre‐ART and ART mortality. Separate Cox proportional hazard models were built for each outcome and eligibility period, adjusted for tuberculosis, pregnancy, CD4 count and age. Results Adult men made up 49% of the population and constituted 37% of those living with HIV. In 2009, 46% of men living with HIV attended health services, rising to 67% by 2015 compared to 54% and 77% of women respectively. Men contributed <35% of all CD4 cell counts over 10 years and presented with more advanced disease (39% of all first presentation CD4 cell counts from men were <200 cells/µL compared to 25% in women). ART access was lower in men compared to women (AHR 0.79 (0.77 to 0.80) summarized for Period 2) over the entire study). Mortality was greater in men irrespective of ART (AHR 1.08 (1.01 to 1.16) Period 3) and after ART start (AHR 1.15 (1.05 to 1.20) Period 3) with mortality differences decreasing over time. Conclusions Compared to women, men presented with more advanced disease, were less likely to attend health care services annually, were less likely to initiate ART and had higher mortality overall and while receiving ART care. People living with HIV were more likely to initiate ART if they had acute reasons to access healthcare beyond HIV, such as being pregnant or being co‐infected with tuberculosis. Our findings point to missed opportunities for improving access to and outcomes from interventions for men along the entire HIV cascade.

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