To see all articles in this section, click on "browse by Title".

Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • Measuring linkage to HIV treatment services following HIV self-testing in low-income settings

    Choko, AT; Jamil, MS; MacPherson, P; Corbett, E; Chitembo, L; Ingold, H; Bermudez Aza, E; d'Elbee, M; DiCarlo, M; Majam, M; et al. (Wiley, 2020-06-24)
  • HIV epidemic and cascade of care in 12 east African rural fishing communities: results from a population-based survey in Uganda

    Burgos-Soto, J; Farhat, JB; Alley, I; Ojuka, P; Mulogo, E; Kise-Sete, T; Bouhenia, M; Salumu, L; Mathela, R; Langendorf, C; et al. (BMC, 2020-06-19)
    Background In East Africa, fishing communities are considered most-at-risk populations for the acquisition of HIV. We estimated HIV prevalence and assessed progress towards the UNAIDS 90–90-90 targets along the HIV treatment cascade in 12 fishing communities surrounding Lakes Edward and George, Uganda. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional household-based survey between September and November 2016. All adults between 15 and 69 years old were eligible to participate. Children below 15 years old were eligible for HIV testing if either parent was HIV-positive. Viral load testing was done for all HIV-infected individuals. Logistic regression models adjusted for sociodemographic-behavioral variables were used to assess the association between occupation and HIV positivity. Results Overall, 1738 adults (959 women, 779 men) and 148 children were included. Adult inclusion rate was 96.0%. Of the men, 58% reported to be fishermen. The HIV-prevalence among adults was 17.5% (95%CI: 15.8–19.4) and 6.1% (95%CI: 3.1–11.4) among HIV-exposed children. HIV prevalence was higher among women than among men (20.9% vs. 13.5%, p < 0.001). Among men, fishermen had a higher HIV prevalence (18.7%; 95%CI: 15.1–22.3) and a higher risk of being HIV-positive (aOR: 4.2; 95%CI: 2.0–9.1) than men of other occupations (p < 0.001). Progress towards the UNAIDS 90–90-90 targets was as follows: 86.5% (95%CI: 82.3–90.1%) of the HIV-positive participants were diagnosed, 98.7% (95%CI: 96.1–99.6%) of those aware were on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 87.3% (95%CI: 82.3–91.0%) of those on ART were virally suppressed. Overall, 73% of all HIV-positive individuals were virally suppressed. Viral suppression was lower among individuals 15–24 years (45.5%) than among those 25–44 years (74.0%) and 45–69 years (85.0%), p < 0.001. Fishermen did not to have significant differences in the HIV cascade of care compared to men with other occupations. Conclusions HIV prevalence was high in these fishing communities, particularly among women and fishermen. Important progress has been made along the HIV treatment cascade, and the UNAIDS goal for viral suppression in population was achieved. However, gaps remain and HIV care strategies focusing on young people are urgently needed. HIV preventive interventions should target particularly women, young people and fishermen though HIV preventive and care services should remain available to the whole fishing communities.
  • Ambulatory management of pre- and extensively drug resistant tuberculosis patients with imipenem delivered through port-a-cath: A mixed methods study on treatment outcomes and challenges

    Chavan, VV; Dalal, A; Nagaraja, S; Thekkur, P; Mansoor, H; Meneguim, A; Paryani, R; Singh, P; Kalon, S; Das, M; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-06-16)
    Background Imipenem, an intravenous antibiotic is recommended for use in drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) when an effective regimen with combination of other second line drugs is not possible. Though the treatment success rates with carbapenems are promising, the twice daily injection of Imipenem usually requires patients to be hospitalized. The Médecins Sans Frontières independent clinic in Mumbai, India implemented ambulatory and home based management of patients receiving Imipenem through the use of port-a-cath. Objective We aimed to describe the adverse events and treatment outcomes of ambulatory pre- and XDR-TB patients initiated on imipenem through port-a-cath between January 2015 and June 2018 and to explore the challenges with this regimen as perceived by healthcare providers and patients. Methods A convergent mixed methods study with quantitative (longitudinal descriptive study using the routine data) and qualitative (descriptive study) part conducted concurrently. For the quantitative component, all XDR-TB and pre-XDR-TB initiated on imipenem containing regimen during January 2015-June 2018 were included. For qualitative component, interviews were carried out including patients who initiated on imipenem (n = 5) and healthcare providers (n = 7) involved in providing treatment. Treatment outcomes, culture conversion and adverse events during treatment were described. Thematic analysis was carried out for qualitative component. Results Of the 70 patients included, the mean age was 28.1 (standard deviation: 11.2) years and 36 (51.4%) were females. Fifty one (72.9%) had XDR-TB. All patients were resistant to fluoroquinilone, levofloxacin. Vomiting was reported by 55 (78.6%) patients and at least one episode of QTC prolongation (more than 500 msec by Fredrecia method) was detected in 25 (35.7%). Port-a-cath block and infection was seen in 11 (15.7%) and 20 (28.6%) patients respectively. Favourable outcomes were seen in 43 (61.4%) patients. Mortality was seen in 22 (31.4%) patients, 2 (2.9%) were lost-to-follow-up and 3 (4.3%) were declared as treatment failure. The overarching theme of the qualitative analysis was: Challenges in delivering Imipenem via port-a-cath device in ambulatory care. Major challenges identified were difficulties in adhering to drug dose timelines, vomiting, restricted mobility due to port-a-cath, paucity of infection control and space constraints at patients’ home for optimal care. Conclusion Administration of imipenem was feasible through port-a-cath. Though outcomes with ambulatory based imipenem containing regimens were promising, there were several challenges in providing care. The feasibility of infusion at day care facilities needs to explored to overcome challenges in infusion at patients home.
  • Framework for the implementation of advanced HIV disease diagnostics in sub-Saharan Africa: programmatic perspectives

    Ndlovu, Z; Burton, R; Stewart, R; Bygrave, H; Roberts, T; Fajardo, E; Mataka, A; Szumilin, E; Kerschberger, B; van Cutsem, G; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-05-27)
    Patients with advanced HIV disease have a high risk of mortality, mainly from tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis. The advanced HIV disease management package recommended by WHO, which includes diagnostics, therapeutics, and patient psychosocial support, is barely implemented in many different countries. Here, we present a framework for the implementation of advanced HIV disease diagnostics. Laboratory and point-of-care-based reflex testing, coupled with provider-initiated requested testing, for cryptococcal antigen and urinary Mycobacterium tuberculosis lipoarabinomannan antigen, should be done for all patients with CD4+ cell counts of 200 cells per μL or less. Implementation of the advanced HIV disease package should be encouraged within primary health-care facilities and task shifting of testing to lay cadres could facilitate access to rapid results. Implementation of differentiated antiretroviral therapy delivery models can allow clinicians enough time to focus on the management of patients with advanced HIV disease. Efficient up-referral and post-discharge systems, including the development of patient-centric advanced HIV disease literacy, are also crucial. Implementation of the advanced HIV disease package is feasible at all health-care levels, and it should be part of the core of the global response towards ending AIDS as a public health threat.
  • Long-term virologic responses to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive patients entering adherence clubs in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa: a longitudinal analysis

    Kehoe, K; Boulle, A; Tsondai, PR; Euvrard, J; Davies, MA; Cornell, M (Wiley, 2020-05-14)
    Introduction In South Africa, an estimated 4.6 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2018. As universal Test and Treat is implemented, these numbers will continue to increase. Given the need for lifelong care for millions of individuals, differentiated service delivery models for ART services such as adherence clubs (ACs) for stable patients are required. In this study, we describe long‐term virologic outcomes of patients who have ever entered ACs in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Methods We included adult patients enrolled in ACs in Khayelitsha between January 2011 and December 2016 with a recorded viral load (VL) before enrolment. Risk factors for an elevated VL (VL >1000 copies/mL) and confirmed virologic failure (two consecutive VLs >1000 copies/mL one year apart) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models. VL completeness over time was assessed. Results Overall, 8058 patients were included in the analysis, contributing 16,047 person‐years of follow‐up from AC entry (median follow‐up time 1.7 years, interquartile range [IQR]:0.9 to 2.9). At AC entry, 74% were female, 46% were aged between 35 and 44 years, and the median duration on ART was 4.8 years (IQR: 3.0 to 7.2). Among patients virologically suppressed at AC entry (n = 8058), 7136 (89%) had a subsequent VL test, of which 441 (6%) experienced an elevated VL (median time from AC entry 363 days, IQR: 170 to 728). Older age (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.64, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.46 to 0.88), more recent year of AC entry (aHR 0.76, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.84) and higher CD4 count (aHR 0.67, 95% CI 0.54 to 0.84) were protective against experiencing an elevated VL. Among patients with an elevated VL, 52% (150/291) with a repeat VL test subsequently experienced confirmed virologic failure in a median time of 112 days (IQR: 56 to 168). Frequency of VL testing was constant over time (82 to 85%), with over 90% of patients remaining virologically suppressed. Conclusions This study demonstrates low prevalence of elevated VLs and confirmed virologic failure among patients who entered ACs. Although ACs were expanded rapidly, most patients were well monitored and remained stable, supporting the continued rollout of this model.
  • The Enduring Burden of Advanced Human Immunodeficiency Virus Disease

    Ford, N; Goemaere, E; Hildebrand, K; Perez-Casas, C (Oxford University Press, 2020-05-05)
  • Routine viral load monitoring and enhanced adherence counselling at a public ART centre in Mumbai, India

    Laxmeshwar, C; Acharya, S; Das, M; Keskar, P; Pazare, A; Ingole, N; Mehta, P; Gori, P; Mansoor, H; Kalon, S; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-05-05)
    Background Routine viral-load (VL) measurements along with enhanced adherence counselling (EAC) are recommended to achieve virological suppression among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). The Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society along with Médecins Sans Frontières has provided routine VL measurements and EAC to PLHA on ART at King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital, Mumbai since October-2016. This study aims to describe the initial VL results and impact of EAC on viral suppression and factors associated with initial viral non-suppression among patients with an initial detectable VL, in a cohort of patients tested between October-2016 and September-2018. Methods This is a descriptive study of PLHA on ART who received VL testing and EAC during October-2016 to September-2018. Log-binomial regression was used to identify factors associated with a high VL. Results Among 3849 PLHA who underwent VL testing, 1603(42%) were female and median age was 42 years (IQR:35–48). Majority were referred for routine testing (3432(89%)) and clinical/immunological failure (233(6%)). Overall, 3402(88%) PLHA had suppressed VL at initial testing. Among 3432 tested for routine monitoring, 3141(92%) had VL suppressed. Of 291 with VL>1000c/ml, 253(87%) received EAC and after repeat VL, 70(28%) had VL<1000c/ml. Among 233 referred for clinical/immunological failure, 122(52%) had VL>1000c/ml and 109 have been switched to second-line ART. CD4 count<500 (aOR-5.0[95%CI 3.8–6.5]), on ART for<5 years (aOR-1.5[1.1–2.0]) and age<15 years (aOR-5.2[3.0–8.9]) were associated with an initial VL>1000c/ml. Factors associated with follow-up VL suppression included EAC (p<0.05) and being on second-line ART (p<0.05). Conclusion Results from a routine VL program in public sector in India were encouraging and in line with UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. Routine VL monitoring along with EAC resulted in early switch to alternative optimised regimens while also preventing unnecessary switches. Along with the vital scale up of routine VL monitoring, implementation of enhanced adherence strategies for patients with detectable viral load should be ensured.
  • Diagnostic performance and usability of the VISITECT CD4 semi-quantitative test for advanced HIV disease screening

    Ndlovu, Z; Massaquoi, L; Bangwen, NE; Batumba, JN; Bora, RU; Mbuaya, J; Nzadi, R; Ntabugi, N; Kisaka, P; Manciya, G; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-04-03)
    BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan Africa, a third of people starting antiretroviral therapy and majority of patients returning to HIV-care after disengagement, present with advanced HIV disease (ADH), and are at high risk of mortality. Simplified and more affordable point-of-care (POC) diagnostics are required to increase access to prompt CD4 cell count screening for ambulatory and asymptomatic patients. The Visitect CD4 Lateral Flow Assay (LFA) is a disposable POC test, providing a visually interpreted result of above or below 200 CD4cells/mm3. This study evaluated the diagnostic performance of this index test. METHODS: Consenting patients above 18years of age and eligible for CD4 testing were enrolled in Nsanje district hospital (Malawi), Gutu mission hospital (Zimbabwe) and Centre hopitalier de Kabinda (DRC). A total of 708 venous blood samples were tested in the index test and in the BD FACSCount assay (reference test method) in the laboratories (Phase 1) to determine diagnostic accuracy. A total of 433 finger-prick (FP) samples were tested on the index test at POC by clinicians (Phase 2) and a self-completed questionnaire was administered to all testers to explore usability of the index test. RESULTS: Among 708 patients, 67.2% were female and median CD4 was 297cells/mm3. The sensitivity of the Visitect CD4 LFA using venous blood in the laboratory was 95.0% [95% CI: 91.3-97.5] and specificity was 81.9% [95% CI: 78.2-85.2%]. Using FP samples, the sensitivity of the Visitect CD4 LFA was 98.3% [95% CI: 95.0-99.6] and specificity was 77.2% [95% CI: 71.6-82.2%]. Usability of the Visitect CD4 LFA was high across the study sites with 97% successfully completed tests. Due to the required specific multiple incubation and procedural steps during the Visitect CD4 LFA testing, few health workers (7/26) were not confident to manage testing whilst multi-tasking in their clinical work. CONCLUSIONS: Visitect CD4 LFA is a promising test for decentralized CD4 screening in resource-limited settings, without access to CD4 testing and and it can trigger prompt management of patients with AHD. Lay health cadres should be considered to conduct Visitect CD4 LFA testing in PHCs as well as coordinating all other POC quality assurance.
  • Implementation of community and facility-based HIV self-testing under routine conditions in southern Eswatini

    Pasipamire, L; Nesbitt, R; Dube, L; Mabena, E; Nzima, M; Dlamini, M; Rugongo, N; Maphalala, N; Obulutsa, TA; Ciglenecki, I; et al. (Wiley, 2020-03-27)
    OBJECTIVES: WHO recommends HIV self-testing (HIVST) as an additional approach to HIV testing services. The study describes the strategies used during phase-in of HIVST under routine conditions in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). METHODS: Between May 2017 and January 2018, assisted and unassisted oral HIVST was offered at HIV testing services (HTS) sites to people aged ≥ 16 years. Additional support tools were available, including a telephone hotline answered 24/7, HIVST demonstration videos and printed educational information about HIV prevention and care services. Demographic characteristics of HIVST users were described and compared with standard blood-based HTS in the community. HIVST results were monitored with follow-up phone calls and the hotline. RESULTS: During the 9-month period, 1895 people accessed HIVST and 2415 HIVST kits were distributed. More people accessed HIVST kits in the community (n = 1365, 72.0%) than at health facilities (n = 530, 28.0%). The proportion of males and median age among those accessing HIVST and standard HTS in the community were similar (49.3%, 29 years HIVST vs. 48.7%, 27 years standard HTS). In total, 34 (3.9%) reactive results were reported from 938 people with known HIVST results; 32.4% were males, and median age was 30 years (interquartile range 25-36). Twenty-one (62%) patients were known to have received confirmatory blood-based HTS; of these, 20 (95%) had concordant reactive results and 19 (95%) were linked to HIV care at a clinic. CONCLUSION: Integration of HIVST into existing HIV facility- and community-based testing strategies in Eswatini was found to be feasible, and HIVST has been adopted by national testing bodies in Eswatini.

View more