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    ABSTRACT: The Universal HIV Test and Treat (UTT) strategy represents a challenge for science, but is also a challenge for individuals and societies. Are repeated offers of provider-initiated HIV testing and immediate antiretroviral therapy (ART) socially-acceptable and can these become normalized over time? Can UTT be implemented without potentially adding to individual and community stigma, or threatening individual rights? What are the social, cultural and economic implications of UTT for households and communities? And can UTT be implemented within capacity constraints and other threats to the overall provision of HIV services? The answers to these research questions will be critical for routine implementation of UTT strategies. A social science research programme is nested within the ANRS 12249 Treatment-as-Prevention (TasP) cluster-randomised trial in rural South Africa. The programme aims to inform understanding of the (i) social, economic and environmental factors affecting uptake of services at each step of the continuum of HIV prevention, treatment and care and (ii) the causal impacts of the TasP intervention package on social and economic factors at the individual, household, community and health system level. We describe a multidisciplinary, multi-level, mixed-method research protocol that includes individual, household, community and clinic surveys, and combines quantitative and qualitative methods. The UTT strategy is changing the overall approach to HIV prevention, treatment and care, and substantial social consequences may be anticipated, such as changes in social representations of HIV transmission, prevention, HIV testing and ART use, as well as changes in individual perceptions and behaviours in terms of uptake and frequency of HIV testing and ART initiation at high CD4. Triangulation of social science studies within the ANRS 12249 TasP trial will provide comprehensive insights into the acceptability and feasibility of the TasP intervention package at individual, community, patient and health system level, to complement the trial's clinical and epidemiological outcomes. It will also increase understanding of the causal impacts of UTT on social and economic outcomes, which will be critical for the long-term sustainability and routine UTT implementation. Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01509508 ; South African Trial Register: DOH-27-0512-3974.
    BMC Public Health 12/2015; 15(1):1344. DOI:10.1186/s12889-015-1344-y · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The rollout of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is one of the largest public health interventions in Eastern and Southern Africa of recent years. Its impact is well described in clinical cohort studies, but population-based evidence is rare. We use data from seven demographic surveillance sites that also conduct community-based HIV testing and collect information on the uptake of HIV services. We present crude death rates of adults (aged 15-64) for the period 2000-2011 by sex, HIV status, and treatment status. Parametric survival models are used to estimate age-adjusted trends in the mortality rates of people living with HIV (PLHIV) before and after the introduction of ART. The pooled ALPHA Network dataset contains 2.4 million person-years of follow-up time, and 39114 deaths (6893 to PLHIV). The mortality rates of PLHIV have been relatively static before the availability of ART. Mortality declined rapidly thereafter, with typical declines between 10 and 20% per annum. Compared with the pre-ART era, the total decline in mortality rates of PLHIV exceeds 58% in all study sites with available data, and amounts to 84% for women in Masaka (Uganda). Mortality declines have been larger for women than for men; a result that is statistically significant in five sites. Apart from the early phase of treatment scale up, when the mortality of PLHIV on ART was often very high, mortality declines have been observed in PLHIV both on and off ART. The expansion of treatment has had a large and pervasive effect on adult mortality. Mortality declines have been more pronounced for women, a factor that is often attributed to women's greater engagement with HIV services. Improvements in the timing of ART initiation have contributed to mortality reductions in PLHIV on ART, but also among those who have not (yet) started treatment because they are increasingly selected for early stage disease.
    AIDS 11/2014; 28(4):S533-S542. DOI:10.1097/QAD.0000000000000496 · 6.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For women living with HIV, contraception using condoms is recommended because it prevents not only unintended pregnancy but also acquisition of other sexually transmitted infections and onward transmission of HIV. Dual-method dual-protection contraception (condoms with other contraceptive methods) is preferable over single-method dual-protection contraception (condoms alone) because of its higher contraceptive effectiveness. We estimate the effect of progression through the HIV treatment cascade on contraceptive use and choice among HIV-infected women in rural South Africa. We linked population-based surveillance data on contraception collected by the Wellcome Trust Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies to data from the local antiretroviral treatment (ART) program in Hlabisa subdistrict, KwaZulu-Natal. In bivariate probit regression, we estimated the effects of progressing through the cascade on contraceptive choice among HIV-infected sexually active women aged 15-49 years (N = 3169), controlling for a wide range of potential confounders. Contraception use increased across the cascade from <40% among HIV-infected women who did not know their status to >70% among women who have been on ART for 4-7 years. Holding other factors equal (1) awareness of HIV status, (2) ART initiation, and (3) being on ART for 4-7 years increased the likelihood of single-method/dual-method dual protection by the following percentage points (pp), compared with women who were unaware of their HIV status: (1) 4.6 pp (P = 0.030)/3.5 pp (P = 0.001), (2) 10.3 pp (P = 0.003)/5.2 pp (P = 0.007), and (3) 21.6 pp (P < 0.001)/11.2 pp (P < 0.001). Progression through the HIV treatment cascade significantly increased the likelihood of contraception in general and contraception with condoms in particular. ART programs are likely to contribute to HIV prevention through the behavioral pathway of changing contraception use and choice.
    JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 12/2014; 67 Suppl 4:S218-27. DOI:10.1097/QAI.0000000000000373 · 4.39 Impact Factor

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