Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine]]> vol. 24 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Late-onset efavirenz toxicity: A descriptive study from Pretoria, South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: The neuropsychiatric side effects of efavirenz occur mainly early during treatment and are usually mild. A lesser-known and serious complication is late-onset efavirenz toxicity causing ataxia and encephalopathy. Data regarding this condition are limited. OBJECTIVES: We describe the clinical picture of late-onset efavirenz toxicity, investigate co-morbidities and report outcomes. METHOD: This descriptive study of all patients with late-onset efavirenz toxicity was conducted over three years at Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa. RESULTS: Forty consecutive patients were identified. Mean age was 42.1 years, three patients (7.5%) were male and the mean efavirenz level was 49.0 μg/mL (standard deviation [s.d.]: 24.8). Cerebellar ataxia (82.5%) and encephalopathy (47.5%) were the most common presenting features (40.0% had both); four patients presented with psychosis. Presence of encephalopathy and/or cerebellar ataxia was associated with higher efavirenz levels compared with psychosis (52.1 μg/mL, s.d.: 24.1 vs 25.0 μg/mL, s.d.: 17.1). In most patients, symptoms resolved, but four patients (10.0%) died, and one patient remained ataxic. CONCLUSION: Late-onset efavirenz toxicity typically presented with ataxia and encephalopathy, but psychosis can be the presenting feature. The outcome after withdrawal was good, but the mortality of 10.0% is concerning. Recent changes in guidelines favour dolutegravir, but many patients remain on efavirenz, and awareness of the condition is vital. WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS: This large, single-centre study contributes to the limited data of HIV-positive patients with late-onset efavirenz toxicity and emphasises its ongoing relevance in clinical practice. <![CDATA[<b>Human rights violations among men who have sex with men and transgender people in South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender (TG) people face human rights violations (HRVs) which impact their access to critical interventions for HIV prevention, treatment, and related services. OBJECTIVES: This study describes how Beyond Zero, a not-for-profit organisation in South Africa, built an HRV reporting system and discusses data on the HRVs experienced by MSM and TG people who accessed HIV prevention services between 01 January 2021 and 31 December 2021. METHOD: This was a cross-sectional study using secondary analysis of programmatic data routinely collected as part of HIV prevention programmes for MSM and TG in 10 rural districts of South Africa. RESULTS: A total of 249 individuals reported having experienced HRVs. Of these, 113 (54.6%) were physical violations, 145 (58.2%) were psychosocial harassment, 15 (18.3%) were experienced within the workplace, and 59 (23.7%) were experienced at a healthcare or social services institution. Overall, 77% of the physical violations and 70.4% of the psychosocial violations occurred in the home and local community settings; 76.1% of the perpetrators of physical violence and 79.3% of the perpetrators of psychosocial harassment were known. Most incidents of physical violence (80.5%) and psychosocial harassment (92.4%) were not reported due to fear of homophobic or transphobic violence. CONCLUSION: Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of documenting HRVs among MSM and TG people within HIV prevention programmes. Men who have sex with men and TG people should be systematically screened for HRVs and linked to legal or other services WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS: Our findings present data on the nature of HRVs in 10 districts outside of the large urban centres where research documenting the lived experiences of MSM, TG people and other key populations is traditionally conducted in South Africa. This data contribute to addressing the gap in the literature on the needs of MSM and TG people in South Africa caused by the delayed inclusion of rural MSM and TG people in research. <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19 severity and in-hospital mortality in an area with high HIV prevalence</b>]]> BACKGROUND: HIV infection causes immune dysregulation affecting T-cell and monocyte function, which may alter coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pathophysiology. OBJECTIVES: We investigated the associations among clinical phenotypes, laboratory biomarkers, and hospitalisation outcomes in a cohort of people hospitalised with COVID-19 in a high HIV prevalence area. METHOD: We conducted a prospective observational cohort study in Tshwane, South Africa. Respiratory disease severity was quantified using the respiratory oxygenation score. Analysed biomarkers included inflammatory and coagulation biomarkers, CD4 T-cell counts, and HIV-1 viral loads (HIVVL). RESULTS: The analysis included 558 patients, of whom 21.7% died during admission. The mean age was 54 years. A total of 82 participants were HIV-positive. People living with HIV (PLWH) were younger (mean age 46 years) than HIV-negative people; most were on antiretroviral treatment with a suppressed HIVVL (72%) and the median CD4 count was 159 (interquartile range: 66-397) cells/┬ÁL. After adjusting for age, HIV was not associated with increased risk of mortality during hospitalisation (age-adjusted hazard ratio = 1.1, 95% confidence interval: 0.6-2.0). Inflammatory biomarker levels were similar in PLWH and HIV-negative patients. Detectable HIVVL was associated with less severe respiratory disease. In PLWH, mortality was associated with higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Opportunistic infections, and other risk factors for severe COVID-19, were common in PLWH who died. CONCLUSION: PLWH were not at increased risk of mortality and those with detectable HIVVL had less severe respiratory disease than those with suppressed HIVVL. WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS: This study advances our understanding of severe COVID-19 in PLWH. <![CDATA[<b>The prevalence of cervical abnormalities: Comparison of youth with perinatally acquired HIV and older women in Botswana</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer burden and prevalence of precursor lesions is unknown among young women living with HIV in high prevalence settings. Current cervical cancer screening guidelines in resource-limited settings with high HIV prevalence typically exclude adolescents and young women. After observing two cases of advanced cervical cancer among young women with perinatally acquired HIV, a pilot screening programme was established in Botswana. OBJECTIVES: To compare the prevalence of cervical abnormalities in young women with perinatally acquired HIV with women aged 30-49 years, regardless of HIV status. METHOD: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 30-49-year-old women who had visual inspection with acetic acid screening through the Botswana public sector programme, and youth (aged 15-24 years) with perinatally acquired HIV, at a single referral site between 2016 and 2018. We describe the prevalence of cervical abnormalities in each group as well as the crude prevalence ratio. RESULTS: The prevalence of cervical abnormalities in women 30-49 years of age was 10.9% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 10.4, 11.4), and 10.1% (95% CI: 4.7, 18.3) for youth. The crude prevalence ratio was 1.07 (95% CI: 0.58, 2.01). CONCLUSION: Inclusion of youth living with HIV in cervical cancer screening services should be considered in settings with a high prevalence of HIV and cervical cancer. <![CDATA[<b>Effect of HIV on mortality among hospitalised patients in South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: HIV and AIDS continues to impose substantial healthcare challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, but there are limited local data comparing inpatient outcomes between people with HIV (PLWH) and those uninfected OBJECTIVES: To compare cause-specific mortality among hospitalised adolescents and adults, stratified by HIV-serostatus METHOD: A cross-sectional analysis was performed, analysing cause-specific inpatient mortality data and total admissions, from 01 January 2017 to 30 June 2020, at Tshepong Hospital, North West province, South Africa RESULTS: The overall inpatient mortality rate decreased from 14.5% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 13.4-16.0) in 2017, to 11.3% (95% CI: 10.6-11.9) in 2020; P < 0.001. People living with HIV accounted for 53.9% (n = 2342) of inpatient deaths, 22.6% (n = 984) were HIV-seronegative patients and 23.5% (n = 1020) patients with unknown HIV-serostatus. People with HIV died at younger ages (median: 44 years, interquartile range [IQR]: 35.8-54.2) compared to HIV-seronegative inpatients (median: 64.4 years, IQR: 55.5-73.9); P < 0.001. Leading causes of death were pneumonia (19.9%, n = 863), then pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis (15.0%, n = 654). People with HIV who had CD4+ counts < 350 cells/mL or viral load ≥ 1000 copies/mL had increased risk of death from tuberculosis compared to virally suppressed patients (adjusted relative risk: 2.10 [95% CI: 1.44-3.04, P < 0.009] and 1.56 [95% CI: 1.22-2.00, P < 0.001 CONCLUSION: Our study, conducted in a regional hospital in South Africa, showed PLWH had higher mortality rates and died at younger ages compared to HIV-seronegative patients