Peer-Reviewed Publications, 2014

Publications (journal articles, book chapters, books) produced in 2014:

  • Brown B, Folayan MO, Odetoyingbo R, Harrison A.  Rape in Nigeria: a silent epidemic among adolescents with implications for HIV infection.  Global Health Action, 2014; 7: 10.3402/gha.v7.25583.

[no abstract available]

The HIV epidemic is widely recognised as having prompted one of the most remarkable intersections ever of illness, science and activism. The production, circulation, use and evaluation of empirical scientific ‘evidence’ played a central part in activists’ engagement with AIDS science. Previous activist engagement with evidence focused on the social and biomedical responses to HIV in the global North as well as challenges around ensuring antiretroviral treatment (ART) was available in the global South. More recently, however, with the roll-out and scale-up of large public-sector ART programmes and new multi-dimensional prevention efforts, the relationships between evidence and activism have been changing. Scale-up of these large-scale treatment and prevention programmes represents an exciting new opportunity while bringing with it a host of new challenges. This paper examines what new forms of evidence and activism will be required to address the challenges of the scaling-up era of HIV treatment and prevention. It reviews some recent controversies around evidence and HIV scale-up and describes the different forms of evidence and activist strategies that will be necessary for a robust response to these new challenges.

There is increasing interest in the need to address the ethical dilemmas related to the engagement of adolescents in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) research. Research projects, including those that address issues related to STIs and HIV, adverse pregnancy outcomes, violence, and mental health, must be designed and implemented to address the needs of adolescents. Decisions on when an individual has adequate capacity to give consent for research most commonly use age as a surrogate rather than directly assessing capacity to understand the issues and make an informed decision on whether to participate in research or not. There is a perception that adolescents participating in research are more likely to be coerced and may therefore not fully comprehend the risk they may be taking when engaging in research. This paper examines the various ethical issues that may impact stakeholders’ decision making when considering engaging adolescents in SRH research in Nigeria. It makes a case for lowering the age of consent for adolescents. While some experts believe it is possible to extrapolate relevant information from adult research, studies on ethical aspects of adolescents’ participation in research are still needed, especially in the field of sexual and reproductive health where there are often differences in knowledge, attitudes and practices compared to adults. The particular challenges of applying the fundamental principles of research ethics to adolescent research, especially research about sex and sexuality, will only become clear if more studies are conducted.

Very little is known about the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) in general and the needs of those in Nigeria specifically. A review was conducted to identify the SRH of ALHIV, assess if these are different from the SRH of adolescents who are free from HIV infection, and from those of adults living with HIV. Few research have been conducted on how ALHIV deal with sexual and reproductive health challenges faced in their everyday lives – as adolescents and as persons living with HIV living in sub – Saharan Africa – to help make any meaningful inferences on these differing needs. The review suggests that the SRH needs and practices of ALHIV may differ from that of other adolescents and that of adults living with HIV. ALHIV would require support to cope with sex and sexual needs, through full integration of individualized SRH services into the HIV services received. Service providers need to appreciate the individualistic nature of health problems of ALHIV and address their health care from this holistic perspective. A ‘one – size – fits -all’ approach for designing SRH programmes for ALHIV would not be appropriate. We conclude that research evidence should inform the design and implementation of ALHIV friendly SRH programmes services in both urban and rural settings in Nigeria.

The widespread use of antiretroviral therapy and remarkable success in the treatment of paediatric HIV infection has changed the face of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic in children from a fatal disease to that of a chronic illness. Many children living with HIV are surviving into adolescence. This sub – population of people living with HIV is emerging as a public health challenge and burden in terms of healthcare management and service utilization than previously anticipated. This article provides an overview of the socio – developmental challenges facing adolescents living with HIV especially in a resource – limited setting like Nigeria. These include concerns about their healthy sexuality, safer sex and transition to adulthood, disclosure of their status and potential stigma, challenges faced with daily living, access and adherence to treatment, access to care and support, and clinic transition. Other issues include reality of death and implications for fertility intentions, mental health concerns and neurocognitive development. Coping strategies and needed support for adolescents living with HIV are also discussed, and the implications for policy formulation and programme design and implementation in Nigeria are highlighted.

Background: Sexual behaviour and sexual practices affect the risk for acquisition and transmission of HIV infection. This study tries to identify differences in sexual behaviour (condom use with non-marital partners, multiple sexual partnerships transactional sex and age mixing in sexual relationships), sexual practices (oral, anal and vagina sex), and forced sexual initiation based on sex and HIV status of adolescents in Nigeria.

Method: Face to face interviewer-administered questionnaires were used to collect information from a nationally representative sample of 10–19 years old adolescents residing in Nigeria. Data included information on age of sexual debut, sexual behaviour and sexual practices. Association between HIV status, sex, sexual behaviour and sexual practices, and predictors of use of condoms during the last vaginal sexual intercourse were determined.

Result: More self-reported HIV positive than HIV negative females had experienced forced sexual initiation (p = 0.008). Significantly more female than male adolescents had engaged in transactional sex (p < 0.001) and had sex with partners who were older than them by 10 years or more (p < 0.001). Vaginal (95.2%), oral (26.6%) and anal (7.8%) sex were practiced by male and females irrespective of HIV status. More females reported oral sex (p = 0.001). Being a female (p = 0.001), having genital itching in the last 12 months (p = 0.04) and having engaged in anal sex in the last 12 months (p = 0.009) reduced the odds of using a condom at last vaginal intercourse. Having a HIV positive or negative status did not significantly increase the odds of using a condom at last vaginal intercourse.

Conclusion: Differences in sexual behaviour and sexual practices of adolescents was observed based on sex and not on HIV status. History of forced sex initiation however differed by HIV status. Tailored interventions for male and female adolescents are required to reduce their risk of HIV infection. Tailored interventions are also required for adolescents living with HIV to improve their sexual and reproductive health.

This paper addresses current and emerging HIV prevention strategies for women in Sub -Saharan Africa, in light of recent trial results and ongoing research. What are the major opportunities and challenges for widespread implementation of new and emerging HIV prevention strategies? The paper discusses the major individual, social and structural factors that underpin women’s disproportionate risk for HIV infection, with attention to gender, adolescents as a vulnerable population, and the need to engage men. Also, the influence of these factors on the ultimate success of both behavioral and biomedical HIV prevention technologies for women in sub – Saharan Africa is discussed. Finally, the paper examined how the new and emerging biobehavioral prevention strategies served as tools to empower women to adopt healthy HIV preventive and reproductive health behaviors.

Adults caring for children in HIV-endemic communities are at risk for poor psychological outcomes. However, we still have a limited understanding of how various HIV impacts–including caregiver’s own HIV illness, responsibilities of caring for a child orphaned by AIDS, or both–affect psychological outcomes among caregivers. Furthermore, few studies have explored the relationship between stigma, HIV, and psychological outcomes among caregivers of children in HIV-endemic communities. A cross-sectional survey conducted from 2009 to 2010 assessed anxiety among 2477 caregivers of children in HIV-endemic South Africa. Chi-square tested differences in anxiety among caregivers living with HIV, caregivers of a child orphaned by AIDS, and caregivers affected with both conditions. Multivariate logistic regressions identified whether the relationship between HIV impacts and anxiety remained after controlling for socio-demographic co-factors. Mediation analysis tested the relationship between stigma, HIV, and anxiety. The odds of meeting threshold criteria for clinically relevant anxiety symptoms were two and a half times greater among caregivers living with HIV compared to nonaffected caregivers. The odds of meeting threshold criteria for clinically relevant anxiety symptoms were greatest among caregivers living with HIV and caring for a child orphaned by AIDS. Exposure to AIDS-related stigma partially mediated the relationship between HIV and anxiety. Interventions are needed to address caregiver psychological health, particularly among caregivers affected with both conditions of living with HIV and caring for a child orphaned by AIDS.

Objectives: To assess the burden of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among HIV-positive South Africans in the period prior to antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation compared with the period once on ART.
Methods: We linked the clinic records of 1465 patients currently on ART to the electronic database which records all visits to city clinics. We used a mixed effects Poisson model to assess the relative rates of occurrence of treatment seeking for an STI in the periods prior to initiation of ART and while on ART.

Results: We accumulated 4214 person-years of follow-up, divided nearly equally between the pre-ART and on-ART periods. The rate of treatment seeking for new STIs was 5.50 (95% CI 5.43 to 5.78) per 100 person-years, and individuals had on average a sevenfold higher rate of seeking treatment for STIs in the period prior to initiating ART (9.57 per 100 person-years) compared with the period once on ART (5.5 per 100 person-years) (adjusted rate ratio (RR) 7.01, 95% CI 4.64 to 10.59). Being male (RR 1.73, 95% CI 1.18 to 2.55) or younger (age <25) (RR 2.67, 95% CI 1.53 to 4.65) was associated with higher incidence of clinic visits for STI treatment, while advanced stage of HIV disease (WHO stage 4) (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.69) was associated with lower incidence.

Conclusions: The period prior to the initiation of ART is a critical period where increased attention should be focused on the detection and treatment of STIs. A successful effort to treat STIs in this period will likely reduce further HIV transmission and fits within a test-and-treat approach.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.

Migration has deep historical roots in South and southern Africa and to this day continues to be highly prevalent and a major factor shaping South African society and health. In this paper we examine the role of migration in the spread of two diseases nearly 100 years apart: tuberculosis following the discovery of gold in 1886 and HIV in the early 1990s. Both cases demonstrate the critical role played by human migration in the transmission and subsequent dissemination of these diseases to rural areas. In both cases, migration acts to assemble in one high-risk environment thousands of young men highly susceptible to new diseases. With poor living and working conditions, these migration destinations act as hot-spots for disease transmission. Migration of workers back to rural areas then serves as a highly efficient means of disseminating these diseases to rural populations. We conclude by raising some more recent questions examining the current role of migration in southern Africa.

Partner-age difference is an HIV-risk factor among young women in Africa, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. We used nationally representative data among black South Africans (men: 3,530; women: 3,946) to examine the proportion of women in partnerships involving male partner concurrency by age of female partners and by age-disparate (≥5 years) partnerships. Of all partners reported by men, 35 % of young (16-24) women were in partnerships involving male partner concurrency of 4 weeks or longer during the past 12 months. Young women in age-disparate partnerships were more likely to be in partnerships with men who had other concurrent partners (9 %; OR 1.88 p < 0.01) and more likely to be connected to an older sexual network. Our results suggest that the relationship between male concurrency and age-disparate relationships may increase HIV risk for young women by connecting them to larger and older sexual networks.

Background: Late presentation to testing, treatment and continued care has detrimental impacts on the health of HIV-positive individuals as well as their sexual partners’ health. Men who have sex with men (MSM) experience disproportionately high rates of HIV both globally and in Brazil. However, the factors that inhibit linkage to care among MSM remain unclear.

Method: We conducted a cross-sectional study of HIV-positive MSM (n = 740) enrolled in HIV/AIDS services in a large urban center of Brazil from August 2010 to June 2011. Descriptive, bivariate and multivariate statistics were conducted using STATA 12 to examine the relationship between a range of variables and late presentation, defined as having a first CD4 count <350 cells/mm3.

Results: Within the sample, the prevalence of LP was 63.1%. Men who self-identified as heterosexual (AOR 1.54 and 95% CI 1.08 – 2.20) compared to men who self-identified as homosexual and bisexual were at increased odds of late presentation. Additionally, men age 30 and older (AOR 1.56, 95% CI 1.01 – 2.43) compared to individuals age 18–29 experienced increased odds of late presentation among MSM.

Conclusions: The prevalence of LP in this population was higher than noted in the global literature on LP among MSM. Heterosexual men and older age individuals experienced substantial barriers to HIV care. The stigma around same-sex behaviors and the current focus of HIV prevention and treatment campaigns on younger age individuals may limit patients’ and providers’ awareness of the risk for HIV and access to available services. In addition to addressing HIV-specific barriers to care, developing effective strategies to reduce late presentation in Brazil will require addressing social factors – such as stigma against diverse sexualities – to concretely identify and eliminate barriers to available services. Only in so doing can we make currently invisible people, visible.

Khayelitsha, an economically marginal peri-urban settlement in Cape Town, is home to a number of ‘flagship’ public health interventions aimed at HIV/ AIDS and TB. Alongside these high-profile, foreign donor-driven treatment and care programmes are a plethora of NGOs that provide a wide range of community-based carework. Some of these organisations are large, well funded and well connected globally, while others are run by a few unemployed women responding to care needs in their neighbourhoods. This article explores the ways that community health workers (CHWs) who work for these organisations understand and speak about their involvement in carework as volunteers, employees or managers of community-based care organisations. Many CHWs framed their work through discourses of gender, religion or culture (‘African-ness’). They also described forms of material or economic benefits of providing carework, but many were concerned that these might be seen as existing in tension with more socially accepted, altruistic motivations for care. We explore here how CHWs narrate and understand their roles and motivations as carers and members of a resource-constrained community.

 

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