HIV & AIDS

Moving the global response towards the universal test and treat model will pose huge challenges to public health systems in resource-limited settings, including global and local supply chain systems. These challenges are especially acute in Africa, which accounts for over 70% of the persons affected by HIV.To ensure that there are enough anti-retrovirals available to treat the nearly 25 million people that will require them by 2020 represents a near doubling of the ARV supplied to treat the 13 million currently on treatment. Similarly, to monitor those on treatment means an unprecedented scale-up of viral load testing throughout Africa. Larger issues include whether the capacity exists at the local level to handle these commodities when they arrive in the most severely affected countries, including considerations of the human resources and costs needed to make this strategy effective. We believe that such ‘‘real world’’ analysis of proposed strategies and policies is essential to ensure their most effective implementation.

In recent years, new global initiatives responding to the AIDS crisis have dramatically affected—and often significantly improved—how developing countries procure, distribute, and manage pharmaceuticals. A number of developments related to treatment scale-up, initially focused on AIDS-related products, have created frameworks for widening access to medicines for other diseases that disproportionally impact countries with limited resources and for strengthening health systems overall. Examples of such systems strengthening have come in the areas of drug development and pricing; policy and regulation; pharmaceutical procurement, distribution, and use; and management systems, such as for health information and human resources. For example, a hospital in South Africa developed new tools to decentralize provision of antiretroviral therapy to local clinics—bringing treatment closer to patients and shifting responsibility from scarce pharmacists to lower level pharmacy staff. Successful, the system was expanded to patients with other chronic conditions, such as mental illness. Progress toward universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support will continue the push to strengthen pharmaceutical sectors that serve not only HIV-related needs but all health needs; health experts can likely take these achievements further to maximize their expansion into the wider health system.

In recent years, global health initiatives have greatly increased the number of patients in low-income countries started on antiretroviral therapy (ART). This creates an urgent need to know how well HIV/AIDS programs maintain patients on therapy. Consensus, however, is lacking on practical, reliable, and valid indicators to monitor program performance on adherence. Recently, the Global Fund became the first funding organization to recommend an adherence indicator to monitor program performance. This is a welcome beginning. International organizations and national AIDS control programs have a clear and urgent need to finalize agreement about standard indicators to monitor patient adherence and retention and to begin to make such data publicly available. UNAIDS and the WHO Department of HIV/AIDS should take the lead in coordinating donor and country collaboration in this important endeavor.

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are the most common infections of humans in sub-Saharan Africa. Virtually all of the population living below the World Bank poverty figure is affected by one or more NTDs. New evidence indicates a high degree of geographic overlap between the highest-prevalence NTDs (soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma) and malaria and HIV, exhibiting a high degree of co-infection. Recent research suggests that NTDs can affect HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria disease progression. A combination of immunological, epidemiological, and clinical factors can contribute to these interactions and add to a worsening prognosis for people affected by HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. Together these results point to the impacts of the highest-prevalence NTDs on the health outcomes of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB and present new opportunities to design innovative public health interventions and strategies for these "big three" diseases. This analysis describes the current findings of research and what research is still needed to strengthen the knowledge base of the impacts of NTDs on the big three.

This systematic review (Jan. 2003-Dec. 2014) synthesized evidence on interventions that have directly reduced mortality in high-HIV-prevalence populations. Antiretroviral therapy (ART)was the only intervention identified that decreased death in HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women. Multivitamin use was shown to reduce disease progression while other micronutrients and antibiotics had no beneficial effect on maternal mortality. The findings support global trends in encouraging initiation of lifelong ART for all HIV-infected pregnant and breastfeeding women (Option B+), regardless of their CD4+ count, as an important step in ensuring appropriate care and treatment.

In this commentary, the authors discuss why integrating HIV testing, treatment and care into child survival platforms is important, as well as its potential to advance progress towards global targets that call for, by 2020, 90% of children living with HIV to know their status, 90% of those diagnosed to be on treatment and 90% of those on treatment to be virally suppressed (90-90-90). Integration is critical in improving health outcomes and efficiency gains. In children, integration of HIV in programmes such as immunization and nutrition has been associated with an increased uptake of HIV infant testing. Integration is increasingly recognized as a case-finding strategy for children missed from prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes and as a platform for diffusing emerging technologies such as point-of-care diagnostics. These support progress towards the 90-90-90 targets by providing a pathway for early identification of HIV-infected children with co-morbidities, prompt initiation of treatment and improved survival. There are various promising practices that have demonstrated HIV outcomes; however, few have documented the benefits of integration on child survival interventions. The Double Dividend framework is well positioned to address the bidirectional impacts for both programmes.

Abstract Family caregivers play a critical role in caring for children living with HIV, however, there is little knowledge about their experiences. The aim of this study was to illuminate the family caregivers' lived experiences of caring for a child when he or she has been diagnosed with HIV and enrolled to antiretroviral treatment. Qualitative interviews with 21 family caregivers of 21 children diagnosed with HIV were analyzed using an inductive design with a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. The caregivers' experience were articulated in 5 subthemes under the main theme of "Surviving overwhelming challenges": "Committed care-giving," "Breaking the family life," "Caring burdens," "Confronting conflicts," and "Living with worry." Despite the difficult situation the family caregivers experienced with extensive worry, caring burdens, and disrupted family and social networks, they were committed caregivers. They were empowered by their belief in God but also by their strong belief in the child's treatment and support from healthcare workers. The healthcare system needs to consider possible ways to support the family caregivers during child's HIV diagnosis and treatment initiation as part of a continuum of care.

To provide the evidence to develop staffing norms for health facilities, the Workload Indicators of Staffing Need (WISN) tool of the World Health Organization (WHO) was adopted for assessing workload pressures to inform and improve human resource planning in facilities that provide HIV/AIDS services. This is a mixed methodology approach combining qualitative (separate group discussions for each OPC position) and secondary data extraction (number of patients/clinic from routine reports) in 23 outpatient clinics (OPCs) of Hai Phong City, Vietnam, from January-March 2014. The results showed that, with one exception, there is no shortage of manpower in the OPC system in Hai Phong. The pilot implementation of this toolkit for other HIV/AIDS service providers and other health care facilities could help calculate staff requirements, inform manpower planning, and help staff at health facilities develop job descriptions and plan their work accordingly.

This paper examines the needles and syringes that people who inject drugs (PWID) in Tajikistan use and factors that influence their choices. We conducted six focus groups in Kulob and six in Khorog, Tajikistan, with a total of 100 participants. Focus group topics included the needles and syringes used and factors that influence choice of needles and syringes. Most low dead space syringes are 1-ml insulin syringes with 12 mm 28 g permanently attached needles. Findings suggest that these will not be acceptable to PWID who need larger syringes and longer, thicker needles that are detachable. Low dead space detachable needles appear to be an acceptable option that could overcome barriers to the widespread use of low dead space equipment for reducing HIV and HCV transmission.

We sought to reduce the service needs of people living with HIV by increasing referral coordination for HIV and family planning, measured as network density, with an organizational network approach. We conducted organizational network analysis on two networks in sub-cities of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There were 25 organizations in one sub-city network and 26 in the other. This quasi experiment demonstrated that (1) an organizational network analysis can inform an intervention, (2) a modest network strengthening intervention can enhance client referrals, (3) improvement in client referrals was accompanied by a decrease in patient-reported unmet needs and (4) a series of network analyses can be a useful evaluation tool.

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