The COVID-19 related U.S.-Mexico border-crossing restrictions disrupted social networks and HIV harm reduction services among people who inject drugs (PWID) in San Diego and Tijuana. We assessed associations of descriptive network norms on PWID’s HIV vulnerability during this period. Between 10/2020 and 10/2021, 399 PWID completed a behavioral and egocentric questionnaire. We used Latent Profile Analysis to categorize PWID into network norm risk profiles based on proportions of their network (n = 924 drug use alters) who injected drugs and engaged in cross-border drug use (CBDU), among other vulnerabilities. We used logistic and linear regressions to assess network profile associations with individual-level index of HIV vulnerability and harm reduction behaviors. Fit indices specified a 4-latent profile solution of descriptive network risk norms: lower (n = 178), moderate with (n = 34) and without (n = 94) CBDU and obtainment, and higher (n = 93). Participants in higher risk profiles reported more HIV vulnerability behaviors and fewer harm reduction behaviors. PWID’s gradient of HIV risk was associated with network norms, warranting intervention on high-vulnerability networks when services are limited.
Peer-driven interventions can be effective in reducing HIV injection risk behaviors among people who inject drugs (PWID). We employed a causal mediation framework to examine the mediating role of recall of intervention knowledge in the relationship between a peer-driven intervention and subsequent self-reported HIV injection-related risk behavior among PWID in the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 037 study. For each intervention network, the index participant received training at baseline to become a peer educator, while non-index participants and all participants in the control networks received only HIV testing and counseling; recall of intervention knowledge was measured at the 6-month visit for each participant, and each participant was followed to ascertain HIV injection-related risk behaviors at the 12-month visit. We used inverse probability weighting to fit marginal structural models to estimate the total effect (TE) and controlled direct effect (CDE) of the intervention on the outcome. The proportion eliminated (PE) by intervening to remove mediation by the recall of intervention knowledge was computed. There were 385 participants (47% in intervention networks) included in the analysis. The TE and CDE risk ratios for the intervention were 0.47 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.28, 0.78] and 0.73 (95% CI: 0.26, 2.06) and the PE was 49%. Compared to participants in the control networks, the peer-driven intervention reduced the risk of HIV injection-related risk behavior by 53%. The mediating role of recall of intervention knowledge accounted for less than 50% of the total effect of the intervention, suggesting that other potential causal pathways between the intervention and the outcome, such as motivation and skill, self-efficacy, social norms and behavior modeling, should be considered in future studies.
Sexual and gender minority individuals who attend collective sex venues (CSVs; establishments where people can have sex in groups or the presence of others) are at elevated risk for HIV and STIs. On-site sexual health interventions have been attempted at CSVs, but attendees’ interest in receiving such services is under-investigated. This paper presents results from a 2020 online cross-sectional survey completed by 342 sexual and gender minority individuals who attended CSVs in New York City. Interest in services such as on-site testing for STIs, testing vans near CSVs, and informational referrals was overall high, particularly among younger participants. Among participants who reported being HIV negative, those of younger age and those who were not using PrEP reported being more likely to take an HIV test if it would be offered at CSVs. In open-text survey responses, participants expressed interest in CSVs providing free prevention services such as HIV/STI testing, PEP, PrEP, and STI medications or vaccination, as well as in ways to improve norms surrounding condom use and consent at these venues. Some participants expressed barriers to on-site services such as privacy concerns, preexisting access to health services, an emphasis on personal responsibility, and negative reactions to the presence of service providers. However, some participants also felt that these services could be delivered in a positive, acceptable, and non-judgmental way, especially by involving CSV organizers and attendees in their implementation. Findings from this study can inform future initiatives to develop sexual health interventions at CSVs.
This study explicated associations between trauma-related cognitions and condomless sex, examining avoidance coping style and behavior (i.e., substance use) as intermediate variables, among a group disproportionately affected by both trauma and HIV. Two hundred and ninety HIV-negative MSM with a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) completed a cross-sectional psychosocial battery. Trauma-related cognitions were positively associated with more acts of condomless sex. Indirect associations on condomless sex were driven by avoidance coping, but not substance use. Findings indicate a need to address trauma-related cognitions and avoidance coping within interventions for reducing HIV risk among MSM with a history of CSA.
Although HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is free in Thailand, many transgender women discontinue taking it after initiation. We determined the loss to follow-up (LTFU) rate of transgender women who initiated PrEP at the Mplus Foundation, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and identified associated risk factors using Cox proportional hazard models. Of 235 participants who initiated PrEP, 59 (55%) out of 108 remaining participants had reactive syphilis. The LTFU rate at 6 months was 38% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 29–48%). Multivariable analysis indicates that LTFU is independently associated with age ≥ 26 years old (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 2.09; 95% CI: 1.06–4.14) and reactive syphilis (aHR = 1.98; 95% CI:1.01–3.88). Delayed appointment scheduling by the PrEP providers and the syphilis clinic was associated with transgender women having reactive syphilis, and the lockdown policy during the COVID-19 pandemic might have influenced them to discontinue PrEP and their subsequent LTFU.
Few studies have explored land access, a structural driver of health, and women’s participation in livelihood interventions to improve food security and HIV outcomes. This qualitative study, embedded within Shamba Maisha (NCT02815579)—a randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the impact of a multisectoral intervention among farmers living with HIV in western Kenya—sought to explore the influence of perceived access to and control of land on agricultural productivity, investments, and benefits. Thirty in-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted with purposively sampled men and women, 3 to 6 months after receiving intervention inputs; data were deductively and inductively coded and analyzed. Farming practices and participation in Shamba Maisha were dependent on land tenure and participants’ perceived strength of claim over their land, with participants who perceived themselves to be land insecure less likely to make long-term agricultural investments. Land tenure was influenced by a number of factors and posed unique challenges for women which negatively impacted uptake and success in the intervention. Data underscore the importance of secure land tenure for the success of similar interventions, especially for women; future interventions should integrate land security programming for improved outcomes for all.
Few studies have focused on understanding pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) non-initiation among young, high-risk women in sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to qualitatively explore why young women in Kenya at high-risk for HIV chose not to enroll in a PrEP adherence trial. We performed 40 semi-structured interviews with young high-risk women assessing concerns about PrEP and/or study participation. We also assessed community-level factors influencing decision-making around PrEP through 10 focus groups involving peers, young men, caregivers, and community leaders. Our qualitative data reflect the complexity of navigating barriers preventing PrEP initiation in settings where taking PrEP may be perceived as immoral behavior. Framed within the context of risk perception, the decision to start PrEP may run counter to the potential risk of losing support from one's community. Our findings suggest that approaches addressing social norms, while de-medicalizing HIV prevention services, are needed to further increase PrEP uptake among young Kenyan women.
Black women living with HIV (BWLWH) face intersectional adversities impacting their wellbeing. This study utilized network analysis to assess the associations among adversities linked to racism, sexism, HIV stigma, and socioeconomic status (income, housing, education) and determine which adversities predict mental health outcomes, HIV viral load, and medication adherence more consistently among BWLWH. 119 BWLWH aged 18 years or older completed self-report measures on sociodemographics, adversity factors, and mental health outcomes. Viral load count was obtained through blood draws, and medication adherence was measured via Wisepill adherence monitoring device. Multiple regression analysis was used to assess if the more central factors in the network also predicted health outcomes more consistently than the less central factors. The four most central factors in the network were income, housing, gendered racial microaggression (GRM) frequency, and GRM appraisal. Multiple regression analysis revealed that GRM frequency, GRM appraisal, and the number of traumas contributed uniquely and were positively associated with both depressive symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. HIV-related discrimination contributed uniquely and was positively associated with HIV viral load.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) interventions are increasingly prevalent on social media. These data can be mined for insights about PrEP that may not be as apparent in surveys including personal musings about PrEP and barriers/facilitators to PrEP uptake. This study explores online discourse about PrEP using an interdisciplinary public health and computational informatics approach. We collected (N = 4,020) tweets using Twitter’s Application Programming Interface (API). These data underwent a three-step neural network/deep learning process to identify clusters within these tweets and relative similarity/dissimilarity between clusters. We identified 25 distinct clusters from our original collection of tweets. These clusters represent general information about PrEP, how PrEP is communicated among diverse groups, and potential pockets of misinformation and disinformation regarding PrEP. Specific clusters of interest include discussions of medication side effects, social perception of PrEP usage, and concerns with costs and barriers to access of PrEP interventions. Our approach revealed diverse ways PrEP is contextualized online. Importantly this information can be leveraged to identify points of possible intervention for disinformation and misinformation about PrEP.
People with HIV (PWH) who inject drugs often experience coexisting HIV- and substance use-related stigma manifestations. We assessed correlates of HIV stigma (Berger HIV stigma scale), substance use stigma (Substance Abuse Self-stigma scale) and intersectional HIV and substance use stigma in a cohort of PWH with a lifetime history of drug use in St. Petersburg, Russia. Intersectional stigma was defined as having a score greater than the median for both forms of stigma. Of the 208 participants, 56 (27%) had intersectional stigma. Depressive symptoms and alcohol dependence were significantly associated with a higher HIV and substance stigma score, but not with intersectional stigma. Individual and community interventions to reduce the impact of HIV stigma and substance use stigma affecting PWH who inject drugs should consider assessing and addressing mental health and unhealthy substance use. Further work with longitudinal data is needed to understand mechanisms leading to intersectional stigma.
Annual screening for bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STI), including gonorrhea/chlamydia (GC/CT) and syphilis, is recommended for persons with HIV (PWH). We used the prevention index to quantify the extent to which STI screening was completed at guideline-recommended frequency in African American and Latinx persons, women, persons with alcohol (AUD) and substance (SUD) use disorders. Data from PWH at Kaiser Permanente Northern California were collected from electronic health records. We defined receipt of GC/CT and syphilis screening consistent with recommendations as a prevention index score ≥ 75%. Among 9655 PWH (17.7% Latinx; 16.2% African American; 9.6% female; 12.4% AUD; 22.1% SUD), prevention index scores for GC/CT and syphilis increased from 2015 to 2019. African American PWH had lower odds of receiving an annual syphilis screen (aOR 0.87 [95% CI 0.79–0.97]). Female sex was associated with lower odds of GC/CT (aOR 0.30 [95% CI 0.27–0.34]) and syphilis (aOR 0.27 [95% CI 0.24–0.310) screening. AUD and SUD were not associated with differences in annual GC/CT or syphilis screening. Key PWH subgroups experience ongoing challenges to annual STI screening despite comparable healthcare access.
Late presentation to HIV care, i.e., presenting with < 200 CD4 cells/mL, is associated with higher mortality and worse outcomes. Despite that, a quarter of people living with HIV in Uganda still present late to care. We surveyed Ugandans living with HIV who enrolled in clinic ≤ 90 days prior. We compared groups who presented 'late' with CD4 < 200 and 'early' with CD4 > 350, stratifying by sex. We found men who presented late had higher externalized stigma than early presenters. Thirty-six percent of the entire cohort were depressed. Social support was stronger in late presenters versus early, although weak overall. Social support was inversely correlated with depression, with social support dropping as depression increased. Interventions to improve clinic privacy, reduce stigma, improve social support, and help women disclose their HIV status to male partners are needed to reduce late presentation to HIV care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated adaptations in how healthcare services are rendered. However, it is unclear how these adaptations have impacted HIV healthcare services across the United States. We conducted a systematic review to assess the impacts of the pandemic on service engagement, treatment adherence, and viral suppression. We identified 26 total studies spanning the beginning of the pandemic (March 11, 2020) up until November 5, 2021. Studies were conducted at the national, state, and city levels and included representation from all four CDC HIV surveillance regions. Studies revealed varying impacts of the pandemic on HIV healthcare retention/engagement, medication adherence, and viral suppression rates, including decreases in HIV healthcare visits, provider cancellations, and inability to get prescription refills. Telehealth was critical to ensuring continued access to care and contributed to improved retention and engagement in some studies. Disparities existed in who had access to the resources needed for telehealth, as well as among populations living with HIV whose care was impacted by the pandemic.
HIV stigma is associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes. Intersectional stigma among persons living with HIV (PLHIV) results from interrelated, synergistic impacts of experiencing multiple stigma forms. Its relation with mental health outcomes is still an emerging area of study in this key population. This study aimed to evaluate associations of intersectional stigma, defined as endorsing high levels of HIV and substance use stigmas, with depressive and anxiety symptoms in a cohort of 111 PLHIV who inject drugs in St. Petersburg, Russia. Over a third of participants (37%) reported experiencing intersectional stigma (i.e., both stigma scores above the median). In adjusted analysis, lower Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale (PHQ-9) scores (beta (β=-4.31, 95% CI: -7.11 – -1.51, p = 0.003) and Generalized Anxiety Disorders Scale (GAD-7) scores (β=-3.64, 95% CI: -5.57 – -1.71, p < 0.001) were associated with having low scores for both HIV and substance use stigmas. Lower PHQ-9 scores (β=-3.46, 95% CI: -5.72 – -1.19, p = 0.003) and GAD-7 scores (β=-3.06, 95% CI: -4.62 – -1.50, p < 0.001) were also associated with high stigma on either HIV or substance use stigma scales. Controlling for demographics, depressive symptoms approximately linearly increased from both forms of stigma low to experiencing either form of stigma high to experiencing intersectional stigma, while levels of anxiety symptoms were comparable among participants with both types of stigma low and one stigma high. Participants who experienced intersectional stigma reported the greatest severity of both depressive and anxiety symptoms, as compared to individuals who endorsed low stigma scores (i.e., low stigma on both HIV and substance use stigma scales) or high scores of only one form of stigma. This suggests that intersectional stigma in this population of PLHIV who inject drugs in Russia is linked with worsened mental health outcomes, exceeding the effects of experiencing one form of stigma alone. Interventions to help people cope with intersectional stigma need to consider affective symptoms and tailor coping strategies to address impacts of multiple forms of mental health distress.
HIV remains a threat to global public health, disproportionately affecting countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. Although treatment and access to care have improved, prevention remains critical to ending new HIV infections by 2030. A variety of prevention strategies exist, yet their effectiveness is difficult to measure and variable due to the nature of the interventions and vulnerability of the intervention during implementation. This systematic review of 51 studies synthesizes data on the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based HIV prevention interventions across Sub-Saharan Africa. Studies were included if they occurred between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2019, inclusive in Sub-Saharan Africa, were written in English, implemented an HIV prevention intervention in the field, and had reportable results. Using a modified social-ecological model for HIV prevention, we divided studies into three categories: interventions targeting health systems (n = 16), communities (n = 8), and individuals (n = 27). Across all categories, the data emphasized preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), medical interventions, and psychosocial interventions. The most successful programs bundled several interventions that were integrated into the health system. There is a notable lack of interventions targeting key populations and there are significant rates of loss to follow up (LTFU) across many studies. This review provides insight into the prioritization of evidence-based HIV prevention interventions across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Access to care is essential for people with HIV (PWH) but may have been affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of adult PWH receiving care in a large southeastern comprehensive care clinic in the United States. Patients in care between January 1, 2017, and July 30, 2020, were included. Race/ethnicity, sex, HIV-1 RNA, CD4 + lymphocyte count were included as baseline covariates. Outcomes included clinic attendance, receipt of HIV-1 RNA PCR testing, and virologic suppression (HIV-1 RNA < 200 copies/mL); outpatient encounters included new patient encounters, follow-up visits, and mental health encounters. Total medical encounters, including telemedicine, decreased by 827 visits (33%) when comparing the second quarters of 2019 and 2020. New patient encounters decreased by 23.5% from 81 to 62 during this period. The second quarter of 2020 saw the lowest number of new patient visits since 2017. HIV-1 RNA testing and the proportion of patients with virologic suppression decreased during the pandemic (p < 0.001 for both). Total mental health encounters, on the other hand, increased by 14% during April-June 2020 compared to April-June 2019. Mental health electronic communications increased by 60% from 312 to 500 during the same period, with a 20% increase in medication refills. The COVID-19 pandemic affected outpatient visits, viral load surveillance, and virologic suppression but led to an increase in mental health encounters in a comprehensive care clinic setting.
This paper reports the results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to assess the efficacy of Nexus, a telehealth delivered intervention that combines Couples’ HIV counseling and testing (CHTC) with home-based HIV-testing, examining the impact of the intervention on the couples’ formation and adherence to safer sexual agreements. Between 2016 and 2018, 424 couples were recruited online from the U.S and randomized to the intervention arm (a telehealth delivered CHTC session with two home HIV-testing kits) or a control arm (two home HIV-testing kits), with study assessments at baseline, 3 and 6 months. Outcomes were the formation and adherence to safer sexual agreements, dyadic discordance in sexual agreements, breakage of sexual agreements, and perceptions of PrEP. Couples in the intervention arm had significantly greater odds of reporting a safer sexual agreement (3 months OR 1.87, p-value 0.005, and 6 months OR 1.84, p-value 0.007), lower odds of reporting discordant sexual agreements at 6 months (OR 0.62, p-value 0.048), and a significantly lower odds of reporting breaking their sexual agreement (3 months OR 0.51, p-value 0.035, and 6 months OR 0.23, p-value 0.000). By 6 months, couples in the intervention arm were less likely to say PrEP was beneficial to one (RRR 0.33, P = 0.000) or both of them (RRR 0.29, P = 0.000) than being beneficial to neither of the partners. The high levels of acceptability and efficacy of the intervention demonstrate strong potential for the scale-up of this efficacious intervention that is delivered through a low-cost telehealth platform.
Clinical follow-up in people living with HIV (PLWH) has individual and public health implications. The objectives of this study were to measure variables related to follow-up failures, identify self-reported reasons to maintain adequate follow-up or for having follow-up failures, and know how the pandemic influenced patients’ clinical follow-up. Participants were PLWH receiving HIV-health care at a hospital-based clinic in Mexico City which became an exclusive COVID-19 health service. Participants completed a telephone semi-structured interview and online psychological questionnaires. Lower educational and socioeconomic level, longer times of transportation to the clinic, being attended by different doctors, detectable viral load, having previous dropouts, inadequate antiretroviral adherence, and less HIV knowledge were related to follow-up failures. COVID-19 had a significant negative impact, but it also had positive repercussions for patients with adequate follow-up. These results could help develop effective psychosocial programs and improve healthcare in institutions to facilitate patient retention.
To support translation of evidence-based interventions into practice for HIV patients at high risk of treatment failure, we conducted qualitative research in Cape Town, South Africa. After local health officials vetted interventions as potentially scalable, we held 41 in-depth interviews with patients with elevated viral load or a 3-month treatment gap at community clinics, followed by focus group discussions (FGDs) with 20 providers (physicians/nurses, counselors, and community health care workers). Interviews queried treatment barriers, solutions, and specific intervention options, including motivational text messages, data-informed counseling, individual counseling, peer support groups, check-in texts, and treatment buddies. Based on patients’ preferences, motivational texts and treatment buddies were removed from consideration in subsequent FGDs. Patients most preferred peer support groups and check-in texts while individual counseling garnered the broadest support among providers. Check-in texts, peer support groups, and data-informed counseling were also endorsed by provider sub-groups. These strategies warrant attention for scale-up in South Africa and other resource-constrained settings.
We examined PrEP use, condomless anal sex (CAS), and PrEP adherence among men who have sex with men (MSM) attending sexual health clinics in Wales, UK. In addition, we explored the association between the introduction of measures to control transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on these outcomes. We conducted an ecological momentary assessment study of individuals in receipt of PrEP in Wales. Participants used an electronic medication cap to record PrEP use and completed weekly sexual behaviour surveys. We defined adherence to daily PrEP as the percentage of CAS episodes covered by daily PrEP (preceded by ≥ 3 days of PrEP and followed by ≥ 2 days). Sixty participants were recruited between September 2019 and January 2020. PrEP use data prior to the introduction of control measures were available over 5785 person-days (88%) and following their introduction 7537 person-days (80%). Data on CAS episodes were available for 5559 (85%) and 7354 (78%) person-days prior to and following control measures respectively. Prior to the introduction of control measures, PrEP was taken on 3791/5785 (66%) days, there were CAS episodes on 506/5559 (9%) days, and 207/406 (51%) of CAS episodes were covered by an adequate amount of daily PrEP. The introduction of pandemic-related control measures was associated with a reduction in PrEP use (OR 0.44, 95%CI 0.20–0.95), CAS (OR 0.35, 95%CI 0.17–0.69), and PrEP adherence (RR = 0.55, 95%CI 0.34–0.89) and this may have implications for the health and wellbeing of PrEP users and, in addition to disruption across sexual health services, may contribute to wider threats across the HIV prevention cascade.
Children living with HIV (HIV+) experience increased risk of neurocognitive deficits, but standardized cognitive testing is limited in low-resource, high-prevalence settings. The Penn Computerized Neurocognitive Battery (PennCNB) was adapted for use in Botswana. This study evaluated the criterion validity of a locally adapted version of the PennCNB among a cohort of HIV+ individuals aged 10–17 years in Botswana. Participants completed the PennCNB and a comprehensive professional consensus assessment consisting of pencil-and-paper psychological assessments, clinical interview, and review of academic performance. Seventy-two participants were classified as cases (i.e., with cognitive impairment; N = 48) or controls (i.e., without cognitive impairment; N = 24). Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and the area under receiver operating characteristic curves were calculated. Discrimination was acceptable, and prediction improved as the threshold for PennCNB impairment was less conservative. This research contributes to the validation of the PennCNB for use among children affected by HIV in Botswana.
PrEP is highly effective for HIV prevention but requires adequate adherence. In this paper we use the perceptions and practicalities approach (PAPA) to identify factors that influenced PrEP adherence using qualitative data from the PROUD study. From February 2014 to January 2016, we interviewed 41 gay, bisexual and other men-who-have-sex-with-men and one trans woman who were enrolled in the study. We purposively recruited participants for interview based on trial arm allocation, adherence and sexual risk behaviours. The interviews were conducted in English, audio-recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed using framework analysis. Participants in general were highly motivated to use and adhere to PrEP, and this was linked to strong perceptions of personal necessity for PrEP as they felt at risk of HIV and viewed PrEP as highly effective. On the other hand, concerns about side effects and HIV resistance did inhibit PrEP initiation and adherence although this was uncommon. Practical factors such as daily routine, existing habitual pill-taking and pill storage impacted adherence. Drug and alcohol use rarely caused participants to miss doses. These findings indicate that using the principals of PAPA to unpick influencers of PrEP use, could help tailor adherence support in PrEP programmes.
We aimed to identify factors associated with linkage to care for individuals newly diagnosed with HIV in a refugee settlement. This study was conducted from October 2018 through January 2020 in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda. We conducted a cross-sectional survey among individuals accessing routine HIV testing services. The survey included questions on demographic factors, physical and mental health conditions, social support, and HIV-related stigma. We collected GPS coordinates of the homes of individuals newly diagnosed with HIV. Associations with linkage to care were assessed using bivariate and multivariable analyses. Linkage to care was defined as clinic attendance within 90 days of a positive HIV test, not including the day of testing. Network analysis was used to estimate the travel distance between participants’ homes and HIV clinic and to spatially characterize participants living with HIV and their levels of social support. Of 219 participants diagnosed with HIV (out of 5,568 participants screened), 74.4% linked to HIV care. Those who reported higher social support had higher odds of linking to care compared with those who reported lower social support. On spatial analysis, lower levels of social support were most prevalent in Nakivale Refugee Settlement itself, with more robust social support southeast and west of the study area. Social support is a salient correlate of linkage to care for individuals living in refugee settlements and could be the focus of an intervention for improving uptake of HIV care services.
Inequities in pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) experiences will impede HIV epidemic elimination among gay and bisexual men (GBM). Ethnicity is a strong marker of inequity in the United States, but evidence from other countries is lacking. We investigated experiences on-PrEP to 12 months follow-up in a prospective cohort of 150 GBM in Auckland, New Zealand with an equity quota of 50% non-Europeans. Retention at 12 months was 85.9%, lower among Māori/Pacific (75.6%) than non-Māori/Pacific participants (90.1%). Missed pills increased over time and were higher among Māori/Pacific. PrEP breaks increased, by 12 months 35.7% of Māori/Pacific and 15.7% of non-Māori/Pacific participants had done so. Condomless receptive anal intercourse partners were stable over time. STIs were common but chlamydia declined; 12-month incidence was 8.7% for syphilis, 36.0% gonorrhoea, 46.0% chlamydia, 44.7% rectal STI, 64.0% any STI. Structural interventions and delivery innovations are needed to ensure ethnic minority GBM gain equal benefit from PrEP.
Clinical trial number ACTRN12616001387415.
The present study explored the trajectories of depressive symptoms over 12 years spanning from childhood to emerging adulthood and the between-trajectory differences in psychosocial adjustment among Chinese children (N = 492, 52.8% boys, aged 6 to 18 years at baseline) affected by parental HIV. Rebounding (12.6%), resilient (64.8%), and improving (22.6%) trajectories were identified. Individuals in the rebounding trajectory reported the highest levels of psychological distress and the lowest levels of subjective well-being, positive self-regard, and personal strengths in adulthood. Individuals in the resilient trajectory reported lower levels of psychological distress and negative affect than those in the improving trajectory. The findings support the development of programs by policymakers and practitioners to improve the psychosocial adjustment of children who have been affected by parental HIV while considering individual differences in the trajectories of depressive symptoms.
Although the HIV epidemic in Athens, Greece has reemerged and spread in men who have sex with men (MSM), state-supported PrEP programs have not been instituted. A PrEP intervention was implemented building upon an existing network cohort of MSM (308 participants; 1212 network members). A PrEP intervention cohort of 106 participants was selected based upon sex behaviors. Individual, partner, and network characteristics were compared between the cohorts. The PrEP cohort members were more highly connected and in more influential positions in the network than their peers. Further, their sexual network connections’ behaviors increased their vulnerability to HIV infection relative to the rest of the network’s sex partners. This included greater stimulant use (24.2% vs 7.0%; χ² = 28.2; p < 0.001), greater rates of at least weekly condomless sex (OR = 2.7; 95% CI 2.1–3.5; χ² = 59.2; p < 0.001) and at least weekly use of drugs or alcohol during sex (OR = 3.4; 95% CI 2.6–4.3; χ² = 89.7; p < 0.001). Finally the PrEP cohort’s social networks showed similarly increased vulnerability to seroconversion, including greater rates of injection drug use (4.1% vs 0.5%; χ² = 3.9; p = 0.04), greater stimulant use (33.6% vs 14.6%; χ² = 16.9, p < 0.001), and higher rates of recent STIs (21.6% vs 13.1%; χ² = 4.4; p = 0.04). Thus, this PrEP intervention engaged individuals in vulnerable positions with vulnerable connections within an MSM community.
Daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can safely and effectively prevent HIV acquisition in HIV-negative individuals. However, uptake of PrEP has been suboptimal in sub-Saharan Africa. The goal of this qualitative study was to identify facilitators of and barriers to PrEP acceptability among target users not taking PrEP. Fifty-nine individuals belonging to Ugandan priority populations participated in a single in-depth interview. Participants perceived themselves as being at high risk for HIV acquisition, and expressed interest in PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy. Two forms of stigma emerged as potential barriers to PrEP use: (1) misidentification as living with HIV; and (2) disclosure of membership in a priority population. Acceptability of PrEP was dampened for this sample of potential PrEP users due to anticipated stigmatization. Mitigating stigma should be a key component of effective PrEP delivery to reach UNAIDS goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in widespread telehealth expansion. To determine telehealth uptake and potential sociodemographic differences in utilization among people with HIV (PwH), we examined HIV care appointments at the University of Chicago Medicine, an urban tertiary hospital. Visits between March 15th and September 9th for 2019 and 2020 were categorized as in-person, telehealth, and within telehealth, video, and phone. Differences in visit types were modeled using logistic regression to examine associations with demographics, insurance type, and HIV risk transmission category. Telehealth appointments were more likely for those aged 46–60 versus those 31–45 [46–60; AOR 1.89 95% CI (1.14, 3.15)]. Black race and participants of other races were less likely to use telehealth compared to whites [Black: AOR 0.33 95% CI (0.16, 0.64), other: AOR 0.10 95% CI (0.02, 0.34)]. Future studies should continue to examine potential disparities in telehealth use among PwH, including age and racial differences.
Successful use of biomedical forms of HIV risk-reduction may have predisposed many gay and bisexual men (GBM) to vaccination against COVID-19, which may, in turn, affect their sexual behavior. A total of 622 Australian GBM provided weekly data on COVID-19 vaccination history and sexual behaviour between 17 January 2021 and 22 June 2021. We identify factors associated with COVID-19 vaccination, and compare sexual behavior before and since vaccination. Mean age was 47.3 years (SD 14.0). At least one-dose vaccination coverage had reached 57.2%, and 61.3% reported that the majority of their friends intended to be vaccinated. Vaccinated men reported a mean of 1.11 (SD 2.10) weekly non-relationship sex partners before vaccination and 1.62 (SD 3.42) partners following vaccination. GBM demonstrated high confidence in COVID-19 vaccines. Their sexual activity increased following vaccination suggesting that greater sexual freedom may be a specific motivation for vaccine uptake among some men.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a vital component of comprehensive HIV prevention among female sex workers (FSW). There are limited PrEP interventions targeting FSW in the U.S., who have high HIV risk. Formative research was conducted to inform PEARL (Promoting Empowerment And Risk Reduction), a PrEP intervention for FSW in Baltimore, MD, including a community forum, key informant interviews with providers, and focus group discussions with FSW. FSW and providers acknowledged challenges to building rapport and establishing continuity in care settings. FSW reported low PrEP awareness, with high interest once aware. FSW and providers reported uptake barriers including perceived financial issues, lack of PrEP awareness, and mistrust of the pharmaceutical industry. Concerns were raised about substance use and daily PrEP adherence. Developing a tailored PrEP intervention for FSW necessitates multiple perspectives (e.g. FSW, service providers). Resumen La profilaxis preexposición (PrEP) es un componente vital de la prevención integral del VIH para las trabajadoras sexuales (TSF). En los Estados Unidos, hay pocas intervenciones de PrEP dirigidas a las TSF, quienes experiencian un riesgo elevado de contraer el VIH. Se realizó una investigación formativa para informar a PEARL (Promoción del empoderamiento y la reducción de riesgos), una intervención de PrEP para TSF en Baltimore, MD—la cual incluyó un foro comunitario, entrevistas con proveedores de servicios a las TSF y discusiones entre grupos focales de TSF. TSF y proveedores de servicio reconocieron los retos de mantener buenas relaciones y establecer continuidad en los servicios de salud. TSF exhibieron conocimiento limitado sobre la PrEP, pero expresaron gran interés en la PrEP después de estar informadas. TSF y los proveedores de servicios hablaron de barreras aceptando a la PrEP, incluyendo problemas financieros percibidos, falta de conocimiento sobre la PrEP y desconfianza en la industria farmacéutica. Se expresaron preocupaciones sobre el uso de sustancias y la adherencia diaria a la PrEP. El desarrollo de una intervención de PrEP personalizada para TSF requiere varias perspectivas (por ejemplo, TSF, proveedores de servicios).
Different strategies have been used to reach men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW) for HIV prevention services. We described the characteristics of MSM and TGW attending a large HIV prevention service in Brazil according to different recruitment strategies or referrals. A total of 2713 individuals (2246[82.8%] MSM and 467[17.2%] TGW) attended the service. Among HIV-negative MSM and TGW, 74.6% and 82.8% were eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), respectively. PrEP uptake among MSM and TGW was 56.4% and 39.1%, respectively. Participants were mostly referred by peers (43.6%), followed by web-based (24.1%) and venue-based recruitment (16.2%). More young and Black MSM were referred from venue-based recruitment, and web-based strategies more frequently referred MSM with higher education. TGW who were younger and had higher education were more frequently referred from venue-based recruitment. Web-based recruitment failed to reach TGW. Multiple strategies were complementary to reach diverse MSM and TGW populations.
Among women who exchange sex (WES), social cohesion is associated with multi-level HIV-risk reduction factors, and client condom coercion (CCC) is associated with increased HIV-risk. Sexual minority WES (SM-WES) face exacerbated HIV-risk, yet relevant research is scant. We examined the role of sexual orientation in the relationship between social cohesion and CCC among cisgender WES (n = 384) in Baltimore, Maryland using stratified logistic regression, controlling for potential confounders. Forty-five percent of WES experienced CCC. SM-WES reported significantly higher social cohesion than heterosexual WES. The relationship between social cohesion and CCC differed by sexual orientation. Among SM-WES, higher social cohesion was independently associated with decreased odds of experiencing CCC, controlling for food insecurity, crack use, police harassment, and method of finding clients. Among heterosexual WES, no significant association was found. Ongoing research and practice with WES should (1) collect sexual orientation data to allow for deeper understanding and tailored interventions, (2) leverage and nurture social cohesion and (3) tailor interventions to populations with attention to sexual orientation.
In Ghana, HIV status disclosure to partners is voluntary. This study sought to determine the factors associated with HIV status disclosure to partners among antiretroviral therapy (ART) clients in the Upper East Region. A matched case–control study (1:1) was carried out in nine ART sites in the Upper East region in which 100 ART sexually active clients who had not disclosed their status to their partners were compared with 100 ART sexually ART clients who had disclosed their status to their partners. To each of the 200 study participants, a structured questionnaire was administered to elicit relevant responses. Discordant pair analysis was done with Mantel–Haenszel matched test to determine associations between variables. The study found persons with informal education more likely to disclose HIV status, whereas persons living apart or not having children with a partner were less likely to disclose their status to their sexual partners. On the other hand, active involvement or participation in ART-related services were more likely going to impact HIV status disclosure. Early initiation of ART, while adherence to ART services and the use of treatment monitors were less associated with disclosure. Active participation in ART related services such as prompt initiation of ART following diagnosis, adherence promotion, and treatment monitoring should be encouraged to promote HIV status disclosure among sexual partners.
Food insecurity disproportionately affects rural communities and people living with HIV (PLHIV). The Food Access Pilot Project (FAPP) was a California state-funded program that provided home-delivered, medically supportive meals via online meal vendors to food-insecure PLHIV in three rural counties. We performed longitudinal, retrospective analyses of FAPP participant data (n = 158; 504 and 460 person-time observations for viral load and CD4 count, respectively) over 36 months from a Ryan White client management database. Pre-post analyses demonstrated increased prevalence of food security and CD4 ≥ 500 between baseline and 12 months. Population-averaged trends using generalized estimating equations adjusted for participant demographics demonstrated increased odds of viral suppression and CD4 ≥ 500, and increased CD4 count (cells/mm ³ ) for every six months of program enrollment. Home-delivered, medically supportive meals may improve food security status, HIV viral suppression, and immune health for low-income PLHIV in rural settings.
HIV incidence among women in Eastern and Southern Africa remains unacceptably high, highlighting the need for effective HIV prevention options, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes trial offered daily oral PrEP to participants during the latter part of the clinical trial as an additional HIV prevention choice. We explored daily oral PrEP continuation at trial exit among women enrolled from Durban, South Africa who initiated oral PrEP at the trial site. Of the 132 women initiating oral PrEP, 87% reported continuation of oral PrEP at month 1, 80% at month 3, and 75% continued using oral PrEP at their final trial visit and were referred to off-site facilities for ongoing oral PrEP access. The median duration of oral PrEP use in trial participants who used oral PrEP was 91 days (IQR 87 to 142 days). Women who disclosed their oral PrEP use to someone had increased odds of continuing oral PrEP at trial exit. Women who reported > 1 sex partner and those who felt they would probably or definitely get infected with HIV had reduced odds of continuing oral PrEP at trial exit. Of those discontinuing oral PrEP (n = 32), > 50% discontinued within the first month, and the most common reason for discontinuation was reporting side effects. The high rates of oral PrEP continuation in our study are encouraging and our findings can be utilized by other clinical trials providing oral PrEP as standard of care for HIV prevention and by oral PrEP implementation programmes.
We used the Practical, Robust Implementation and Sustainability Model to evaluate implementation of South Africa’s Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD) program, a differentiated service delivery program which allows clinically stable HIV-positive patients to receive antiretroviral therapy refills at clinic- or community-based pick-up points. Across ten clinics, we conducted 109 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders (pick-up point staff, CCMDD service providers and administrators) and 16 focus groups with 138 patients. Participants had highly favorable attitudes and said CCMDD decreased stigma concerns. Patient-level barriers included inadequate education about CCMDD and inability to get refills on designated dates. Organizational-level barriers included challenges with communication and transportation, errors in medication packaging and tracking, rigid CCMDD rules, and inadequate infrastructure. Recommendations included: (1) provide patient education and improve communication around refills (at the patient level); (2) provide dedicated space and staff, and ongoing training (at the organizational/clinic level); and (3) allow for prescription renewal at pick-up points and less frequent refills, and provide feedback to clinics (at the CCMDD program level).
Trans women living with HIV (TWH) have suboptimal HIV care engagement. We pilot tested Trans Amigas, a theory-based, trans-specific peer navigation (PN) intervention to address barriers to care in São Paulo, Brazil. TWH were randomized to the PN intervention (n = 75) or control (n = 38) condition. Control participants were referred to trans-friendly HIV care. Intervention participants were assigned a navigator who conducted nine in-person one-on-one sessions and bi-weekly phone or text check-ins to help participants overcome barriers to care and work towards gender affirmation and healthcare goals. We followed participants for 9 months to determine intervention feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy in improving retention in care. Analyses were intention to treat (ITT). Intervention acceptability was high: at end line, 85.2% of PN participants said they would continue receiving services and 94.4% would recommend peer navigation to a friend. A priori feasibility criteria were met: 92% of eligible participants enrolled and 70% were retained at 9 months; however, only 47% achieved moderate or better adherence to both in-person and phone/text program components. Though the pilot was not powered for efficacy, ITT findings trended toward significance, with intervention participants 40% more likely to be retained in care at the end of the study. Population-specific peer programming to support care engagement is acceptable, feasible, and can improve HIV outcomes for Trans women living with HIV.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created increased need for telehealth appointments. To assess differences in appointment adherence for telehealth compared to in-person HIV medical care visits, we conducted a cross-sectional study of patients receiving HIV care in a safety-net hospital-based outpatient infectious disease clinic in a large urban area (Chicago, IL). The sample (N = 347) was predominantly Black (n = 251) and male (62.5%, n = 217); with a mean age of 44.2 years. Appointment attendance was higher for telehealth (78.9%) compared to in-person (61.9%) appointments. Compared to patients without drug use, those with drug use had 19.4 percentage point lower in-person appointment attendance. Compared to those with stable housing, those in unstable housing arrangements had 15.0 percentage point lower in-person appointment attendance. Telehealth as a modality will likely have some staying power as it offers patients newfound flexibility, but barriers to telehealth need to be assessed and addressed.
Studies have consistently shown that diagnosis of a syphilis infection increases the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. This study examines patterns in HIV incidence among men following a Primary and Secondary (P&S) syphilis diagnosis. P&S syphilis cases among men reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services between January 2010 and June 2018 were linked to the Enhanced HIV/AIDS Reporting System. Risk factors for HIV diagnosis were identified using univariate and multivariate extended Cox proportional hazards models. The 9113 men with syphilis without a concurrent or prior HIV diagnosis contributed a cumulative 35,674 person-years with a mean follow-up time of 3.9 years. The multivariate model showed that among men with a P&S syphilis diagnosis, age, race/ethnicity, transmission risk, comorbid STDs, subsequent STDs, and syphilis diagnosing facility were independently associated with a new HIV diagnosis. The results highlight disparities in HIV diagnoses, despite current prevention recommendations. Reducing these disparities will require multi-level, comprehensive interventions that are appropriate for the diverse populations around the state.
Persons living with HIV (PWH) are at elevated risk for suicide. We conducted a systematic literature review following PRISMA-P guidelines to examine risk factors associated with suicide as a cause of morbidity among PWH. We searched six electronic databases using search terms (suicide, suicide attempt, self-harm, self-injurious behavior, HIV, AIDS, PWH). We focused on factors that were specific to HIV infection (CD4 count, HIV-1 RNA, and antiretroviral therapy [ART]). The initial search yielded N = 2657 studies. Eligible studies included suicide as an outcome, quantitative study design, and publication in peer-reviewed journals from 1996 through 2020. Fourteen studies met inclusion criteria. PWH share risk factors for suicide found in the general population: psychiatric illness, previous suicide attempt, drug and alcohol misuse. PWH also have HIV-specific risk factors for suicide. HIV diagnosis in the past two years and transmission related to injection drug use were associated with increased risk; HIV-1 RNA, ART, and AIDS-defining illness were not.
HIV/HCV risk behavior among women who use drugs is often exacerbated within high risk networks. The use of social media platforms such as Facebook to identify sex partners within these high-risk networks has not been examined among rural Appalachian women who use drugs. This paper provides an exploratory examination of Facebook use to identify sex partners among rural Appalachian women who use drugs, as well as associated risky sexual practices. Rural Appalachian women were randomly selected from two rural jails, consented, screened for eligibility (including drug use), and interviewed prior to jail release. Findings indicated that using Facebook to meet sex partners was associated with exchanging sex for drugs or money and having a male casual partner during the same time frame. These study findings suggest that the use of social media for high-risk sexual practices may provide a valuable platform for intervention delivery, particularly in resource-deprived areas where formal prevention and treatment services are limited.
Screening and assessing alcohol use accurately to maximize positive treatment outcomes remain problematic in regions with high rates of alcohol use and HIV and TB infections. In this study, we examined the concordance between self-reported measures of alcohol use and point-of-care (POC) urine ethyl glucuronide (uEtG) test results among persons with HIV (PWH) in Uganda who reported drinking in the prior 3 months. For analyses, we used the screening data of a trial designed to examine the use of incentives to reduce alcohol consumption and increase medication adherence to examine the concordance between POC uEtG (300 ng/mL cutoff) and six measures of self-reported alcohol use. Of the 2136 participants who completed the alcohol screening, 1080 (50.6%) tested positive in the POC uEtG test, and 1756 (82.2%) self-reported using alcohol during the prior 72 h. Seventy-two percent of those who reported drinking during the prior 24 h had a uEtG positive test, with lower proportions testing uEtG positive when drinking occurred 24–48 h (64.7%) or 48–72 h (28.6%) prior to sample collection. In multivariate models, recency of drinking, number of drinks at last alcohol use, and Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test – Consumption (AUDIT-C) score were associated with uEtG positivity. The highest area under the curve (AUC) for a uEtG positive test was for recency of drinking. Overall, we concluded that several measures of drinking were associated with POC uEtG positivity, with recency of drinking, particularly drinking within the past 24 h, being the strongest predictor of uEtG positivity.
Minority groups may face additional barriers to vaccination. In April–June 2021, we assessed the level of COVID-19 vaccination and willingness to be vaccinated in a national, online survey of 1280 gay and bisexual men in Australia. Over a quarter of the sample (28.0%) had been partially or fully vaccinated, and 80.0% of the unvaccinated were willing to be vaccinated. Vaccination was independently associated with older age, being university educated, and HIV status (with HIV-positive participants being more likely and untested participants less likely to be vaccinated). Willingness to be vaccinated was independently associated with living in a capital city and being university educated. Those who had lost income or their job due to COVID-19 were less willing to be vaccinated. Our results suggest encouraging COVID-19 vaccination among those with lower levels of health literacy and supporting those who have experienced financial stress because of the pandemic.
Although Kenya nationally scaled up oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in May 2017, adolescent girls’ (AG, aged 15–19 years) and young women’s (YW, aged 20–24 years) PrEP use remains suboptimal. Thus, we analyzed PrEP consultations—interactions with a healthcare provider about PrEP—among Kenyan AGYW. In April-June 2018, AGYW enrolled in DREAMS in Kisumu County, Kenya self-reported their HIV-related knowledge, behaviors, and service use. Among HIV negative, sexually active AG (n = 154) and YW (n = 289), we examined associations between PrEP eligibility and PrEP consultations using prevalence ratios (PR, adjusted: aPR). Most AG (90.26%) and YW (94.12%) were PrEP-eligible due to inconsistent/no condom use, violence survivorship, or recent sexually transmitted infection symptoms. Between PrEP-eligible AG and YW, more YW were ever-orphaned (58.09%), ever-married (54.41%), ever-pregnant (80.88%), and out of school (78.31%); more PrEP-eligible YW reported PrEP consultations (41.18% vs. 24.46%, aPR = 1.51 [1.01–2.27]). AG who used PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) reported more consultations (aPR = 5.63 [3.53–8.97]). Among YW, transactional sex engagers reported more consultations (58.62% vs. 39.09%, PR = 1.50 [1.06–2.12]), but only PEP use (aPR = 2.81 [2.30–3.43]) and multiple partnerships (aPR = 1.39 [1.06–1.82]) were independently associated with consultations. Consultations were lowest among those with 1 eligibility criterion (AG = 11.11%/YW = 27.18%). Comparatively, consultations were higher among AG and YW with 2 (aPR = 3.71 [1.64–8.39], PR = 1.60 [1.07–2.38], respectively) or ≥ 3 (aPR = 2.51 [1.09–5.78], PR = 2.05 [1.42–2.97], respectively) eligibility criteria. Though most AGYW were PrEP-eligible, PrEP consultations were rare and differed by age and vulnerability. In high-incidence settings, PrEP consultations should be conducted with all AGYW. PrEP provision guidelines must be re-assessed to accelerate AGYW’s PrEP access.
We evaluated whether different types of substance use predicted HIV seroconversion among a cohort of 449 Black men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW). A community-based sample was recruited in Atlanta, GA between December 2012 and November 2014. Participants completed a survey and were tested for STIs (Chlamydia and gonorrhoeae using urine samples and rectal swabs) at baseline. HIV testing was conducted at 12-months post enrollment. Multivariable binary logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for associations between substance use and HIV seroconversion. By 12-month follow-up, 5.3% (n = 24) of participants seroconverted. In multivariable analyses, daily marijuana use was positively associated with HIV seroconversion (aOR 3.07, 95% CI 1.11–8.48, P = 0.030). HIV incidence was high and daily marijuana use was associated with a more than threefold increased odds of HIV seroconversion among a community-based cohort of Black MSM and TGW.
Positive psychological attributes are associated with better health outcomes, yet few studies have identified their underlying constructs and none have examined their temporal trajectories in clinical vs. non-clinical samples. From data collected over 4 years from people with HIV (PWH) and HIV-uninfected (HIV−) participants, we identified two latent factors (internal strengths; socioemotional support) based on responses to seven positive psychological attributes. Internal strengths increased over 4 years for PWH, but not for HIV− comparisons. Socioemotional support did not change significantly in either group. Lower internal strengths and worse socioemotional support were related to greater depressive symptoms. We speculate that improvement in internal strengths in PWH could reflect their being in care, but this requires further study to include PWH not in care. Given the apparent malleability of internal strengths and their association with improved health outcomes, these attributes can serve as promising intervention targets for PWH.
Men have higher rates of attrition from antiretroviral therapy (ART) programs than women. In Khayelitsha, a high HIV prevalence area in South Africa, two public sector primary healthcare clinics offer services, including HIV testing and treatment, exclusively to men. We compared attrition from ART care among men initiating ART at these clinics with male attrition in six general primary healthcare clinics in Khayelitsha. We described baseline characteristics of patients initiating ART at the male and general clinics from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2018. We used exposure propensity scores (generated based on baseline health and age) to match male clinic patients 1:1 to males at other clinics. The association between attrition (death or loss to follow-up, defined as no visits for nine months) and clinic type was estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression. Follow-up time began at ART initiation and ended at attrition, clinic transfer, or dataset closure. Before matching, patients from male clinics (n = 784) were younger than males from general clinics (n = 2726), median age: 31.2 vs 35.5 years. Those initiating at male clinics had higher median CD4 counts at ART initiation [Male Clinic 1: 329 (IQR 210–431), Male Clinic 2: 364 (IQR 260–536), general clinics 258 (IQR 145–398), cells/mm ³ ]. In the matched analysis (1451 person-years, 1568 patients) patients initiating ART at male clinics had lower attrition (HR 0.71; 95% CI 0.60–0.85). In separate analyses for each of the two male clinics, only the more established male clinic showed a protective effect. Male-only clinics reached younger, healthier men, and had lower ART attrition than general services. These findings support clinic-specific adaptations to create more male-friendly environments.
Adherence to oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is challenging, and cellular technology offers a promising opportunity for support. However, a recent randomized controlled trial found that SMS reminders did not improve PrEP adherence. We used qualitative methods to explore the trial participants’ experiences with the SMS intervention. We conducted serial in-depth interviews with 54 young Kenyan women, using inductive and deductive content analysis . Initially, SMS reminders were highly acceptable. Participants expressed enthusiasm with receiving the reminders because of the coded nature of the SMS reminders; they also helped in ‘habit forming’ with daily adherence. However, overtime, participants reported growing concerns about privacy, self-efficacy, and responsibility and SMS fatigue. Participants also reported other challenges, including phone loss, poor telephone network, and lack of electricity. Further research to explore if SMS reminders in alternative formats or with different frequency is needed, in addition to identification of alternate adherence support strategies.
Adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically adolescent girls and young women, young men who have sex with men, transgender persons, persons who use substances, and adolescents experiencing homelessness experience intersectional stigma, have a high incidence of HIV and are less likely to be engaged in HIV prevention and care. We conducted a thematic analysis informed by the Health and Discrimination Framework using a multiple case study design with five case studies in 3 sub-Saharan African countries. Our analysis found commonalities in adolescents’ intersectional stigma experiences across cases, despite different contexts. We characterize how intersectional stigma impacts the uptake and implementation of HIV prevention and treatment services along the continuum for adolescents. Findings reveal how intersectional stigma operates across social-ecological levels and worsens HIV-related outcomes for adolescents. We identify opportunities for implementation science research to address stigma-related barriers to the uptake and delivery of HIV services for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.
Most research on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) adherence and persistence uses a deficit-based approach to identify negative influences on PrEP adherence; however, an alternative set of approaches (such as resilience, asset-based, and positive variation) may identify equally important positive influences on PrEP adherence. Thus, the current study presents qualitative perspectives of PrEP adherence strategies from a sample of adherent YMSM. PrEP-using YMSM living in the Chicago area from a larger cohort study were recruited into a 90-day diary study that measured sexual health behaviors including PrEP use. A subset (n = 28) were then recruited for in-depth interviews between April and September 2020 covering topics of PrEP use and adherence. Thematic analysis was used to interpret patterns within the data. The analytic sample (n = 19) consistently reported high levels of adherence. Adherence strategies were organized into three broader categories: psychological (e.g. mindfulness, pill auditing), technical/instrumental (e.g. automated reminders, pill organizers), and social strategies (e.g. checking in with friends, or getting suggestions from friends). The majority of participants described using multiple strategies and changing strategies to respond to barriers to adherence. Other themes that were related to adherence included having a daily medication history and a generally positive outlook toward the PrEP regimen. Those who had medication histories were able to draw from experience to develop strategies for PrEP adherence. Findings suggest the need for pre-emptive counseling for PrEP-initiators on the use of multiple strategies, how to prepare for PrEP adherence, to adapt to challenges, and to adopt a range of potential strategies for adherence.