• Baseline characteristics, response to and outcome of antiretroviral therapy among patients with HIV-1, HIV-2 and dual infection in Burkina Faso.

      Harries, Katie; Zachariah, Rony; Manzi, Marcel; Firmenich, Peter; Mathela, Richard; Drabo, Joseph; Onadja, G; Arnould, Line; Harries, A D; Médecins Sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Center, 68 Rue de Gasperich, L-1617, Luxembourg. (2009-09-22)
      In an urban district hospital in Burkina Faso we investigated the relative proportions of HIV-1, HIV-2 and HIV-1/2 among those tested, the baseline sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, and the response to and outcome of antiretroviral therapy (ART). A total of 7368 individuals (male=32%; median age=34 years) were included in the analysis over a 6 year period (2002-2008). The proportions of HIV-1, HIV-2 and dual infection were 94%, 2.5% and 3.6%, respectively. HIV-1-infected individuals were younger, whereas HIV-2-infected individuals were more likely to be male, have higher CD4 counts and be asymptomatic on presentation. ART was started in 4255 adult patients who were followed up for a total of 8679 person-years, during which time 469 deaths occurred. Mortality differences by serotype were not statistically significant, but were generally worse for HIV-2 and HIV-1/2 after controlling for age, CD4 count and WHO stage. Among severely immune-deficient patients, mortality was higher for HIV-2 than HIV-1. CD4 count recovery was poorest for HIV-2. HIV-2 and dually infected patients appeared to do less well on ART than HIV-1 patients. Reasons may include differences in age at baseline, lower intrinsic immune recovery in HIV-2, use of ineffective ART regimens (inappropriate prescribing) by clinicians, and poor drug adherence.
    • Diagnosis and management of antiretroviral-therapy failure in resource-limited settings in sub-Saharan Africa: challenges and perspectives.

      Harries, Anthony D; Zachariah, Rony; van Oosterhout, Joep J; Reid, Steven D; Hosseinipour, Mina C; Arendt, Vic; Chirwa, Zengani; Jahn, Andreas; Schouten, Erik J; Kamoto, Kelita; International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France. adharries@theunion.org (2010-01)
      Despite the enormous progress made in scaling up antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa, many challenges remain, not least of which are the identification and management of patients who have failed first-line therapy. Less than 3% of patients are receiving second-line treatment at present, whereas 15-25% of patients have detectable viral loads 12 months or more into treatment, of whom a substantial proportion might have virological failure. We discuss the reasons why virological ART failure is likely to be under-diagnosed in the routine health system, and address the current difficulties with standard recommended second-line ART regimens. The development of new diagnostic tools for ART failure, in particular a point-of-care HIV viral-load test, combined with simple and inexpensive second-line therapy, such as boosted protease-inhibitor monotherapy, could revolutionise the management of ART failure in resource-limited settings.
    • High survival and treatment success sustained after two and three years of first-line ART for children in Cambodia.

      Isaakidis, Petros; Raguenaud, Marie-Eve; Te, Vantha; Tray, Chhraing S; Akao, Kazumi; Kumar, Varun; Ngin, Sopheak; Nerrienet, Eric; Zachariah, Rony; Médecins Sans Frontières, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. petrosisaakidis@yahoo.com. (2010-04)
      ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Long-term outcomes of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in children remain poorly documented in resource-limited settings. The objective of this study was to assess two-and three-year survival, CD4 evolution and virological response among children on ART in a programmatic setting in Cambodia. METHODS: Children treated with first-line ART for at least 24 months were assessed with viral load testing and genotyping. We used Kaplan-Meier analysis for survival and Cox regression to identify risk factors associated with treatment failure. RESULTS: Of 1168 registered HIV-positive children, 670 (57%) started ART between January 2003 and December 2007. Survival probability was 0.93 (95% CI: 0.91-0.95) and 0.91 (95% CI: 0.88-0.93) at 24 and 36 months after ART initiation, respectively. Median CD4 gain for children aged over five years was 704 cells/mm3 at 24 months and 737 at 36 months. Median CD4 percentage gain for children under five years old was 15.2% at 24 months and 15% at 36 months. One hundred and thirty children completed at least 24 months of ART, and 138 completed 36 months: 128 out of 268 (48%) were female. Median age at ART initiation was six years.Overall, 22 children had viral loads of >1000 copies/ml (success ratio = 86% on intention-to-treat-analysis) and 21 of 21 presented mutations conferring resistance mostly to lamivudine and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Risk factors for failure after 24 and 36 months were CD4 counts below the threshold for severe immunosupression at those months respectively. Only two out of 22 children with viral loads of >1000 copies/ml met the World Health Organization immunological criteria for failure (sensitivity = 0.1). CONCLUSIONS: Good survival, immunological restoration and viral suppression can be sustained after two to three years of ART among children in resource-constrained settings. Increased access to routine virological measurements is needed for timely diagnosis of treatment failure.
    • HIV and tuberculosis--science and implementation to turn the tide and reduce deaths.

      Harries, Anthony D; Lawn, Stephen D; Getahun, Haileyesus; Zachariah, Rony; Havlir, Diane V; International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France. adharries@theunion.org (2012-10)
      Every year, HIV-associated tuberculosis (TB) deprives 350,000 mainly young people of productive and healthy lives.People die because TB is not diagnosed and treated in those with known HIV infection and HIV infection is not diagnosed in those with TB. Even in those in whom both HIV and TB are diagnosed and treated, this often happens far too late. These deficiencies can be addressed through the application of new scientific evidence and diagnostic tools.
    • The HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa: thinking ahead on programmatic tasks and related operational research

      Zachariah, Rony; Van Damme, Wim; Arendt, Vic; Schmit, Jean; Harries, Anthony D (2011)
    • Mortality reduction associated with HIV/AIDS care and antiretroviral treatment in rural Malawi: evidence from registers, coffin sales and funerals.

      Mwagomba, Beatrice; Zachariah, Rony; Massaquoi, Moses; Misindi, Dalitso; Manzi, Marcel; Mandere, Bester C; Bemelmans, Marielle; Philips, Mit; Kamoto, Kelita; Schouten, Eric J; Harries, A D; Thyolo District Health Services, Ministry of Health and Population, Thyolo, Malawi. (2010-05)
      BACKGROUND: To report on the trend in all-cause mortality in a rural district of Malawi that has successfully scaled-up HIV/AIDS care including antiretroviral treatment (ART) to its population, through corroborative evidence from a) registered deaths at traditional authorities (TAs), b) coffin sales and c) church funerals. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Retrospective study in 5 of 12 TAs (covering approximately 50% of the population) during the period 2000-2007. A total of 210 villages, 24 coffin workshops and 23 churches were included. There were a total of 18,473 registered deaths at TAs, 15781 coffins sold, and 2762 church funerals. Between 2000 and 2007, there was a highly significant linear downward trend in death rates, sale of coffins and church funerals (X(2) for linear trend: 338.4 P<0.0001, 989 P<0.0001 and 197, P<0.0001 respectively). Using data from TAs as the most reliable source of data on deaths, overall death rate reduction was 37% (95% CI:33-40) for the period. The mean annual incremental death rate reduction was 0.52/1000/year. Death rates decreased over time as the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS enrolled into care and ART increased. Extrapolating these data to the entire district population, an estimated 10,156 (95% CI: 9786-10259) deaths would have been averted during the 8-year period. CONCLUSIONS: Registered deaths at traditional authorities, the sale of coffins and church funerals showed a significant downward trend over a 8-year period which we believe was associated with the scaling up HIV/AIDS care and ART.
    • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the health-related Millennium Development Goals: time for a public health approach.

      Schouten, Erik J; Jahn, Andreas; Midiani, Dalitso; Makombe, Simon D; Mnthambala, Austin; Chirwa, Zengani; Harries, Anthony D; van Oosterhout, Joep J; Meguid, Tarek; Ben-Smith, Anne; Zachariah, Rony; Lynen, Lutgarde; Zolfo, Maria; Van Damme, Wim; Gilks, Charles F; Atun, Rifat; Shawa, Mary; Chimbwandira, Frank; Department of HIV and AIDS, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi. eschouten@msh.org (2011-07-16)
    • Providing universal access to antiretroviral therapy in Thyolo, Malawi through task shifting and decentralization of HIV/AIDS care.

      Bemelmans, Marielle; Van Den Akker, Thomas; Ford, Nathan; Philips, Mit; Zachariah, Rony; Harries, Anthony; Schouten, Erik; Hermann, Katharina; Mwagomba, Beatrice; Massaquoi, Moses; Médecins Sans Frontières, Blantyre, Malawi  Médecins Sans Frontières, Cape Town, South Africa  Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, University of Cape Town, South Africa  Médecins Sans Frontières, Brussels, Belgium  International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases, Paris, France  Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi and Management Sciences for Health, Lilongwe, Malawi  Institute for Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium  District Health Office, Thyolo, Malawi. (2010-12)
      Objective  To describe how district-wide access to HIV/AIDS care was achieved and maintained in Thyolo District, Malawi. Method  In mid-2003, the Ministry of Health and Médecins Sans Frontières developed a model of care for Thyolo district (population 587 455) based on decentralization of care to health centres and community sites and task shifting. Results  After delegating HIV testing and counseling to lay counsellors, uptake of testing increased from 1300 tests per month in 2003 to 6500 in 2009. Shifting responsibility for antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiations to non-physician clinicians almost doubled ART enrolment, with a majority of initiations performed in peripheral health centres. By the end 2009, 23 261 people had initiated ART of whom 11 042 received ART care at health-centre level. By the end of 2007, the universal access targets were achieved, with nearly 9000 patients alive and on ART. The average annual cost for achieving these targets was €2.6 per inhabitant/year. Conclusion  The Thyolo programme has demonstrated the feasibility of district-wide access to ART in a setting with limited resources for health. Expansion and decentralization of HIV/AIDS service-capacity to the primary care level, combined with task shifting, resulted in increased access to HIV services with good programme outcomes despite staff shortages.
    • Risk factors for mortality in AIDS-associated Kaposi sarcoma in a primary care antiretroviral treatment program in Malawi

      Chu, Kathryn; Misinde, Dalitso; Massaquoi, Moses; Pasulani, Olesi; Mwagomba, Beatrice; Ford, Nathan; Zachariah, Rony (2010-04)
    • Short and long term retention in antiretroviral care in health facilities in rural Malawi and Zimbabwe.

      Rasschaert, Freya; Koole, Olivier; Zachariah, Rony; Lynen, Lut; Manzi, Marcel; Van Damme, Wim; Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationale straat 155, Antwerpen 2000, Belgium. frasschaert@itg.be (2012-12)
      Despite the successful scale-up of ART services over the past years, long term retention in ART care remains a major challenge, especially in high HIV prevalence and resource-limited settings. This study analysed the short (<12 months) and long (>12 months) term retention on ART in two ART programmes in Malawi (Thyolo district) and Zimbabwe (Buhera district).
    • Six-Month Mortality among HIV-Infected Adults Presenting for Antiretroviral Therapy with Unexplained Weight Loss, Chronic Fever or Chronic Diarrhea in Malawi.

      van Lettow, Monique; Akesson, Ann; Martiniuk, Alexandra L C; Ramsay, Andrew; Chan, Adrienne K; Anderson, Suzanne T; Harries, Anthony D; Corbett, Elizabeth; Heyderman, Robert S; Zachariah, Rony; Bedell, Richard A; Dignitas International, Zomba, Malawi ; University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. (2012-11)
      In sub-Saharan Africa, early mortality is high following initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). We investigated 6-month outcomes and factors associated with mortality in HIV-infected adults being assessed for ART initiation and presenting with weight loss, chronic fever or diarrhea, and with negative TB sputum microscopy.
    • Strategies to improve patient retention on antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa.

      Harries, Anthony D; Zachariah, Rony; Lawn, Stephen D; Rosen, Sydney; International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France. adharries@theunion.org (2010-06)
      The scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been one of the success stories of sub-Saharan Africa, where coverage has increased from about 2% in 2003 to more than 40% 5 years later. However, tempering this success is a growing concern about patient retention (the proportion of patients who are alive and remaining on ART in the health system). Based on the personal experience of the authors, 10 key interventions are presented and discussed that might help to improve patient retention. These are (1) the need for simple and standardized monitoring systems to track what is happening, (2) reliable ascertainment of true outcomes of patients lost to follow-up, (3) implementation of measures to reduce early mortality in patients both before and during ART, (4) ensuring uninterrupted drug supplies, (5) consideration of simple, non-toxic ART regimens, (6) decentralization of ART care to health centres and the community, (7) a reduction in indirect costs for patients particularly in relation to transport to and from clinics, (8) strengthening links within and between health services and the community, (9) the use of ART clinics to deliver other beneficial patient or family-orientated packages of care such as insecticide-treated bed nets, and (10) innovative (thinking 'out of the box') interventions. High levels of retention on ART are vital for individual patients, for credibility of programmes and for on-going resource and financial support.
    • Tracing patients on antiretroviral treatment lost-to-follow-up in an urban slum in India

      Errol, Lisa; Isaakidis, Petros; Zachariah, Rony; Ali, Mohammed; Pilankar, Gurudas; Maurya, Sanjana; Geraets, Claudia; Ladomirska, Joanna; Patel, Sunil; Reid, Tony (Blackwell, 2012-01)
    • Unacceptable attrition among WHO stages 1 and 2 patients in a hospital-based setting in rural Malawi: can we retain such patients within the general health system?

      Tayler-Smith, Katie; Zachariah, Rony; Massaquoi, M; Massaquoi, M; Manzi, Marcel; Pasulani, Olesi; van den Akker, Thomas; Bemelmans, Marielle; Bauernfeind, Ariane; Mwagomba, Beatrice; Harries, Anthony D; Médecins sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Center, 68 Rue de Gasperich, L-1617, Luxembourg. (2010-05)
      A study conducted among HIV-positive adults in WHO clinical stages 1 and 2 was followed up at Thyolo District Hospital (rural Malawi) to report on: (1) retention and attrition before and while on antiretroviral treatment (ART); and (2) the criteria used for initiating ART. Between June 2008 and January 2009, 1633 adults in WHO stages 1 and 2 were followed up for a total of 282 person-years. Retention in care at 1, 2, 3 and 6 months for those not on ART (n=1078) was 25, 18, 11 and 4% vs. 99, 97, 95 and 90% for patients who started ART (n=555, P=0.001). Attrition rates were 31 times higher among patients not started on ART compared with those started on ART (adjusted hazard ratio, 31.0, 95% CI 22-44). Ninety-two patients in WHO stage 1 or 2 were started on ART without the guidance of a CD4 count, and 11 were incorrectly started on ART with CD4 count > or = 250 cells/mm(3). In a rural district hospital setting in Malawi, attrition of individuals in WHO stages 1 and 2 is unacceptably high, and specific operational strategies need to be considered to retain such patients in the health system.
    • Using touchscreen electronic medical record systems to support and monitor national scale-up of antiretroviral therapy in Malawi.

      Douglas, Gerald P; Gadabu, Oliver J; Joukes, Sabine; Mumba, Soyapi; McKay, Michael V; Ben-Smith, Anne; Jahn, Andreas; Schouten, Erik J; Landis Lewis, Zach; van Oosterhout, Joep J; Allain, Theresa J; Zachariah, Rony; Berger, Selma D; Harries, Anthony D; Chimbwandira, Frank; Baobab Health Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi. gdouglas@baobabhealth.org (2010-09)
    • Very early mortality in patients starting antiretroviral treatment at primary health centres in rural Malawi.

      Zachariah, Rony; Harries, Katie; Moses, Massaquoi; Manzi, Marcel; Line, Arnould; Mwagomba, Beatrice; Harries, Anthony D; Medecins Sans Frontieres, Medical Department, Brussels, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (2009-07-15)
      OBJECTIVES: To report on the cumulative proportion of deaths occurring within 3 months of starting antiretroviral treatment (ART) and to identify factors associated with such deaths, among adults at primary health centres in a rural district of Malawi. METHODS: Retrospective cohort study: from June 2006 to April 2008, deaths occurring over a 3-month period were determined and risk factors examined. RESULTS: A total of 2316 adults (706 men and 1610 women; median age 35 years) were included in the analysis and followed up for a total of 1588 person-years (PY); 277 (12%) people died, of whom 206 (74%) people died within 3 months of initiating ART (cumulative incidence: 13.0; 95% confidence interval: 11.3-14.8 per 100 PY of follow-up). Significant risk factors associated with early deaths included male sex, WHO stage 4 disease, oesophageal or persistent oral candidiasis and unexplained presumed or measured weight loss >10%. One in every 3 patients who either died or was lost to follow up had unexplained weight loss >10%, and survival in this group was significantly different from patients without this condition. CONCLUSIONS: Seven in 10 individuals initiating ART at primary health centres die early. Specific groups of patients are at higher risk of such mortality and should receive priority attention, care and support.
    • Weight loss after the first year of stavudine-containing antiretroviral therapy and its association with lipoatrophy, virological failure, adherence and CD4 counts at primary health care level in Kigali, Rwanda.

      van Griensven, Johan; Zachariah, Rony; Mugabo, Jules; Reid, Tony; Médecins Sans Frontières, Operational Centre Brussels, Medical Department, Duprestraat 94, 1090 Brussels, Belgium. jvgrie@yahoo.com (2010-12)
      This study was conducted among 609 adults on stavudine-based antiretroviral treatment (ART) for at least one year at health center level in Kigali, Rwanda to (a) determine the proportion who manifest weight loss after one year of ART (b) examine the association between such weight loss and a number of variables, namely: lipoatrophy, virological failure, adherence and on-treatment CD4 count and (c) assess the validity and predictive values of weight loss to identify patients with lipoatrophy. Weight loss after the first year of ART was seen in 62% of all patients (median weight loss 3.1 kg/year). In multivariate analysis, weight loss was significantly associated with treatment-limiting lipoatrophy (adjusted effect/kg/year -2.0 kg, 95% confidence interval -0.6;-3.4 kg; P<0.01). No significant association was found with virological failure or adherence. Higher on-treatment CD4 cell counts were protective against weight loss. Weight loss that was persistent, progressive and/or chronic was predictive of lipoatrophy, with a sensitivity and specificity of 72% and 77%, and positive and negative predictive values of 30% and 95%. In low-income countries, measuring weight is a routine clinical procedure that could be used to filter out individuals with lipoatrophy on stavudine-based ART, after alternative causes of weight loss have been ruled out.