Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine]]> vol. 20 num. 1 lang. <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Sexually transmitted infections, the silent partner in HIV-infected women in Zimbabwe</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Coinfection rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are not widely reported in Zimbabwe and no local guidelines regarding the screening of STIs in people living with HIV exist OBJECTIVES: This cross-sectional study was conducted to determine the prevalence and associated risk factors for STI coinfection in a cohort of HIV-infected women. METHODS: Between January and June 2016, 385 HIV-infected women presenting for routine cervical cancer screening were tested for five STIs: Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG), Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Trichomonas vaginalis (TV), Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) type 2 and Treponema pallidum (TP). Socio-demographic characteristics and sexual history were recorded. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with the diagnosis of non-viral STIs. RESULTS: Two hundred and thirty-three participants (60.5%) had a confirmed positive result for at least one STI: HSV 2 prevalence 52.5%, TV 8.1%, CT 2.1%, NG 1.8% and TP 11.4%. Eighty-seven per cent of the women were asymptomatic for any STI; 62.3% of women with a non-viral STI were asymptomatic. Women who had attended tertiary education were 90% less likely to have a non-viral STI (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 0.10, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.03-0.39, p < 0.01). Having more than three lifetime sexual partners was a significant predictor for a non-viral STI diagnosis (aOR: 3.3, 95% CI: 1.5-7.2, p < 0.01. CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of predominantly asymptomatic STIs is reported in a cohort of HIV-infected women. Syndromic management results in underdiagnosis of asymptomatic patients. More than three lifetime sexual partners and less formal education are risk factors for coinfection with non-viral STI. High-risk women should be screened using aetiological methods. <![CDATA[<b>HIV status and mortality of surgical inpatients in rural Zimbabwe: A retrospective chart review</b>]]> BACKGROUND: People living with HIV treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART) are now living longer and thus many are requiring surgical procedures. For healthcare resource planning, it would be helpful to better understand the prevalence of HIV in surgical patients, the types of surgery HIV-positive patients are undergoing and whether HIV status impacts mortality. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of HIV in surgical inpatients and the extent of ART coverage, as well as to assess any differences between HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients in type of surgery undergone and in-hospital mortality at Karanda Mission Hospital, Mount Darwin, Zimbabwe. METHOD: A 1-year retrospective chart review was undertaken to collect clinical and demographic data for adult (excluding maternity cases) and paediatric surgical inpatients including age, sex, type of surgery, HIV status, CD4+ counts and, if patient was HIV-positive, whether he or she was taking ART. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Charts for 1510 surgical inpatient stays were reviewed. HIV prevalence among the adults was higher than that in the general population in Zimbabwe in 2016 (23.2% vs. 14.7%). There was no significant difference in inpatient mortality between the HIV-negative group and the HIV-positive group. Within the group of patients with malignancies, people living with HIV were significantly younger than uninfected patients (mean age 50.5 vs. 64.4 years; p < 0.01). There were correlations between HIV and certain malignancies. Thus, in addition to AIDS-defining illnesses, clinicians must be alert to squamous cell carcinoma and oesophageal, anal and penile cancers in HIV-positive patients. <![CDATA[<b>Targeted mentoring for human immunodeficiency virus programme support in South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Mentoring is a required component of health systems strengthening technical assistance interventions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Mentoring is useful because it does not necessarily compromise service delivery and promotes the sharing of newly acquired knowledge and skills. However, there is a lack of research on the implementation of mentoring in the context of the HIV epidemic in southern Africa. OBJECTIVES: This qualitative evaluation focussed on understanding the implementation process of targeted mentoring for clinical practice, data management and pharmacy management, at public health care facilities in South Africa; and on identifying critical factors influencing the effectiveness of mentoring as a technical assistance intervention in this context. METHODS: Purposive sampling was used to select participants from public health facilities in three South African Provinces. Participants were invited to take part in structured interviews. Datawere analysed using thematic analysis, and two core themes were identified: mentoring as knowledge and skills transfer; and mentoring as psychosocial support. RESULTS: In terms of knowledge and skills transfer, the sequential implementation of proactive and reactive mentoring was critical. Initial proactive mentoring involved mentors initiating training and developing professional relationships with mentees. Thereafter, a reactive mentoring phase allowed mentees to request support when required. This enabled mentors to leverage real-world problems faced by health workers to support their implementation of new knowledge and skills. The availability and accessibility of mentors alongside the relationships between mentors and mentees provided psychosocial support for health care workers which facilitated their self-efficacy in implementing new knowledge and skills. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that the success of mentoring programmes in LMICs may require specific attention to both knowledge transfer and the management of interpersonal relationships <![CDATA[<b>HIV-associated cavernous sinus disease</b>]]> INTRODUCTION: The underlying diagnosis of cavernous sinus disease is difficult to confirm in HIV-coinfected patients owing to the lack of histological confirmation. In this retrospective case series, we highlight the challenges in confirming the diagnosis and managing these patients. RESULTS: The clinical, laboratory and radiological data of 23 HIV-infected patients with cavernous sinus disease were analysed. The mean age of patients was 38 years. The mean CD4+ count was 390 cells/μL. Clinically, patients presented with unilateral disease (65%), headache (48%), diplopia (30%) and blurred vision (30%). Third (65%) and sixth (57%) nerve palsies in isolation and combination (39%) were most common. Isolated fourth nerve palsy did not occur. Tuberculosis (17%) was the most commonly identified disorder followed by high-grade B-cell lymphoma (13%), meningioma (13%), metastatic carcinoma (13%) and neurosyphilis (7%). In 22% of the patients, there was no confirmatory evidence for a diagnosis. The patients were either treated empirically for tuberculosis or improved spontaneously when antiretroviral therapy was started. Cerebrospinal fluid was helpful in 4/13 (31%) of patients where it was not contraindicated. Only 3/23 (13%) of the patients had a biopsy of the cavernous sinus mass. The outcomes varied, and follow-up was lacking in the majority of patients. CONCLUSION: In HIV-infected patients, histological confirmation of cavernous sinus pathology is not readily available for various reasons. In resource-limited settings, one should first actively search for extracranial evidence of tuberculosis, lymphoma, syphilis and primary malignancy and manage appropriately. Only if such evidence is lacking should a referral for biopsy be considered. <![CDATA[<b>HIV viraemia during pregnancy in women receiving preconception antiretroviral therapy in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Preconception antiretroviral therapy (PCART) followed by sustained viral suppression is effective in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The rates of persistent and transient viraemia in such patients have not been prospectively assessed in South Africa OBJECTIVES: We determined the prevalence of transient and persistent viraemia in HIV-positive women entering antenatal care on PCART and studied variables associated with viraemia METHODS: We performed a prospective cross-sectional observational study of HIV-positive pregnant women presenting to a primary healthcare facility in KwaZulu-Natal. All had received at least 6 months of first-line PCART. Viral load (VL) was measured, patients were interviewed, adherence estimated using a visual analogue scale and adherence counselling provided. Viral load was repeated after 4 weeks where baseline VL exceeded 50 copies/mL RESULTS: We enrolled 82 participants. Of them, 59 (72%) pregnancies were unplanned. Fifteen participants (18.3%) were viraemic at presentation with VL &gt; 50 copies/mL. Of these, seven (8.5%) had viral suppression (VL < 50 copies/mL), and eight remained viraemic at the second visit. Adherence correlated significantly with viraemia at baseline. Level of knowledge correlated with adherence but not with lack of viral suppression at baseline. Socio-economic indicators did not correlate with viraemia. No instances of vertical transmission were observed at birth CONCLUSIONS: Approximately 20% of women receiving PCART may demonstrate viraemia. Half of these may be transient. Poor adherence is associated with viraemia, and efforts to encourage and monitor adherence are essential. The rate of unplanned pregnancies is high, and antiretroviral therapy programmes should focus on family planning needs of women in the reproductive age group to prevent viral non-suppression prior to pregnancy <![CDATA[<b>Comparison of non-invasive methods of assessing liver fibrosis in combination ART-experienced Zimbabweans</b>]]> BACKGROUND: The prevalence of morbidity and mortality associated with liver disease among HIV-infected individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) is high. Early screening of liver disease is essential, as it provides an opportunity for successful treatment. Hence, there is a need for reliable, inexpensive and non-invasive early markers of hepatic damage OBJECTIVES: Non-invasive algorithms are available for assessing the extent of liver fibrosis as markers of ongoing inflammatory damage. This study compared the use of the FibroTest, Fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) index, APRI test and AST:ALT ratio in assessing liver fibrosis in combination ART-experienced individuals METHODS: In a comparative cross-sectional study, 79 participants between the ages of 8 and 62 years were recruited. The performance of each fibrosis algorithm was determined using established cut-off scores for clinically significant liver fibrosis RESULTS: The prevalence of liver fibrosis as determined by the FibroTest, FIB-4 index, APRI test and AST: ALT ratio were 19.0%, 21.5%, 12.7% and 79.7%, respectively. For individual biomarkers, A-2M concentration (p < 0.001) and AST activity (p = 0.003) remained significantly elevated in participants with fibrosis than those without as defined by FibroTest and APRI test, respectively, after adjustments for multiple comparisons CONCLUSION: Our data demonstrate a high prevalence of asymptomatic liver fibrosis among combination ART-experienced individuals in Zimbabwe, and this warrants adequate monitoring of liver fibrosis in individuals on ART. Discordance of fibrosis results among the algorithms and individual biomarkers and calls for further work in identifying optimal biomarkers for detection of asymptomatic fibrosis <![CDATA[<b>Correlation of hair and plasma efavirenz concentrations in HIV-positive South Africans</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Antiretroviral concentrations in hair provide a longer window of drug detection and are useful for measuring longer-term drug exposure. Efavirenz is an important component of first-line treatment in resource-limited settings, but its concentrations in hair have not been well studied. METHODS: This study is a supplementary to a randomised controlled trial of an adherence intervention using an electronic adherence measuring device. Hair and plasma samples were collected from human immunodeficiency virus-positive patients in Cape Town, South Africa. Previously validated liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry methods were used to measure efavirenz concentrations in the collected hair and plasma samples. CYP2B6 genotyping of participants was also performed. Data analysis was performed using descriptive and comparative statistics as well as regression modelling. RESULTS: Hair samples were collected from 59% of patients enrolled in the parent study. Results indicated that hair efavirenz concentrations were significantly influenced by participants' CYP2B6 metaboliser status. Median efavirenz concentrations for extensive, intermediate and slow metaboliser genotypes were 3.54 ng/mg, 5.11 ng/mg and 10.66 ng/mg, respectively. A strong correlation was observed between the efavirenz concentrations measured in hair and plasma samples (Spearman's correlation coefficients, 0.672-0.741, p < 0.0001). No relationship between hair efavirenz concentrations and virological failure or adherence measured using an electronic adherence was shown. CONCLUSION: The results from this study provide further insight into the potential of using hair as a matrix for measuring antiretroviral concentrations. However, challenges experienced in collecting hair samples suggest that this adherence measure may have limited utility in an African population. <![CDATA[<b>Knowledge about male circumcision and perception of risk for HIV among youth in Harare, Zimbabwe</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Male circumcision will require high uptake among previously non-circumcising countries to realise the impact of circumcising in preventing HIV. Little is known about whether youths are knowledgeable about male circumcision and its relationship with HIV prevention and their perception of risk of HIV infection. OBJECTIVE: This article aimed to ascertain youth's knowledge about male circumcision and perception of risk of HIV infection. METHODS: A quantitative study on 784 youth (men aged 15-35 years) was conducted in Harare, Zimbabwe, after obtaining their consent. Multivariate analysis examined the associations between background characteristics and knowledge about male circumcision and the perception of risk of HIV infection. RESULTS: The results revealed that age was a significant predictor of knowledge about male circumcision among youth in Harare, as was educational attainment and ever having tested for HIV. In addition, youth who had heard of voluntary medical male circumcision were more likely to have high knowledge of male circumcision compared to those who had never heard of it. The results also showed that male circumcision status was associated with higher knowledge about male circumcision compared to those who were not circumcised. The study also found that educational attainment, belonging to the Shona ethnic group, never having tested for HIV and disapproval of voluntary counselling and testing prior to male circumcision were associated with the perception of risk of HIV infection. CONCLUSION: The study provides two recommendations: the need to strengthen perceived susceptibility to HIV among the youth and the need for advocacy on the health benefits of male circumcision <![CDATA[<b>'We must treat them like all the other people': Evaluating the Integrated Key Populations Sensitivity Training Programme for Healthcare Workers in South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Sensitisation training can reduce judgemental and discriminatory attitudes amongst healthcare workers. The 'Integrated Key Populations Sensitivity Training Programme for Healthcare Workers in South Africa' aimed to improve access to appropriate and non-judgemental health services for 'key populations', specifically men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who use drugs, through the sensitisation of healthcare workers OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of the integrated key population sensitisation training intervention for healthcare workers, conducted between 2013 and 2014 in South Africa METHODS: This study used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative methods compared attitudes between healthcare workers who received the training intervention and those who did not. Quantitative methods were used to compare similar changes in awareness amongst healthcare workers before and after receiving the training. We explored shifts in attitudes towards key populations, changes in awareness of health issues related to stigma, discrimination, and changes in capacity to manage sexual health and HIV risk behaviours, including substance use and anal sex RESULTS: The findings indicate that the training intervention resulted in a shift in attitudes, increased empathy for key populations, a reduction in negative and discriminatory moral-based judgements towards key populations and their behaviours, and increased self-perceived capacity to provide appropriate health services to key populations. Over 70% of healthcare workers trained in this programme strongly agreed that this intervention helped to increase awareness of psychosocial vulnerabilities of key populations, and address stigmatising attitudes CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that sensitisation training increases healthcare workers' knowledge and awareness about specific HIV-related health needs and psychosocial vulnerabilities of key populations, reduces moralising and judgemental attitudes, and results in healthcare workers feeling more skilled to provide appropriate and sensitive services <![CDATA[<b>Cutaneous tuberculosis in HIV-infected individuals: Lessons learnt from a case series</b>]]> INTRODUCTION: Extrapulmonary tuberculosis (TB) causes a significant burden of disease worldwide, especially among HIV-infected individuals and those with other immunosuppressive conditions. Cutaneous TB is an important manifestation of extrapulmonary TB but is uncommonly reported in South Africa despite the high burden of HIV and TB co-infection. There is a paucity of published data on clinical presentation and outcome of cutaneous TB in this context. Raising awareness of this condition among clinicians is imperative to improve early diagnosis and optimise treatment outcomes PATIENT PRESENTATION: In this series, we present three cases of cutaneous TB, two adults and one child, referred to a tertiary hospital from two primary healthcare centres and from a general practitioner. We demonstrate that the clinical presentation is diverse, ranging from papular lesions to abscesses, and that concordant pulmonary TB may be present MANAGEMENT: In particular, we show the importance of performing diagnostic procedures (e.g. aspiration) in individuals presenting with an abscess that does not respond to broad spectrum antimicrobial treatment, particularly in those with advanced immunosuppression OUTCOME AND CONCLUSION: The outcome of our three patients was poor, highlighting the need for earlier diagnosis in this WHO Stage 4 condition and intensive management of clinical cases. <![CDATA[<b>Occupational blood and body fluid exposures and human immunodeficiency virus post-exposure prophylaxis amongst intern doctors</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Healthcare workers (HCWs) are constantly vulnerable to occupational blood and body fluid exposures (OBBFEs). Exposed HCWs experience emotional, physical and psychological trauma. Less experienced HCWs, such as intern doctors, are more prone to OBBFEs. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and practices pertaining to OBBFEs amongst a select group of intern doctors in the Gauteng province of South Africa. METHODS: A quantitative cross-sectional descriptive study using a questionnaire based on a practical model was used. Intern doctors were recruited from four major hospitals in Gauteng. RESULTS: A total of 175 intern doctors participated in the study. There was a total of 182 (mean = 1.04, standard deviation [s.d] 0.88) reported OBBFEs amongst 136 (77.7%) subjects. The exposures occurred predominantly whilst subjects were working in surgery (n = 50, 27.5%), obstetrics and gynaecology (n = 49, 26.9%) and internal medicine (n = 48, 26.4%) departments; were superficial wounds (n = 69, 37.9%); were acquired during vascular puncture or intravenous line insertion (n = 69, 37.9%); and occurred when subjects were working >12 h shifts (n = 101, 55.5%). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) was initiated in 141 (77.5%) out of the 182 exposures. Only 90 (63.8%) subjects completed the recommended 28-day course of PEP. Two (1.1%) subjects reported that they had acquired HIV infection as a consequence of the OBBFE. CONCLUSION: Occupational blood and body fluid exposures are common amongst intern doctors. It is recommended that regular training, health education and monitoring compliance should be incorporated during the induction of medical intern doctors in hospitals. The availability of PEP regimens with better tolerability will encourage compliance. <![CDATA[<b>Sexual behaviours, awareness and perceptions towards voluntary medical male circumcision among students in Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) is regarded as the most cost-effective intervention in reducing female-to-male transmission of HIV in countries where heterosexual transmission is the most prevalent mode of infection. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to determine the awareness, sexual behaviours and perceptions of college students in Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, South Africa. METHOD: A cross-sectional design was engaged among a sample of 400 students selected using a stratified random sampling method. Descriptive data analysis was engaged to analyse data using STATA 13. RESULTS: The mean age of the respondents was 23 years. About 50% of the respondents were below the age of 23 years. The majority among the ethnic groups were black people and or African people (87.5%), followed by people of mixed race (8.1%). Most of the students belonged to the Christian religion (94.7%), and about 91.3% were single, while only 6.0% lived with their partners. Among those who were circumcised, a majority (78.0%) had undergone the MMC. About 76.5% of those residing in urban areas, and 80.6% residing in rural areas were circumcised. About 90.3% of the participants had good awareness about VMMC. About 77.3% of the participants disagreed that VMMC reduces the size of the penis, while 57.0% felt that VMMC provides an individual with the status of being a real man in society. Only 14.3% felt that VMMC exposes the penis to environmental hazards. While almost half (47.7%) of the cohort had one sexual partner, about 20.9% had three or more sexual partners. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that there is a high level of awareness on VMMC among college students in relation to its positive role towards reducing STIs and the enhancement of penile hygiene. <![CDATA[<b>Virologic and immunologic responses of patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy in a rural community health centre in Limpopo, South Africa: A retrospective study</b>]]> BACKGROUND: South Africa has a high HIV burden. Despite increased uptake of persons living with HIV into the South African national antiretroviral therapy programme, the incidence of HIV increased between 2013 and 2016. Studies suggest that increased community viral suppression results in reduced HIV incidence in that community 'independent of unsafe sexual behaviours and sharing used syringes' OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the viral and immunologic responses of patients, in a rural community health centre in South Africa, to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) between January 2004 and July 2016. METHODS: This was a retrospective medical record review conducted in Thohoyandou Community Health Centre. Data analysis was done using SPSS 24.0 and Microsoft Excel. The estimates used were 95% confidence intervals, and a p-value < 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant. RESULTS: Analysis was done using 1247 individuals, with 76% of the cohort being female and 98% first-line cART. The proportion of patients with a suppressed viral load (VL) at 6 months post-treatment was 64%, and 72% at 60 months. Fifty-nine per cent had consistent viral suppression over a 6-month period and 14% over at least 54 months. The mean CD4+ cell count at baseline was 227 cells/µL, and 538 cells/µL at 60 months. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that males had poorer immunologic and virologic responses. CONCLUSIONS: Viral suppression in the study population was inferior to the UNAIDS target of 90%. The sustainability of viral suppression, once attained, was also low. These may have a negative impact on HIV transmission. <![CDATA[<b>Tonsil histopathology in HIV-infected versus HIV-uninfected adults</b>]]> BACKGROUND: The relationship between HIV and tonsil malignancy has not been fully investigated and established. Both of these diseases prominently feature in the Otorhinolaryngology clinics. OBJECTIVE: There is minimal data available on the histopathology of tonsillectomy specimens in the HIV-infected population. This retrospective review compared tonsil histopathology between HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected patients. METHODS: Of the 319 adult patients undergoing tonsillectomy (01 July 2005 to 30 June 2015), HIV results were available for 160. The histological findings were compared in the HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected subgroups. The effects of age, HIV status and CD4 count on the risk of malignancy were determined. RESULTS: There were 86 patients who were HIV-infected and 74 were uninfected. Reactive lymphoid hyperplasia was the most common diagnosis in both groups (77%). Malignancies were diagnosed in eight HIV-infected and six HIV-uninfected patients, an insignificant difference. CONCLUSION: The majority of patients undergoing tonsillectomy had benign conditions. HIV status does not appear to be a specific risk factor for tonsil malignancies, but advanced age may be <![CDATA[<b>Cognitive and behavioural determinants of multiple sexual partnerships and condom use in South Africa: Results of a national survey</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risky behaviours including multiple sexual partnership (MSP) and non-condom use (nCU) are known to be drivers of the spread of HIV; cognitive factors including perceived susceptibility of HIV, self-efficacy and attitudes play a significant role in influencing risky sexual behaviours. OBJECTIVES: We sought to investigate personal beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and actions that are associated with MSP and nCU in South Africa. METHODS: We analysed nationally representative data from the 2012 National HIV Communication Survey (NCS) that included about 10 000 participants aged 16-55 years. Five constructs were created to measure psychosocial and cognitive determinants. Cronbach's alpha coefficient for internal consistency reliability was calculated. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with MSP and nCU. RESULTS: Of the 6061 sexually active respondents, 13% (95% CI: 11.47-13.12) reported MSP and 52.7% (n = 3158 of 6039) (95% CI: 51.0-53.55) nCU at last sex. Factors associated with MSP included perceived benefits, adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 2.16 (95% CI: 1.80-2.58), perceived susceptibility to HIV, aOR = 2.22 (95% CI: 1.83-2.69) and engaging in intergenerational sex, aOR = 2.14 (95% CI: 1.78-2.56). Predictors of nCU were perceived benefits, aOR = 1.25 (95% CI: 1.09-1.43); perceived susceptibility to HIV, aOR = 1.6 (95% CI: 1.39-1.83); and personal beliefs, aOR = 1.35 (95% CI: 1.13-1.62. CONCLUSION: Cognitive and behavioural factors were found to be predictors of risky sexual behaviours for HIV. This highlights the importance of considering personal perception and reasoning when attempting to understand and influence an individual's sexual behaviour. This could be done through enhancing awareness of HIV risk in the general population and by influencing cognitive behaviour change through community mobilisation, advocacy and creating activities to improve self-esteem. <![CDATA[<b>Outcomes of patients enrolled in an antiretroviral adherence club with recent viral suppression after experiencing elevated viral loads</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Eligibility for differentiated antiretroviral therapy (ART) delivery models has to date been limited to low-risk stable patients. OBJECTIVES: We examined the outcomes of patients who accessed their care and treatment through an ART adherence club (AC), a differentiated ART delivery model, immediately following receiving support to achieve viral suppression after experiencing elevated viral loads (VLs) at a high-burden ART clinic in Khayelitsha, South Africa. METHODS: Beginning in February 2012, patients with VLs above 400 copies/mL either on first- or second-line regimens received a structured intervention developed for patients at risk of treatment failure. Patients who successfully suppressed either on the same regimen or after regimen switch were offered immediate enrolment in an AC facilitated by a lay community health worker. We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of patients who enrolled in an AC directly after receiving suppression support. We analysed outcomes (retention in care, retention in AC care and viral rebound) using Kaplan-Meier methods with follow-up from October 2012 to June 2015. RESULTS: A total of 165 patients were enrolled in an AC following suppression (81.8% female, median age 36.2 years). At the closure of the study, 119 patients (72.0%) were virally suppressed and 148 patients (89.0%) were retained in care. Six, 12 and 18 months after AC enrolment, retention in care was estimated at 98.0%, 95.0% and 89.0%, respectively. Viral suppression was estimated to be maintained by 90.0%, 84.0% and 75.0% of patients at 6, 12 and 18 months after AC enrolment, respectively. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that patients who struggled to achieve or maintain viral suppression in routine clinic care can have good retention and viral suppression outcomes in ACs, a differentiated ART delivery model, following suppression support. <![CDATA[<b>The role of rilpivirine in Southern Africa</b>]]> Rilpivirine, a second-generation non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), is included as an option in first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) for antiretroviral-naïve individuals in treatment guidelines in high-income countries, including the United States and many European countries. Rilpivirine is available in a single-tablet fixed-dose combination, has a favourable tolerability profile and is of relatively low cost. However, rilpivirine has reduced efficacy in patients commencing ART at high viral loads. Therefore, baseline viral load testing is required before commencing rilpivirine, and it is not recommended for patients commencing therapy with a viral load greater than 100 000 copies/mL. Rilpivirine is not included in the treatment regimens recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which form the basis of treatment guidelines in many lower- and middle-income countries. Some patients commencing standard first-line regimens experience treatment-limiting toxicity. A low-cost rilpivirine-containing fixed-dose combination would potentially be a useful addition to treatment options available in South Africa and other countries in the region, for patients who do not tolerate standard first-line ART. In this article, we explore the utility of rilpivirine as an option in ART in South Africa and the region in the context of current public-sector regimens. We consider what role rilpivirine might play if first-line therapy moves to a dolutegravir-based regimen, as has already happened in some lower- and middle-income countries, including Botswana, Kenya and Brazil. Finally, we describe emerging evidence for rilpivirine in the prevention of HIV transmission. <![CDATA[<b>Peripartum HIV infection in very low birth weight infants fed 'raw' mother's own milk</b>]]> BACKGROUND: HIV-exposed very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (≤ 1500 g) are considered at high risk of peripartum mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT). In the past, they received formula to prevent breast milk related HIV transmission. This denied them the benefits of breast milk, thus exposing the infant to the risk of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). From 2010, 'raw' mother's own milk (rMOM) has been recommended for term infants whose mothers' received antenatal antiretroviral therapy (ART). At the same time, the infant received antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis as per the National Prevention of MTCT programme. OBJECTIVES: To determine the cumulative incidence of peripartum HIV infection by 4-6 weeks of age in HIV-exposed VLBW infants, who received rMOM and infant ARV prophylaxis. METHOD: A retrospective, observational audit over 3 years at a single institution was undertaken. The study population comprised HIV-exposed VLBW infants who received both nevirapine prophylaxis and rMOM from birth until discharge. A positive HIV-PCR by 4-6 weeks of life was used to confirm maternal to infant HIV transmission. RESULTS: Of the 80 eligible infants admitted between 2010 and 2013, 63 (79%) were exposed to antenatal ART. Seventy-eight (97.5%) tested HIV-PCR negative at 4-6 weeks. Of the two infants who tested positive, both presented with features of an acute HIV infection. The absence of MTCT in the remaining 78 infants given ARV prophylaxis and rMOM suggests that rMOM is an unlikely source of infection in the two infected infants. CONCLUSION: rMOM, in the presence of infant prophylaxis, was a safe feeding option for HIV-exposed VLBW infants. It should be strongly considered for these infants, as rMOM likely provides additional maternal and child benefits. <![CDATA[<b>Vaginal practices among women at risk for HIV acquisition in Soweto, South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Vaginal practices (VP) may adversely affect normal vaginal flora and mucosal integrity, and increase acquisition risk of HIV and other genital tract infections. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to describe self-reported VP, changes in the reported number of VP over time and factors associated with VP in a cohort of young Sowetan women enrolled in the HVTN 915 observational study. METHOD: We longitudinally assessed self-reported VP in 50 young women at risk of HIV acquisition aged 18-25 years in a prospective study over 3 months in Soweto, South Africa. Interviewer-administered HIV behavioural risk questionnaires were completed. No intervention to reduce VP was specified per protocol, but clinicians provided education at their discretion. The generalised estimating equation with inverse probability weights assessed VP over time. RESULTS: The mean age at screening was 22 years; women reported multiple sexual partnerships with a mean of one main and 2 casual partners in the last 30 days. Consistent condom use was 2% (n = 1), 25% (n = 12) and 43% (n = 3) with main, casual and new partners, respectively. Commonly reported VP included washing the vagina with water (44%) and using fingers (48%). VP decreased significantly over time (p < 0.001). Women who used condoms inconsistently or whose last sex was with a casual partner were 3 times more likely to report VP (p = 0.001 CONCLUSION: Despite the high incidence of HIV in our setting, VP are still common and are associated with other behavioural risks for HIV. Further study is needed to assess whether clinician education may reduce VP and therefore should be included in HIV risk reduction counselling. <![CDATA[<b>A cross-sectional study of the factors associated with male circumcision status among college youth in Ndola, Zambia, 2016</b>]]> BACKGROUND: New cases of HIV are increasing among young adults in Zambia; yet voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) coverage as an HIV prevention measure remains low. Despite having the highest HIV burden in the province, Ndola district had a VMMC coverage of 23% in 2015 compared to the national target of 80% among high-risk groups. OBJECTIVES: To determine predictive factors associated with circumcision status among male students in Ndola district. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study in May 2016 among students aged 18-35 years enrolled in five conveniently sampled colleges. We administered a structured questionnaire to assess the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions about VMMC. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine factors associated with male circumcision (MC) status. RESULTS: Of 136 students interviewed, 63% were circumcised, and of those, 96% were medically circumcised. Half of all students were aged 21-24 years. Those who perceived the circumcision procedure to be 'safe' (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 5.13; 95% CI: 2.09-14.82), and knew that it reduced female to male HIV transmission risk (aOR = 3.65; 95% CI: 3.12-11.67), were more likely to be circumcised. The perception that MC promotes 'promiscuous behaviour' (aOR = 0.20; 95% CI: 0.07-0.61), and that sexual sensitivity is the 'same' regardless of circumcision status, were associated with not being circumcised (aOR = 0.13; 95% CI: 0.02-0.80. CONCLUSION: Students had adequate knowledge about the safety of medical circumcision, and the subsequent risk reduction of HIV infection. Interventions aimed at addressing negative sexual perceptions about circumcision may increase VMMC coverage among college students. <![CDATA[<b>Self-reported risky sexual practices among adolescents and young adults in Botswana</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Adolescents and young adults account for more than one-third of incident Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections globally. Understanding sexual practices of this high-risk group is critical in designing HIV targeted prevention programming OBJECTIVES: To describe self-reported risky sexual practices of adolescents and young adults aged 16-24 years from 30 Botswana communities METHODS: Cross-sectional, self-reported age at sexual debut; number of sexual partners; condom and alcohol use during sex; intergenerational sex; and transactional sex data were collected. Modified Poisson estimating equations were used to obtain univariate and multivariate-adjusted prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) comparing engagement in different sexual practices according to gender, accounting for the clustered design of the study RESULTS: Among the 3380 participants, 2311 reported being sexually active with more females reporting being sexually active compared to males (65% vs. 35%, respectively; p < 0.0001). In univariate analyses, female participants were more likely to report inconsistent condom use (PR 1.61; 95% CI 1.44-1.80), intergenerational sex (PR 9.00; 95% CI 5.84-13.88) and transactional sex (PR 3.46; 95% CI 2.07-5.77) than males, yet less likely to report engaging in sex before age 15 years (PR 0.59; 95% CI: 0.41-0.85), using alcohol around the time of intercourse (PR: 0.59; 95% CI 0.45-0.76) or having ≥ two partners in the last 12 months (PR 0.65; 95% CI 0.57-0.74 CONCLUSIONS: Self-reported risky sexual practices of adolescents and young adults in Botswana differed significantly between males and females. Gender-specific risky sexual practices highlight the importance of developing tailored HIV prevention programming <![CDATA[<b>'At this [<i>adherence</i>] club, we are a family now': A realist theory-testing case study of the antiretroviral treatment adherence club, South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: An estimated 7.9 million people were living with HIV in South Africa in 2017, with 63.3% of them remaining in antiretroviral therapy (ART) care and 62.9% accessing ART. Poor retention in care and suboptimal adherence to ART undermine the successful efforts of initiating people living with HIV on ART. To address these challenges, the antiretroviral adherence club intervention was designed to streamline ART services to 'stable' patients. Nevertheless, it is poorly understood exactly how and why and under what health system conditions the adherence club intervention works. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to test a theory on how and why the adherence club intervention works and in what health system context(s) in a primary healthcare facility in the Western Cape Province. METHOD: Within the realist evaluation framework, we applied a confirmatory theory-testing case study approach. Kaplan-Meier descriptions were used to estimate the rates of dropout from the adherence club intervention and virological failure as the principal outcomes of the adherence club intervention. Qualitative interviews and non-participant observations were used to explore the context and identify the mechanisms that perpetuate the observed outcomes or behaviours of the actors. Following the retroduction logic of making inferences, we configured information obtained from quantitative and qualitative approaches using the intervention-context-actor-mechanism-outcome heuristic tool to formulate generative theories. RESULTS: We confirmed that patients on ART in adherence clubs will continue to adhere to their medication and remain in care because their self-efficacy is improved; they are motivated or are being nudged. CONCLUSION: A theory-based understanding provides valuable lessons towards the adaptive implementation of the adherence club intervention <![CDATA[<b>HIV testing at birth: Are we getting it right?</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Birth polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing improves early detection of HIV and allows for early treatment initiation. National guidelines exist, but it is unknown whether these are being implemented correctly. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether HIV-exposed infants at the Mangaung University Community Partnership Programme Community Health Centre (MUCPP CHC) received PCR tests at birth, if HIV-positive infants were initiated on treatment, if follow-up dates were scheduled and the percentage of mothers or caregivers who returned to collect the results. METHODS: The study was a retrospective descriptive file audit (1304 files) of births from 01 January to 31 December 2016 at MUCPP CHC. The study sample was 428 infants born to HIV-positive mothers. The birth register was used to collect the infants' HIV PCR test barcodes. The birth and 10-week PCR results were retrieved from an electronic database at the Virology Department, University of the Free State. RESULTS: In total, 375 infants received a birth PCR test (87.6%) of which 4 (1.1%) tested HIV positive and 327 (87.2%) negative. Follow-up tests were not scheduled. However, 145 (44.3%) HIV-negative infants returned for a 10-week test. Irrespective of the PCR birth result, 157 (36.7%) infants were brought for a 10-week follow-up test at which time 3 (1.9%) tested positive and 151 (96.2%) negative. CONCLUSION: The majority of HIV-exposed infants received a PCR test at birth; however, the clinic is below the national target (90%) for HIV testing. A record-keeping system of infants' visits does not exist at MUCPP CHC, making it impossible to determine whether HIV-positive infants were started on antiretroviral treatment. <![CDATA[<b>Factors influencing the confidence and knowledge of nurses prescribing antiretroviral treatment in a rural and urban district in the Western Cape province</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Since the introduction of nurse-initiated and managed antiretroviral treatment (NIMART) in South Africa in 2010, initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in primary care has become the responsibility of nurses. The continued success of this approach is dependent on factors such as adequate training and effective support systems. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate factors influencing the knowledge and confidence of professional nurses in managing patients living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in primary healthcare settings in a rural and urban district in the Western Cape. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted amongst 77 NIMART-trained nurses from 29 healthcare facilities to measure demographic details, influencing factors, HIV management confidence and HIV management knowledge. RESULTS: The majority of participants had adequate HIV management knowledge and reported being very confident or expert in the HIV management skills or competencies. Participants trained recently on local guidelines (Practical Approach to Care Kit) (3 years ago or less) had significantly higher knowledge scores. Regular feedback about clinic and personal performance was associated with higher HIV management knowledge. Participants who received NIMART mentoring over a period of 2 weeks had a higher mean confidence score compared to other periods of mentoring. A higher caseload of patients living with HIV was also associated with higher knowledge and confidence. CONCLUSION: Training, mentorship and clinical practice experience are associated with knowledge and confidence. Recommendations include the strengthening of current training and mentoring and ensuring that NIMART-trained nurses are provided with regular updates and sufficient opportunities for clinical practice. <![CDATA[<b>Outcomes of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis in HIV-infected patients when using systemic steroids and/or intravenous immunoglobulins in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) are severe life-threatening mucocutaneous reactions. There is an ongoing controversy regarding the use of systemic corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in SJS/TEN and their utility in HIV-infected patients. OBJECTIVES: The objective was to assess the outcome of a combination of intensive supportive care with oral corticosteroids in SJS and a combination of systemic steroids and IVIG for 3 consecutive days in HIV-infected patients with TEN. In addition, we assessed management in a general dermatology ward without implementing wound debridement. METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of 36 HIV-infected adults with SJS/TEN admitted to a tertiary dermatology unit between 1st January 2010 and 31st July 2011. Standard-of-care protocols included identification and elimination of the possible causative drug, meticulous wound care without debridement, initiation of oral prednisone (1 mg/kg/day) on admission for 3 consecutive days, and the addition of IVIG (1 g/kg/day) for 3 consecutive days to those with TEN. RESULTS: Of the 36 patients in the study, 32 were female. Nevirapine was the commonest drug implicated. A diagnosis of tuberculosis did not increase the case fatality rate. Complications included infections, anaemia, drug-induced hepatitis, ocular involvement, renal impairment, deep vein thrombosis, respiratory distress, Leucopenia, gastritis and hypernatremia. The overall survival rate was 97%. CONCLUSION: HIV-infected SJS and TEN patients were treated in a tertiary dermatology ward with a treatment plan of skin care, and a combination of systemic corticosteroids and IVIG respectively had a survival rate of 97%.