[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the European Sero-Epidemiology Network 2 (ESEN2) project was to estimate age-specific seroprevalence for a number of vaccine-preventable diseases in Europe. To achieve this serosurveys were collected by 22 national laboratories. To adjust for a variety of laboratory methods and assays, all quantitative results were transformed to a reference laboratory's units and were then classified as positive or negative to obtain age-specific seroprevalence. The aim of this study was to assess the value of standardization by comparing the crude and standardized seroprevalence estimates. Seroprevalence was estimated for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, varicella zoster and hepatitis A virus (HAV) and compared before and after serological results had been standardized. The results showed that if no such adjustment had taken place, seroprevalence would have differed by an average of 3·2% (95% bootstrap interval 2·9–3·6) although this percentage varied substantially by antigen. These differences were as high as 16% for some serosurveys (HAV) which means that standardization could have a considerable impact on seroprevalence estimates and should be considered when comparing serosurveys performed in different laboratories using different assay methods.
Epidemiology and Infection 11/2014; Epidemiol. Infect.(25):1-10. · 2.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SUMMARY Patterns of sexual mixing are major determinants of sexually transmitted infection (STI) transmission, in particular the extent to which high-risk populations mix with low-risk populations. However, patterns of mixing in the general population are poorly understood. We analysed data from a national probability sample survey of households, the Health Survey for England 2010. A total of 943 heterosexual couples living together, where at least one partner was aged between 16-44 years, were included. We used correlation coefficients to measure the strength of similarities between partners with respect to demographic characteristics, general health, health behaviours and sexual history. Males were on average 2 years older than their female partners, although this age difference ranged from a median of 0 years in men aged 16-24 years to a median of 2 years in men aged 35-44 years. A positive correlation between partners was found for all demographic characteristics. With respect to general health and health behaviours, a strongly positive correlation was found between men and women in reporting alcohol consumption at ⩾3 days a week and smoking. Men typically reported greater numbers of sexual partners than their female partner, although men and women with more partners were more likely to mix with each other. We have been able to elucidate the patterns of sexual mixing between men and women living together in England. Mixing based on demographic characteristics was more assortative than sexual characteristics. These data can better inform mathematical models of STI transmission.
Epidemiology and Infection 08/2014; · 2.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This report presents the results of the 2014 National Chlamydia Screening Programme web survey, which examined how chlamydia screening affects young adults’ subsequent knowledge and/or healthcare-seeking or sexual behaviour. An improved understanding of this process will help with evaluating the wider impact and cost effectiveness of chlamydia screening.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The WHO guidelines recommend antiretroviral therapy (ART) begins when CD4 cell counts reach less than 500 cells to reduce HIV transmission. In the UK, 96 000 people were living with HIV (PLWHIV) in 2011, ART coverage was 84% among the diagnosed population and 42% of PLWHIV had detectable viraemia. Using published methods, we estimate starting ART at below 500 CD4 cells could have reduced the proportion of PLWHIV with detectable viraemia from 42% to 38%, whereas halving the undiagnosed population could have led to a decrease to 28%. In the UK, it is unlikely early treatment will reduce HIV transmission unless the undiagnosed population is substantially reduced.
AIDS (London, England) 12/2013; · 6.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives
The aim of the study was to examine whether UK HIV testing guidelines which recommend the expansion of HIV testing in high HIV prevalence areas have been implemented in England.
An online survey tool was used to conduct an audit of sexual health commissioners in 40 high HIV prevalence areas (diagnosed prevalence > 2 per 1000) between May and June 2012. Responders were asked to provide details of expanded HIV testing programmes that they had commissioned in nontraditional settings and perceived barriers and facilitators involved in introducing expanded testing.
The response rate was 88% (35 of 40). Against the key audit standards, 31% (11 of 35) of areas had commissioned routine testing of new registrants in general practice, and 14% (five of 35) routine testing of general medical admissions. The majority of responders (80%; 28 of 35) had commissioned some form of expanded testing, often targeted at risk groups. The most common setting for commissioning of testing was the community (51%; 18 of 35), followed by general practice (49%; 17 of 35) and hospital departments (36%; 13 of 35). A minority (11%; four of 35) of responders had commissioned testing in all three settings. Where testing in general practice took place this was typically in a minority of practices (median 10–20%). Most (77%; 27 of 35) expected the rate of HIV testing to increase over the next year, but lack of resources was cited as a barrier to testing by 94% (33 of 35) of responders.
Not all high HIV prevalence areas in England have fully implemented testing guidelines. Scale-up of existing programmes and continued expansion of testing into new settings will be necessary to achieve this.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ObjectivesUK guidelines recommend routine HIV testing in general clinical settings when the local HIV prevalence is > 0.2%. During pilot programmes evaluating the guidelines, we used laboratory-based testing of oral fluid from patients accepting tests. Samples (n = 3721) were tested manually using the Bio-Rad Genscreen Ultra HIV Ag-Ab test (Bio-Rad Laboratories Ltd, Hemel Hempstead, UK). This was a methodologically robust method, but handling of samples was labour intensive. We performed a validation study to ascertain whether automation of oral fluid HIV testing using the fourth-generation HIV test on the Abbott Architect (Abbott Diagnostics, Maidenhead, UK) platform was possible. Methods
Oral fluid was collected from 143 patients (56 known HIV-positive volunteers and 87 others having contemporaneous HIV serological tests) using the Oracol+ device (Malvern Medicals, Worcester, UK). Samples were tested concurrently: manually using the Genscreen Ultra test and automatically on the Abbott Architect. ResultsFor oral fluid, the level of agreement of results between the platforms was 100%. All results agreed with HIV serology. The use of the Oracol+ device produced high-quality samples. Subsequent field use of the test has shown a specificity of 99.97% after nearly 3000 tests. Conclusions
Laboratory-based HIV testing of oral fluid requires less training of local staff, with fewer demands on clinical time and space than near-patient testing. It is acceptable to patients. The validation exercise and subsequent clinical experience support automation, with test performance preserved. Automation reduces laboratory workload and speeds up the release of results. Automated oral fluid testing is thus a viable option for large-scale HIV screening programmes.
HIV Medicine 10/2013; 14(S3). · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: For the last 10 years there has been an epidemic of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe, North America and Australia. The majority of those infected are also HIV-positive and it is unclear to what extent HIV-negative MSM are also at increased risk of infection with HCV. This study provides the first examination of the association between HIV and hepatitis C serostatus in a sample of MSM recruited in community settings. METHODS: A total of 1121 participants completed a short questionnaire in 2008/2009 giving demographic and behavioural data, and donated a sample of oral fluid that was subsequently tested for antibodies to selected pathogens (HIV, syphilis and HCV). RESULTS: The seroprevalence of hepatitis C antibody was 2.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4-3.2%]. It was more common in those with HIV infection [7.7% (95% CI 4.2-12.9%) vs. 1.2% (95% CI 0.6-2.1%) in those without HIV infection; P < 0.001], those with a history of syphilis [12.2% (95% CI 4.6-24.8%) vs. 1.7% (95% CI 1.0-2.6%) in those without such a history; P < 0.001] and those who reported casual unprotected anal intercourse in the previous year [4.1% (95% CI 2.0-7.4%) vs. 1.2% (95% CI 0.5-2.2%) in those who did not report such intercourse; P = 0.01]. There was no relationship between hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) status and other demographic variables (age, ethnicity, employment status or education). CONCLUSIONS: The seroprevalence of anti-HCV in HIV-negative MSM (1.2%) was higher, but not significantly higher, than that in the general population (0.67%). The prevalence was significantly higher in those infected with HIV or with previous syphilis infection and in those reporting unprotected anal intercourse. Our findings support current British Association for Sexual Health and HIV guidelines recommending the provision of selective HCV testing in MSM according to individual risk profile.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: A national multimedia campaign was launched in January 2010, to increase the proportion of young people tested for chlamydia. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of the campaign on the coverage and positivity within the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NSCP) in England. METHOD: An interrupted time series of anonymised NCSP testing reports for England for a 27 month period (1st April 2008 to 30th June 2010) was analysed. Reports were assigned to a pre-campaign, campaign and post campaign phase according to the test date. Exclusion criteria included tests for clinical reasons, contacts of known cases, and tests returned from prisons or military services.Negative binomial and logistic regression modelling was used to provide an estimate for the change in coverage and positivity, during, and after the campaign and estimates were adjusted for secular and cyclical trends. RESULTS: Adjusting for cyclical and secular trends, there was no change in the overall testing coverage either during (RR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.72-1.14) or after (RR: 0.88; 95%CI: 0.69-1.11) the campaign. The coverage varied amongst different socio-demographic groups, testing of men increased during the campaign phase while testing of people of black and other ethnic groups fell in this phase. The positivity rate was increased during the campaign (OR: 1.18; 95% CI 1.13-1.23) and further increased in the post-campaign phase (OR: 1.40; 95% CI 1.30-1.51). The proportion of chlamydia infections detected increased for all socio-demographic and self-reported sexual behaviour groups both during and after the campaign. CONCLUSION: The uptake of chlamydia testing rose during the campaign; however, this apparent increase was not maintained once overall trends in testing were taken into account. Nonetheless, once secular and cyclical trends were controlled for, the campaign was associated with an increased positivity linked to increased testing of high risk individuals groups in the target population who were previously less likely to come forward for testing. However, our study indicated that there may have been a disparity in the impact of the campaign on different population groups. The content and delivery of ongoing and future information campaigns aimed at increasing chlamydia screening should be carefully developed so that they are relevant to all sections of the target population.
BMC Public Health 05/2013; 13(1):484. · 2.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: National guidance recommends targeted behavioural interventions and frequent HIV testing for men who have sex with men (MSM). We reviewed current policy and practice for HIV testing and behavioural interventions (BI) in England to determine adherence to guidance. METHODS: 25 sexual health clinics were surveyed using a semistructured audit asking about risk ascertainment for MSM, HIV testing and behavioural intervention policies. Practice was assessed by reviewing the notes of the first 40 HIV-negative MSM aged over 16 who attended from 1 June 2010, in a subset of 15 clinics. RESULTS: 24 clinics completed the survey: 18 (75%) defined risk for MSM and 17 used unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) as an indication of high risk. 21 (88%) offered one or more structured BI. Of 598 notes reviewed, 199 (33%) MSM reported any UAI. BI, including safer sex advice, was offered to and accepted by 251/598 (42%) men. A low proportion of all MSM (52/251: 21%) accepted a structured one-to-one BI as recommended by national guidance and uptake was still low among higher risk MSM (29/107: 27%). 92% (552/598) of men had one or more HIV test over a 1-year period. CONCLUSIONS: In 2010, the number of HIV tests performed met the national minimum standard but structured behavioural interventions were being offered to and accepted by only a small proportion of MSM, including those at a higher risk of infection. Reasons for not offering behavioural interventions to higher risk MSM, whether due to patient choice, a lack of staff training or resource shortage, need to be investigated and addressed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Seroepidemiology of chlamydia can offer study opportunities and insights into cumulative risk of exposure that may contribute to monitoring the frequency of, and control of, genital chlamydia-the most commonly diagnosed STI in England. We undertook retrospective anonymous population-based cross-sectional surveys using an indirect IgG ELISA for chlamydia Pgp3 antibody. Sera from 4,732 women aged 17-24 years were tested. Samples were taken at 3-yearly intervals between 1993 and 2002, a period during which other data suggest chlamydia transmission may have been increasing, and from each year between 2007 and 2010. Seroprevalence increased in 17-24 year olds over time between 1993 and 2002. Between 2007 and 2010, age-standardised seroprevalence among 17-24 year olds decreased from 20% (95% CI: 17-23) to 15% (95%CI 12-17) (p = 0.0001). The biggest drop was among 20 to 21 year olds, where seroprevalence decreased from 21% in 2007 to 9% in 2010 (p = 0.002). These seroprevalence data reflect some known features of the epidemiology of chlamydia infection, and show that exposure to antibody-inducing chlamydia infection has declined in recent years. This decline was concurrent with increasing rates of screening for asymptomatic chlamydia. Serology should be explored further as a tool for evaluation of chlamydia control, including chlamydia screening programmes.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(8):e72001. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: In recent years there has been interest in websites as a means of increasing access to free chlamydia tests through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) in England. We aimed to describe and evaluate online access to chlamydia testing within the NCSP. METHODS: We analysed NCSP chlamydia testing data (2006--2010) for 15--24 year olds from the 71/95 programme areas in England where site codes were available to identify tests ordered through the internet. The characteristics of people using online testing services in 2010 were compared with those testing in general practice (GP) or community sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. We evaluated 58 websites offering free chlamydia tests through the NCSP, and 32 offering kits on a commercial basis for signposting to clinical service and health promotion advice offered. RESULTS: Between 2006 and 2010, 5% of all tests in the included programme areas were accessed through the internet. The number of internet tests increased from 18 (<1% of all tests) in 2006 to 59,750 in 2010 (6% of all NCSP tests). In 2010 the proportion of NCSP tests accessed online by programme area ranged from <1% to 38%. The proportion of tests with a positive result on the internet was higher than tests from general practice and comparable to those from community SRH services (internet 7.6%; GP 5.6%; Community SRH 8.2%). A higher proportion of people accessing online testing were male, aged 20--24 and reported >1 sexual partner in the past year. Provision of sexual health information and appropriate signposting for those in need of clinical services varied between websites. Service provision within the NCSP was fragmented with multiple providers serving specific geographical catchment areas. CONCLUSION: Internet testing reaches a population with a relatively high risk of chlamydia infection and appears acceptable to young men, a group that has been difficult to engage with chlamydia testing. In order to maximise the potential benefit of these services, websites should be consistent with national guidelines and adhere to minimum standards for signposting to clinical care and health promotion information. The current system with multiple providers servicing geographically specific catchment areas is contrary to the geographically unrestricted nature of the internet and potentially confusing for clients.
BMC Public Health 12/2012; 12(1):1095. · 2.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To assess current and intended future use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among men who have sex with men (MSM) and characterise those attending sexual health clinics, the anticipated PrEP delivery setting. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. METHODS: Self-administered survey of 842 HIV negative MSM recruited from social venues in London in 2011. RESULTS: One in 10 (10.2%, 83/814, 95% CI 8.2% to 12.5%) and one in 50 (2.1%, 17/809, 95% CI 1.2% to 3.3%) reported having ever used post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and PrEP respectively. Half reported they would be likely to use PrEP if it became available as a daily pill (50.3%, 386/786, 95% CI 46.7% to 53.9%). MSM were more likely to consider future PrEP use if they were <35 years (adjusted OR (AOR) 1.57, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.14), had unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners (AOR 1.70, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.56), and had previously used PEP (AOR 1.94, 95% CI 1.17 to 3.24). Over half of MSM (54.8% 457/834 95% CI 51.3 to 58.2) attended a sexual health clinic the previous year. Independent factors associated with attendance were age <35 (AOR 2.29, 95% CI 1.68 to 3.13), and ≥10 anal sex partners in the last year (AOR 2.49, 95% CI 1.77 to 3.52). CONCLUSIONS: The concept of PrEP for HIV prevention in the form of a daily pill is acceptable to half of sexually active MSM in London. MSM reporting higher risk behaviours attend sexual health clinics suggesting this is a suitable setting for PrEP delivery.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: To explore staff attitudes towards and experiences of the implementation of routine HIV testing in four healthcare settings in areas of high diagnosed HIV prevalence. METHODS: As part of the HINTS (HIV Testing in Non-traditional Settings) Study, routine offer of an HIV test to all 16-65-year-old patients was conducted for 3 months in an emergency department, an acute admissions unit, a dermatology outpatients department and a primary care practice. The authors conducted focus groups with staff at these sites before and after the implementation of testing. Transcriptions of focus groups were subject to thematic analysis. RESULTS: Four major themes were identified: the stigma of HIV and exceptionalisation of HIV testing as a condition; the use of routine testing compared with a targeted strategy as a means of improving the acceptability of testing; the need for an additional skill set to conduct HIV testing; and the existence within these particular settings of operational barriers to the implementation of HIV testing. Specifically, the time taken to conduct testing and management of results were seen by staff as barriers. There was a clear change in staff perception before and after implementation of testing as staff became aware of the high level of patient acceptability. CONCLUSIONS: The routine offer of HIV testing in general medical services is feasible, but implementation requires training and support for staff, which may be best provided by the local sexual health service.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: UK guidelines recommend routine HIV testing in healthcare settings if the local diagnosed HIV prevalence >2/1000 persons. This prospective study assessed the feasibility and acceptability, to patients and staff, of routinely offering HIV tests in four settings: Emergency Department, Acute Care Unit, Dermatology Outpatients and Primary Care. Modelling suggested the estimated prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection in attendees would exceed 1/1000 persons. The prevalence identified prospectively was not a primary outcome.
Permanent staff completed questionnaires assessing attitudes towards routine HIV testing in their workplace before testing began. Subsequently, over a three-month period, patients aged 16-65 were offered an HIV test by study staff. Demographics, uptake, results, and departmental activity were collected. Subsets of patients completed questionnaires. Analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with test uptake.
Questionnaires were received from 144 staff. 96% supported the expansion of HIV testing, but only 54% stated that they would feel comfortable delivering testing themselves, with 72% identifying a need for training. Of 6194 patients offered a test, 4105 (66·8%) accepted (61·8-75·4% across sites). Eight individuals were diagnosed with HIV (0-10/1000 across sites) and all transferred to care. Younger people, and males, were more likely to accept an HIV test. No significant associations were found between uptake and ethnicity, or clinical site. Questionnaires were returned from 1003 patients. The offer of an HIV test was acceptable to 92%. Of respondents, individuals who had never tested for HIV before were more likely to accept a test, but no association was found between test uptake and sexual orientation.
HIV testing in these settings is acceptable, and operationally feasible. The strategy successfully identified, and transferred to care, HIV-positive individuals. However, if HIV testing is to be included as a routine part of patients' care, additional staff training and infrastructural resources will be required.
PLoS ONE 06/2012; 7(6):e39530. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mumps outbreaks have recently been recorded in a number of highly vaccinated populations. We related seroprevalence, epidemiological and vaccination data from 18 European countries participating in The European Sero-Epidemiology Network (ESEN) to their risk of mumps outbreaks in order to inform vaccination strategies. Samples from national population serum banks were collected, tested for mumps IgG antibodies and standardized for international comparisons. A comparative analysis between countries was undertaken using age-specific mumps seroprevalence data and information on reported mumps incidence, vaccine strains, vaccination programmes and vaccine coverage 5-12 years after sera collection. Mean geometric mumps antibody titres were lower in mumps outbreak countries [odds ratio (OR) 0·09, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·01-0·71)]. MMR1 vaccine coverage ⩾95% remained protective in a multivariable model (P<0·001), as did an interval of 4-8 years between doses (OR 0·08, 95% CI 0·01-0·85). Preventing outbreaks and controlling mumps probably requires several elements, including high-coverage vaccination programmes with MMR vaccine with 4-8 years between doses.
Epidemiology and Infection 06/2012; · 2.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patient financial incentives ("incentives") have been widely used to promote chlamydia screening uptake amongst 15-24 year olds in England, but there is scarce evidence of their effectiveness. The objectives of the study were to describe incentives used to promote chlamydia screening in Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England and to evaluate their impact on coverage and positivity rate.
PCTs that had used incentives between 1/1/2007 and 30/6/2009 (exposed) were matched by socio-demographic profile and initial screening coverage with PCTs that had not (unexposed). For each PCT, percentage point change in chlamydia screening coverage and positivity for the period before and during the incentive was calculated. Differences in average change of coverage and positivity rate between exposed and unexposed PCTs were compared using linear regression to adjust for matching and potential confounders.
Incentives had a significant effect in increasing average coverage in exposed PCTs (0.43%, CI 0.04%-0.82%). The effect for voucher schemes (2.35%) was larger than for prize draws (0.16%). The difference was greater in females (0.73%) than males (0.14%). The effect on positivity rates was not significant (0.07%, CI -1.53% to 1.67%).
Vouchers, but not prize draws, led to a small absolute but large relative increase in chlamydia screening coverage. Incentives increased coverage more in females than males but had no impact on reported positivity rates. These findings support recommendations not to use prize draws to promote chlamydia screening and contribute to the evidence base of the operational effectiveness of using patient incentives in encouraging public health action.
BMC Public Health 04/2012; 12:261. · 2.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Community HIV testing represents an opportunity for diagnosing HIV infection among individuals who may not have contact with health services, especially in hard-to-reach groups. The aim of this review was to assess the evidence for feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of HIV testing strategies in community settings in resource-rich countries.
The PubMed database was searched for English language studies of outreach HIV testing in resource-rich countries. Studies were included if they reported one of the following outcome measures: uptake of testing; seropositivity; client acceptability; or provider acceptability.
Forty-four studies were identified; the majority took place in the USA and targeted men who have sex with men. Uptake of HIV testing varied between 9 and 95% (in 14 studies). Seropositivity was ≥ 1% in 30 of 34 studies. In 16 studies the proportion of patients who received their test results varied from 29 to 100% and rapid testing resulted in a higher proportion of clients receiving their results. Overall, client satisfaction with community HIV testing was high. However, concern remained over confidentiality, professional standards and the need for post-test counselling. Staff reported positive attitudes towards community testing.
In the majority of studies, the reported seropositivity was higher than 1/1000, the threshold deemed to be cost-effective for routinely offering testing. Rapid testing improved the return of HIV test results to clients. HIV testing in outreach settings may be important in identifying undiagnosed infections in at-risk populations, but appropriate data to evaluate these initiatives must be collected.
HIV Medicine 03/2012; 13(7):416-26. · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SUMMARYSerological surveys for diphtheria were conducted in six European countries including Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovakia and one country outside Europe, Israel. For each country, a nationally representative population sample was collected across the entire age range and was tested for antibodies to diphtheria toxin. Although each national laboratory used its preferred assay, the results were all standardized to those of the in vitro neutralization test and expressed in international units (IU) which allowed comparative analyses to be performed. The results showed that increasing age is related to a gradual increase in seronegative subjects (<0·01 IU/ml of diphtheria antitoxin antibodies). This may reflect waning immunity following childhood vaccination without repeated booster vaccinations in adults. Differences in seronegativity were also found according to gender. In subjects aged 1-19 years, geometric mean titres of antitoxin are clearly related to the different vaccination schedules used in the participating countries. Although clinical disease remains rare, the susceptibility to diphtheria observed in these serosurveys highlights the importance of strengthened surveillance.
Epidemiology and Infection 02/2012; · 2.49 Impact Factor