• Earlier versus later start of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected adults with tuberculosis.

      Blanc, F-X; Sok, T; Laureillard, D; Borand, L; Rekacewicz, C; Nerrienet, E; Madec, Y; Marcy, O; Chan, S; Prak, N; Kim, C; Lak, K K; Hak, C; Dim, B; Sin, C I; Sun, S; Guillard, B; Sar, B; Vong, S; Fernandez, M; Fox, L; Delfraissy, J-F; Goldfeld, A E; Pneumology Unit, Internal Medicine Department, Bicêtre Hospital, Assistance Publique–Hôpitaux de Paris, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France. xavier.blanc@bct.aphp.fr (2011-10-20)
      Tuberculosis remains an important cause of death among patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Robust data are lacking with regard to the timing for the initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in relation to the start of antituberculosis therapy.
    • Early adherence to antiretroviral medication as a predictor of long-term HIV virological suppression: five-year follow up of an observational cohort.

      Ford, Nathan; Darder, Marta; Spelman, Tim; Maclean, Emi; Mills, Edward; Boulle, Andrew; Médecins Sans Frontières, Cape Town, South Africa. nathan.ford@joburg.msf.org (2010-05)
      OBJECTIVE: Previous studies have demonstrated a cross-sectional relationship between antiretroviral adherence and HIV virological suppression. We assessed the predictive value of baseline adherence in determining long-term virological failure. DESIGN: We assessed baseline adherence via an adherence questionnaire between administered to all consenting patients attending antiretroviral clinics in Khayelitsha township, South Africa, between May 2002 and March 2004. Virological status was ascertained after five years of follow up and multivariate analysis used to model associations of baseline variables and medication adherence with time to viral suppression or failure. RESULTS: Our adherence cohort comprised 207 patients, among whom 72% were female. Median age was 30 years and median CD4 count at initiation was 55 cells/mm(3). We found no statistically significant differences between baseline characteristics and early adherence groups. Multivariate analysis adjusting for baseline CD4 and age found that patients with suboptimal baseline adherence had a hazard ratio of 2.82 (95% CI 1.19-6.66, p = 0.018) for progression to virological failure compared to those whose baseline adherence was considered optimal. CONCLUSIONS: Our longitudinal study provides further confirmation of adherence as a primary determinant of subsequent confirmed virological failure, and serves as a reminder of the importance of initial early investments in adherence counseling and support as an effective way to maximize long-term treatment success.
    • Early Antiretroviral Therapy initiation: Access and Equity of Viral Load Testing for HIV Treatment Monitoring

      Peter, T; Ellenberger, D; Kim, AA; Boeras, D; Messele, T; Roberts, T; Stevens, W; Jani, I; Abimiku, A; Ford, N; Katz, Z; Nkengasong, JN (Elsevier, 2016-10-20)
      Scaling up access to HIV viral load testing for individuals undergoing antiretroviral therapy in low-resource settings is a global health priority, as emphasised by research showing the benefits of suppressed viral load for the individual and the whole population. Historically, large-scale diagnostic test implementation has been slow and incomplete because of service delivery and other challenges. Building on lessons from the past, in this Personal View we propose a new framework to accelerate viral load scale-up and ensure equitable access to this essential test. The framework includes the following steps: (1) ensuring adequate financial investment in scaling up this test; (2) achieving pricing agreements and consolidating procurement to lower prices of the test; (3) strengthening functional tiered laboratory networks and systems to expand access to reliable, high-quality testing across countries; (4) strengthening national leadership, with prioritisation of laboratory services; and (5) demand creation and uptake of test results by clinicians, nurses, and patients, which will be vital in ensuring viral load tests are appropriately used to improve the quality of care. The use of dried blood spots to stabilise and ship samples from clinics to laboratories, and the use of point-of-care diagnostic tests, will also be important for ensuring access, especially in settings with reduced laboratory capacity. For countries that have just started to scale up viral load testing, lessons can be learnt from countries such as Botswana, Brazil, South Africa, and Thailand, which have already established viral load programmes. This framework might be useful for guiding the implementation of viral load with the aim of achieving the new global HIV 90-90-90 goals by 2020.
    • Early initiation of antiretroviral therapy and associated reduction in mortality, morbidity and defaulting in a nurse-managed, community cohort in Lesotho.

      Ford, Nathan; Kranzer, Katharina; Hilderbrand, Katherine; Jouquet, Guillaume; Goemaere, Eric; Vlahakis, Nathalie; Triviño, Laura; Makakole, Lipontso; Bygrave, Helen; Médecins Sans Frontières, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Nathan.ford@msf.org (2010-11-13)
      INTRODUCTION: The latest WHO guidelines recommend initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) at CD4 cell counts less than 350 cells/μl. However, donors and national governments are reluctant to support implementation owing to uncertainty regarding feasibility and relative benefit. Lesotho has supported earlier initiation since 2008. We assessed outcomes comparing early (CD4 cell counts >200 cells/μl) and late (CD4 cell counts ≤200 cells/μl) initiation. METHODS: We describe survival probability among patients initiating ART at CD4 cell counts 200 or less and more than 200 cells/μl and assess associations between baseline CD4 cell counts and mortality, morbidity, loss to follow-up and hospitalization using Cox regression adjusting for confounders identified a priori. RESULTS: Our analysis included 1177 patients; median age was 38 years and the majority (67%) were women. Median time on ART for the overall cohort was 506 days (interquartile range 396-608). Five hundred and thirty eight patients initiated ART at a CD4 cell count 200 cells/μl or less (interquartile range 54-160) and 639 patients initiated at CD4 cell count more than 200 cells/μl (interquartile range 238-321). In multivariate analysis, we found that patients initiating at CD4 cell count more than 200 cells/μl were 68% less likely to die (adjusted hazard ratio 0.32, 95% confidence interval 0.20-0.50), and 39% less likely to be lost to follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio 0.61, 95% confidence interval 0.43-0.87). Initiating ART at CD4 cell count more than 200 cells/μl was also associated with a 27% reduction in the rate of incident morbidity (adjusted hazard ratio 0.73, 95% confidence interval 0.65-0.82) and a 63% decreased rate of hospitalization (adjusted hazard ratio 0.37, 95% confidence interval 0.19-0.73). CONCLUSION: Earlier initiation is feasible in a low resource, high HIV prevalence setting, and provides important benefits in terms of reduced mortality, morbidity, retention and hospitalization. Donors should fully support the implementation of the latest WHO recommendations.
    • Early mortality and loss to follow-up in HIV-infected children starting antiretroviral therapy in Southern Africa.

      Fenner, Lukas; Brinkhof, Martin W G; Keiser, Olivia; Weigel, Ralf; Cornell, Morna; Moultrie, Harry; Prozesky, Hans; Technau, Karl; Eley, Brian; Vaz, Paula; Pascoe, Margaret; Giddy, Janet; Van Cutsem, Gilles; Wood, Robin; Egger, Matthias; Davies, Mary-Ann; Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland. lfenner@ispm.unibe.ch (2010-08-15)
      BACKGROUND: Many HIV-infected children in Southern Africa have been started on antiretroviral therapy (ART), but loss to follow up (LTFU) can be substantial. We analyzed mortality in children retained in care and in all children starting ART, taking LTFU into account. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Children who started ART before the age of 16 years in 10 ART programs in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe were included. Risk factors for death in the first year of ART were identified in Weibull models. A meta-analytic approach was used to estimate cumulative mortality at 1 year. RESULTS: Eight thousand two hundred twenty-five children (median age 49 months, median CD4 cell percent 11.6%) were included; 391 (4.8%) died and 523 (7.0%) were LTFU in the first year. Mortality at 1 year was 4.5% [95% confidence interval (CI): 2.8% to 7.4%] in children remaining in care, but 8.7% (5.4% to 12.1%) at the program level, after taking mortality in children and LTFU into account. Factors associated with mortality in children remaining in care included age [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 0.37; 95% CI: 0.25 to 0.54 comparing > or =120 months with <18 months], CD4 cell percent (HR: 0.56; 95% CI: 0.39 to 0.78 comparing > or =20% with <10%), and clinical stage (HR: 0.12; 95% CI: 0.03 to 0.45 comparing World Health Organization stage I with III/IV). CONCLUSIONS: In children starting ART and remaining in care in Southern Africa mortality at 1 year is <5% but almost twice as high at the program level, when taking LTFU into account. Age, CD4 percentage, and clinical stage are important predictors of mortality at the individual level.
    • Early warning indicators for first-line virologic failure independent of adherence measures in a South African urban clinic.

      Marconi, Vincent C; Wu, Baohua; Hampton, Jane; Ordóñez, Claudia E; Johnson, Brent A; Singh, Dinesh; John, Sally; Gordon, Michelle; Hare, Anna; Murphy, Richard; Nachega, Jean; Kuritzkes, Daniel R; Del Rio, Carlos; Sunpath, Henry; South Africa Resistance Cohort Study Team Group Authors (2013-12)
      Abstract We sought to develop individual-level Early Warning Indicators (EWI) of virologic failure (VF) for clinicians to use during routine care complementing WHO population-level EWI. A case-control study was conducted at a Durban clinic. Patients after≥5 months of first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) were defined as cases if they had VF [HIV-1 viral load (VL)>1000 copies/mL] and controls (2:1) if they had VL≤1000 copies/mL. Pharmacy refills and pill counts were used as adherence measures. Participants responded to a questionnaire including validated psychosocial and symptom scales. Data were also collected from the medical record. Multivariable logistic regression models of VF included factors associated with VF (p<0.05) in univariable analyses. We enrolled 158 cases and 300 controls. In the final multivariable model, male gender, not having an active religious faith, practicing unsafe sex, having a family member with HIV, not being pleased with the clinic experience, symptoms of depression, fatigue, or rash, low CD4 counts, family recommending HIV care, and using a TV/radio as ART reminders (compared to mobile phones) were associated with VF independent of adherence measures. In this setting, we identified several key individual-level EWI associated with VF including novel psychosocial factors independent of adherence measures.
    • Editorial: The AIDS crisis, cost-effectiveness and academic activism.

      Boelaert, M; Van Damme, W; Meessen, B; Van der Stuyft, P (2002-12)
    • Effect of Community ART Groups on Retention-In-Care Among Patients on ART in Tete Province, Mozambique: A Cohort Study

      Decroo, T; Telfer, B; Dores, C; White, R; Santos, N; Mkwamba, A; Dezembro, S; Joffrisse, M; Ellman, T; Metcalf, C (BMJ Publishing Group, 2017-08-11)
      Estimate the effect of participation in Community ART Groups (CAG) versus individual care on retention-in-care (RIC) on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
    • The Effect of Complete Integration of HIV and TB Services on Time to Initiation of Antiretroviral Therapy: A Before-After Study.

      Kerschberger, Bernhard; Hilderbrand, Katherine; Boulle, Andrew M; Coetzee, David; Goemaere, Eric; De Azevedo, Virginia; Van Cutsem, Gilles; Médecins sans Frontières, Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa; Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; South African Medical Unit, Médecins sans Frontières, Johannesburg, South Africa; City of Cape Town, Health Directorate, Khayelitsha, South Africa. (2012-10)
      Studies have shown that early ART initiation in TB/HIV co-infected patients lowers mortality. One way to implement earlier ART commencement could be through integration of TB and HIV services, a more efficient model of care than separate, vertical programs. We present a model of full TB/HIV integration and estimate its effect on time to initiation of ART.
    • Effectiveness of a PMTCT programme in rural Western Kenya.

      Azcoaga-Lorenzo, A; Ferreyra, C; Alvarez, A; Palma, P P; Velilla, E; del Amo, J; Medecins Sans Frontieres-Spain/Operational Centre Barcelona-Athens, Barcelona, Spain. azcoaga@yahoo.es (Taylor and Francis, 2011-03)
      We assess the coverage of a Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission (PMTCT) programme in Busia (Kenya) from 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2008 and estimate the risk of transmission of HIV. We also estimate the odds of HIV transmission according to pharmacological intervention received. Programme coverage was estimated as the proportion of mother-baby pairs receiving any antiretroviral (ARV) regimen among all HIV-positive women attending services. We estimated the mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) rate and their 95% confidence interval (95%CI) using the direct method of calculation (intermediate estimate). A case-control study was established among all children born to HIV-positive mothers with information on outcome (HIV status of the babies) and exposure (data on pharmacological intervention). Cases were all HIV-positive children and controls were the HIV-negative ones. Exposure was defined as: (1) complete protocol: ARV prescribed according World Health Organisation recommendations; (2) partial protocol: does not meet criteria for complete protocol; and (3) no intervention: ARVs were not prescribed to both mother and child. Babies were tested using DNA Polymerase Chain Reaction at six weeks of life and six weeks after breastfeeding ceased. In the study period, 22,566 women accepted testing, 1668 were HIV positive (7.4%; 95%CI 7.05-7.73); 1036 (62%) registered in the programme and 632 were lost. Programme coverage was 40.4% (95%CI 37.9-42.7). Out of the 767 newborns, 28 (3.6%) died, 148 (19.3%) defaulted, 282 (36.7%) were administratively censored and 309 (40.2%) babies completed the follow-up as per protocol; 49 were HIV positive and MTCT risk was 15.86% (95%CI 11.6-20.1). The odds of having an HIV-positive baby was 4.6 times higher among pairs receiving a partial protocol compared to those receiving a complete protocol and 43 times higher among those receiving no intervention. Our data show a good level of enrolment but low global coverage rate. It demonstrates that ARV regimens can be implemented in low resource rural settings with marked decreases of MTCT. Increasing the coverage of PMTCT programmes remains the main challenge.
    • Effectiveness of highly active antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive children: evaluation at 12 months in a routine program in Cambodia.

      Janssens, B; Raleigh, B; Soeung, S; Akao, K; Te, V; Gupta, J; Vun, M; Ford, N; Nouhin, J; Nerrienet, E; Médecins Sans Frontières, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. b.janssens@bigfoot.com (2007-11)
      OBJECTIVE: Increasing access to highly active antiretroviral therapy to reach all those in need in developing countries (scale up) is slowly expanding to HIV-positive children, but documented experience remains limited. We aimed to describe the clinical, immunologic, and virologic outcomes of pediatric patients with >12 months of highly active antiretroviral therapy in 2 routine programs in Cambodia. METHODS: Between June 2003 and March 2005, 212 children who were younger than 13 years started highly active antiretroviral therapy. Most patients started a standard first-line regimen of lamivudine, stavudine, and nevirapine, using split adult fixed-dosage combinations. CD4 percentage and body weight were monitored routinely. A cross-sectional virologic analysis was conducted in January 2006; genotype resistance testing was performed for patients with a detectable viral load. RESULTS: Mean age of the subjects was 6 years. Median CD4 percentage at baseline was 6. Survival was 92% at 12 months and 91% at 24 months; 13 patients died, and 4 were lost to follow-up. A total of 81% of all patients had an undetectable viral load. Among the patients with a detectable viral load, most mutations were associated with resistance to lamivudine and non-nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor drugs. Five patients had developed extensive antiretroviral resistance. Being an orphan was found to be a predictor of virologic failure. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides additional evidence of the effectiveness of integrating HIV/AIDS care with highly active antiretroviral therapy for children in a routine setting, with good virologic suppression and immunologic recovery achieved by using split adult fixed-dosage combinations. Viral load monitoring and HIV genotyping are valuable tools for the clinical follow-up of the patients. Orphans should receive careful follow-up and extra support.
    • Effectiveness of Patient Adherence Groups as a model of care for stable patients on Antiretroviral Therapy in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa

      Luque-Fernandez, Miguel Angel; Van Cutsem, Gilles; Goemaere, Eric; Hilderbrand, Katherine; Schomaker, Michael; Mantangana, Nompumelelo; Mathee, Shaheed; Dubula, Vuyiseka; Ford, Nathan; Hernán, Miguel A; Boulle, Andrew; Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa (2013-02-13)
      Innovative models of care are required to cope with the ever-increasing number of patients on antiretroviral therapy in the most affected countries. This study, in Khayelitsha, South Africa, evaluates the effectiveness of a group-based model of care run predominantly by non-clinical staff in retaining patients in care and maintaining adherence.
    • Effectiveness of the first district-wide programme for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in South Africa.

      Coetzee, D; Hilderbrand, K; Boulle, A; Draper, B; Abdullah, F; Goemaere, E; Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. dcoetzee@phfm.uct.ac.za (WHO, 2005-07)
      OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to estimate the field efficacy of the first routine programme for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) initiated in South Africa, in the subdistrict of Khayelitsha. METHODS: A consecutive sample of 658 mother-infant pairs, identified from the PMTCT register from 1 March to 30 November 2003, were identified for enrolment in this study. Details of the regimen received were established and HIV status of the infants at between 6 and 10 weeks of age was determined by qualitative DNA polymerase chain reaction. Zidovudine (AZT) was provided antenatally from week 34 of gestation and during labour. Infant formula milk was-offered to mothers who chose not to breastfeed. The protocol was amended in July 2003 such that women who had received < 2 weeks of treatment with AZT were given a single dose of nevirapine (NVP) at the onset of labour, and the infant received a weight-adjusted dose of NVP within 72 h of delivery. RESULTS: Of the 535 mother-infant pairs (81%) eventually included in the study, 410 (77%) received an effective PMTCT intervention according to the protocol. The rate of transmission of HIV from mother to child was 8.8% (95% confidence interval (CI), 6.2-10.9). A maternal age of > 25 years was the only significant independent risk factor for transmission (odds ratio, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.14-4.07). CONCLUSION: The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of a large-scale PMTCT programme in an urban public-sector setting.
    • Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Low- and Middle-Income Countries by 2030: Is It Possible?

      Harries, AD; Suthar, A; Takarinda, KC; Tweya, H; Kyaw, NTT; Tayler-Smith, K; Zachariah, R (2016-09)
      The international community has committed to ending the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical infections by 2030, and this bold stance deserves universal support. In this paper, we discuss whether this ambitious goal is achievable for HIV/AIDS and what is needed to further accelerate progress. The joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets and the related strategy are built upon currently available health technologies that can diagnose HIV infection and suppress viral replication in all people with HIV. Nonetheless, there is much work to be done in ensuring equitable access to these HIV services for key populations and those who remain outside the rims of the traditional health services. Identifying a cure and a preventive vaccine would further help accelerate progress in ending the epidemic. Other disease control programmes could learn from the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
    • Ensuring sustainable antiretroviral provision during economic crises.

      Mills, Edward J; Ford, Nathan; Nabiryo, Christine; Cooper, Curtis; Montaner, Julio; University of Ottawa, 451, Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON K1H 8M5, Canada. emills@cfenet.ubc.ca (2010-01-28)
    • The epidemiology of adolescents living with perinatally acquired HIV: A cross-region global cohort analysis

      Slogrove, AL; Schomaker, M; Davies, MA; Williams, P; Balkan, S; Ben-Farhat, J; Calles, N; Chokephaibulkit, K; Duff, C; Eboua, TF; Kekitiinwa-Rukyalekere, A; Maxwell, N; Pinto, J; Seage, G; Teasdale, CA; Wanless, S; Warszawski, J; Wools-Kaloustian, K; Yotebieng, M; Timmerman, V; Collins, IJ; Goodall, R; Smith, C; Patel, K; Paul, M; Gibb, D; Vreeman, R; Abrams, EJ; Hazra, R; Van Dyke, R; Bekker, LG; Mofenson, L; Vicari, M; Essajee, S; Penazzato, M; Anabwani, G; Q Mohapi, E; N Kazembe, P; Hlatshwayo, M; Lumumba, M; Goetghebuer, T; Thorne, C; Galli, L; van Rossum, A; Giaquinto, C; Marczynska, M; Marques, L; Prata, F; Ene, L; Okhonskaia, L; Rojo, P; Fortuny, C; Naver, L; Rudin, C; Le Coeur, S; Volokha, A; Rouzier, V; Succi, R; Sohn, A; Kariminia, A; Edmonds, A; Lelo, P; Ayaya, S; Ongwen, P; Jefferys, LF; Phiri, S; Mubiana-Mbewe, M; Sawry, S; Renner, L; Sylla, M; Abzug, MJ; Levin, M; Oleske, J; Chernoff, M; Traite, S; Purswani, M; Chadwick, EG; Judd, A; Leroy, V (Public Library of Science, 2018-03-01)
      Globally, the population of adolescents living with perinatally acquired HIV (APHs) continues to expand. In this study, we pooled data from observational pediatric HIV cohorts and cohort networks, allowing comparisons of adolescents with perinatally acquired HIV in "real-life" settings across multiple regions. We describe the geographic and temporal characteristics and mortality outcomes of APHs across multiple regions, including South America and the Caribbean, North America, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.
    • Errors Generated by a Point-Of-Care CD4+ T-Lymphocyte Analyser: a Retrospective Observational Study in Nine Countries

      Fajardo, E; Metcalf, C; Piriou, E; Gueguen, M; Maman, D; Chaillet, P; Cox, V; Rumaney, MB; Tunggal, S; Kosack, C; Roberts, T (World Health Organization, 2015-09-01)
      To estimate the proportion of invalid results generated by a CD4+ T-lymphocyte analyser used by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in field projects and identify factors associated with invalid results.
    • Estimation and Short-Term Prediction of the Course of the HIV Epidemic Using Demographic and Health Survey Methodology-Like Data

      Blaizot, Stéphanie; Riche, Benjamin; Maman, David; Mukui, Irene; Kirubi, Beatrice; Etard, Jean-François; Ecochard, René (Public Library of Science, 2015-06-19)
      Mathematical models have played important roles in the understanding of epidemics and in the study of the impacts of various behavioral or medical measures. However, modeling accurately the future spread of an epidemic requires context-specific parameters that are difficult to estimate because of lack of data. Our objective is to propose a methodology to estimate context-specific parameters using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS)-like data that can be used in mathematical modeling of short-term HIV spreading.
    • Evaluation of a 5-year programme to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection in Northern Uganda

      Ahoua, Laurence; Ayikoru, Harriet; Gnauck, Katherine; Odaru, Grace; Odar, Emmanuel; Ondoa-Onama, Christine; Pinoges, Loretxu; Balkan, Suna; Olson, David; Pujades-Rodríguez, Mar; Epicentre, Paris, France; Medecins Sans Frontieres, Kampala, Uganda; Arua Regional District Hospital, Ministry of Health, Arua, Uganda; Medecins Sans Frontieres, Paris, France (2010-07-13)
      Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is essential in HIV/AIDS control. We analysed 2000-05 data from mother-infant pairs in our PMTCT programme in rural Uganda, examining programme utilization and outcomes, HIV transmission rates and predictors of death or loss to follow-up (LFU). Out of 19,017 women, 1,037 (5.5%) attending antenatal care services tested HIV positive. Of these, 517 (50%) enrolled in the PMTCT programme and gave birth to 567 infants. Before tracing, 303 (53%) mother-infant pairs were LFU. Reasons for dropout were infant death and lack of understanding of importance of follow-up. Risk of death or LFU was higher among infants with no or incomplete intrapartum prophylaxis (OR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.07-3.36) and of weaning age <6 months (OR 2.55, 95% CI 1.42-4.58), and lower in infants with diagnosed acute illness (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.16-0.55). Mother-to-child HIV cumulative transmission rate was 8.3%, and 15.5% when HIV-related deaths were considered. Improved tracking of HIV-exposed infants is needed in PMTCT programmes where access to early infant diagnosis is still limited.
    • The evaluation of a rapid in situ HIV confirmation test in a programme with a high failure rate of the WHO HIV two-test diagnostic algorithm.

      Klarkowski, D; Wazome, J M; Lokuge, K M; Shanks, L; Mills, C; O'Brien, D P; Public Health Department, Médecins Sans Frontières, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. derryck.klarkowski@amsterdam.msf.org (2009-02)
      BACKGROUND: Concerns about false-positive HIV results led to a review of testing procedures used in a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) HIV programme in Bukavu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to the WHO HIV rapid diagnostic test algorithm (RDT) (two positive RDTs alone for HIV diagnosis) used in voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) sites we evaluated in situ a practical field-based confirmation test against western blot WB. In addition, we aimed to determine the false-positive rate of the WHO two-test algorithm compared with our adapted protocol including confirmation testing, and whether weakly reactive compared with strongly reactive rapid test results were more likely to be false positives. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: 2864 clients presenting to MSF VCT centres in Bukavu during January to May 2006 were tested using Determine HIV-1/2 and UniGold HIV rapid tests in parallel by nurse counsellors. Plasma samples on 229 clients confirmed as double RDT positive by laboratory retesting were further tested using both WB and the Orgenics Immunocomb Combfirm HIV confirmation test (OIC-HIV). Of these, 24 samples were negative or indeterminate by WB representing a false-positive rate of the WHO two-test algorithm of 10.5% (95%CI 6.6-15.2). 17 of the 229 samples were weakly positive on rapid testing and all were negative or indeterminate by WB. The false-positive rate fell to 3.3% (95%CI 1.3-6.7) when only strong-positive rapid test results were considered. Agreement between OIC-HIV and WB was 99.1% (95%CI 96.9-99.9%) with no false OIC-HIV positives if stringent criteria for positive OIC-HIV diagnoses were used. CONCLUSIONS: The WHO HIV two-test diagnostic algorithm produced an unacceptably high level of false-positive diagnoses in our setting, especially if results were weakly positive. The most probable causes of the false-positive results were serological cross-reactivity or non-specific immune reactivity. Our findings show that the OIC-HIV confirmation test is practical and effective in field contexts. We propose that all double-positive HIV RDT samples should undergo further testing to confirm HIV seropositivity until the accuracy of the RDT testing algorithm has been established at programme level.