Background: Since 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends immediate initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all HIV-positive patients. Epidemiological evidence points to important health benefits of immediate ART initiation; however, the policy's economic impact remains unknown. Methods: We conducted a stepped-wedge cluster-randomised controlled trial in Eswatini to determine the causal impact of immediate ART initiation on patients' economic welfare. Fourteen healthcare facilities were non-randomly matched in pairs and then randomly allocated to transition from the standard of care (ART eligibility at CD4 counts of < 350 cells/mm3 until September 2016 and <500 cells/mm3 thereafter) to the 'Early Initiation of ART for All' (EAAA) intervention at one of seven timepoints. Patients, healthcare personnel, and outcome assessors remained unblinded. Data was collected via standardised paper-based surveys with HIV-positive, ART-naïve adults who were neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. Outcomes were patients' time use, employment status, household expenditures and household wealth. Results: A total sample of 3,019 participants were interviewed over the duration of the study. The mean number of participants approached at each facility and time step varied from 4 to 112 participants. Using mixed-effects negative binomial regressions accounting for time trends and clustering, we found no significant difference between study arms for any economic outcome. Specifically, the EAAA intervention had no significant effect on non-resting time use (RR= 1.00, [CI: 0.96, 1.05, p=0.93]) or income-generating time use (RR= 0.94, [CI: 0.73,1.20, p=0.61]). Employment and household expenditures decreased slightly but not significantly in the EAAA group, with risk ratios of 0.93 [CI: 0.82, 1.04, p=0.21] and 0.92 [CI: 0.79, 1.06, p=0.26], respectively. We also found no significant treatment effect on households' asset ownership and living standards (RR=0.96, [CI 0.92, 1.00, p=0.253]). Lastly, there was no evidence of heterogeneity in effect estimates by patients' sex, age, education, timing of HIV diagnosis and ART initiation. Conclusions: Given the neutral effect on patients' economic welfare but positive effects on health, our findings support further investments into scaling-up immediate ART for all HIV patients. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02909218 and NCT03789448; ethical approval: Eswatini National Health Service Review Board & Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Review Board.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 2-4 and all supplementary fogures (Figures S1-S9).
- Till Bärnighausen
- Till Bärnighausen
- Till Bärnighausen
- Till Bärnighausen
- Till Bärnighausen
- Pascal Geldsetzer
- Janina Isabel Steinert
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: Ethical approval for this study was obtained from the Eswatini National Health Service Review Board in July 2014 (Reference Number: MH/599C/FWA 000 15267). Respondents gave verbal and written consent before completing the interview and were informed about their right to decline or withdraw their participation at any point in time. The study was further granted an exemption for non-human subjects research from the ethics review board of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
- Joshua T Schiffer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, United States
© 2020, Steinert et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Ageing is a heterogenous process characterised by cellular and molecular hallmarks, including changes to haematopoietic stem cells and is a primary risk factor for chronic diseases. X chromosome inactivation (XCI) randomly transcriptionally silences either the maternal or paternal X in each cell of 46, XX females to balance the gene expression with 46, XY males. Age acquired XCI-skew describes the preferential selection of cells across a tissue resulting in an imbalance of XCI, which is particularly prevalent in blood tissues of ageing females, and yet its clinical consequences are unknown.
We assayed XCI in 1575 females from the TwinsUK population cohort using DNA extracted from whole blood. We employed prospective, cross-sectional, and intra-twin study designs to characterise the relationship of XCI-skew with molecular and cellular measures of ageing, cardiovascular disease risk, and cancer diagnosis.
We demonstrate that XCI-skew is independent of traditional markers of biological ageing and is associated with a haematopoietic bias towards the myeloid lineage. Using an atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk score, which captures traditional risk factors, XCI-skew is associated with an increased cardiovascular disease risk both cross-sectionally and within XCI-skew discordant twin pairs. In a prospective 10 year follow-up study, XCI-skew is predictive of future cancer incidence.
Our study demonstrates that age acquired XCI-skew captures changes to the haematopoietic stem cell population and has clinical potential as a unique biomarker of chronic disease risk.
KSS acknowledges funding from the Medical Research Council [MR/M004422/1 and MR/R023131/1]. JTB acknowledges funding from the ESRC [ES/N000404/1]. MM acknowledges funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded BioResource, Clinical Research Facility and Biomedical Research Centre based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London. TwinsUK is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, European Union, Chronic Disease Research Foundation (CDRF), Zoe Global Ltd and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded BioResource, Clinical Research Facility and Biomedical Research Centre based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London.
Background: The combined impact of immunity and SARS-CoV-2 variants on viral kinetics during infections has been unclear.
Methods: We characterized 1,280 infections from the National Basketball Association occupational health cohort identified between June 2020 and January 2022 using serial RT-qPCR testing. Logistic regression and semi-mechanistic viral RNA kinetics models were used to quantify the effect of age, variant, symptom status, infection history, vaccination status and antibody titer to the founder SARS-CoV-2 strain on the duration of potential infectiousness and overall viral kinetics. The frequency of viral rebounds was quantified under multiple cycle threshold (Ct) value-based definitions.
Results: Among individuals detected partway through their infection, 51.0% (95% credible interval [CrI]: 48.3-53.6%) remained potentially infectious (Ct<30) five days post detection, with small differences across variants and vaccination status. Only seven viral rebounds (0.7%; N=999) were observed, with rebound defined as 3+ days with Ct<30 following an initial clearance of 3+ days with Ct≥30. High antibody titers against the founder SARS-CoV-2 strain predicted lower peak viral loads and shorter durations of infection. Among Omicron BA.1 infections, boosted individuals had lower pre-booster antibody titers and longer clearance times than non-boosted individuals.
Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 viral kinetics are partly determined by immunity and variant but dominated by individual-level variation. Since booster vaccination protects against infection, longer clearance times for BA.1-infected, boosted individuals may reflect a less effective immune response, more common in older individuals, that increases infection risk and reduces viral RNA clearance rate. The shifting landscape of viral kinetics underscores the need for continued monitoring to optimize isolation policies and to contextualize the health impacts of therapeutics and vaccines.
Funding: Supported in part by CDC contract #200-2016-91779, a sponsored research agreement to Yale University from the National Basketball Association contract #21-003529, and the National Basketball Players Association.