Background. The performance of clinical and immunological criteria to predict virological failure in HIV-infected children receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) is not well documented.
Objective. To determine the validity of clinical and immunological monitoring in detecting virological failure in children on ART.
Methods. A total of 218 children were included in the study. All were from care and treatment clinics in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Their mean age was 10.6 years, 122 (56.0%) were males, and the mean time on ART was 40.9 months. The study was conducted from August 2011 to March 2012. Data on sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and immunological and virological failure were based on World Health Organization definitions. Blood samples were collected for CD4+ T-cell count and viral load tests.
Results. Of 217 children with available viral load results, 124 (57.1%) had virological failure (>400 copies/mL), 25.0% immunological failure and 11.5% clinical failure. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of clinical criteria were 12.9%, 90.3%, 64.0% and 43.8%, respectively, those for immunological criteria 22.6%, 73.1%, 53.3% and 41.4%, and those for the combination of clinical and immunological monitoring 25.8%, 69.9%, 53.3% and 41.4%. Children who received nevirapine (NVP)-based regimens were two times more likely (odds ratio 2.0; 95% confidence interval 1.20 - 3.64) to have virological failure than those on efavirenz and protease inhibitor-based regimens.
Conclusions. The study demonstrated poor performance of currently recommended clinical and immunological criteria for monitoring HIV-infected children on ART. Moreover, children on NVP-based regimens had a higher risk of developing virological failure than those on other regimens.
Background. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an important biomarker for microvascular disease and blindness. Digital fundus photography is a cost-effective way of screening for DR. Access to DR screening is difficult for many South Africans with diabetes.
Objective. To perform external quality assurance (EQA) on graders registered in the Ophthalmological Society of South Africa DR screening programme.
Methods. Graders registered on the South African (SA) Diabetic Register website were invited to participate in the study. The Scottish EQA software system was used to enable on-line grading of 100 retinal photographs. Expert National Health Service graders provided the consensus expert grading for the image set.
Results. Two hundred and sixty-one participants completed the EQA process, including nine ophthalmologists, 243 optometrists, and nine other graders. A wide range of outcomes were demonstrated, with a mean sensitivity of 0.905 (range 0.286 - 1.000) and mean specificity of 0.507 (0.000 - 0.935). The mean diagnostic odds ratio was calculated to be 12.3 (range 0.147 - 148.2).
Conclusions. This is the first quality assurance study conducted with SA healthcare professionals. The outcomes are of interest to all stakeholders dealing with the diabetes epidemic. The disparity in grader performance indicates room for improvement. The results demonstrate a high referral rate to ophthalmology, suggesting that on average graders are performing safely, but with a high number of inappropriate referrals.
The articles in this issue of CME reflect the views of a number of individuals who developed the guideline for the management of atopic dermatitis (AD) to improve the outcome of its treatment in South Africa (SA). AD has a major impact on the quality of life of sufferers and it is hoped that the articles and the guidelines they embody, if implemented, play a role in achieving these outcomes. Not only is AD the most common skin disease in children, but it causes tremendous morbidity. Engaging with many of these suffering children and their parents daily, is emotionally draining and energy sapping. No other skin condition places such demands on resources, time and the human spirit.
The aetiopathogenesis of atopic dermatitis (AD) is complex and during recent years much has been learnt regarding the genetic predisposition to the development of this condition and how its interaction with the environment influences clinical manifestations. AD is not a simple allergic condition. An inherited stratum corneum barrier defect, transepidermal water loss, early antigen exposure through the skin and over-hygienic care of the young child seem to be the major drivers in the manifestation of the disease. Many other, more specific, environmental factors may influence the clinical picture in individual patients; some of these have an allergic basis, while others do not.
In this article, the terminology used in this issue of CME is explained, the evidence for the different aetiopathological factors is presented and the factors that worsen or improve AD are listed.
Epidemiological studies on atopic dermatitis, primarily performed in children, have shown that the one-year prevalence rate of symptoms is population and area dependent. The few studies that have been done in South Africa among children of different age groups showed one-year prevalence rates of 1 - 13.3%. In adults, the burden of disease is significant. The prevalence rates and age-related percentages of those affected vary between the countries where studies were undertaken. While about 60% of cases show spontaneous clearing by puberty, the condition may recur in adults.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is essentially diagnosed clinically. In babies and young children, the diagnosis is usually straightforward. Dry, very pruritic dermatitis starts on the cheeks, with the neck and trunk often involved, but the nappy area spared. Limb involvement follows later - first extensoral, later classically flexural. This is mostly the picture of AD. In adults, the presentation may vary widely. Classic flexural dermatitis may persist, but erythroderma (whole-body involvement), head and neck dermatitis, isolated hand dermatitis and nummular dermatitis may be more difficult to identify as AD.
Educating patients with atopic dermatitis is an essential and necessary part of therapy and particularly important when young children are involved. Quality of life is seriously impaired if patients or their carers do not understand the chronic and relapsing nature of the disease and how it can be treated.
Non-pharmacological measures to improve the management of atopic dermatitis (AD) are as important as pharmacotherapy for true healing of the skin. Skin dryness (which contributes to inflammation, loss of suppleness (leading to fissuring), impaired barrier function, and increased adherence of Staphylococcus aureus organisms) can be overcome by the use of emollients. Ointments and creams provide better barrier function than lotions.
Bathing is an important part of the management of AD. Regular, once-daily bathing in warm (not hot) water to hydrate the skin and debride crusts is important. Scented soaps should be avoided and replaced with a moisturising cleanser. After bathing, patients should pat the skin dry and apply emollients immediately.
Routine use of topical or systemic antibacterial or antifungal agents is not recommended for AD, but during flares such agents may be invaluable.
There is no specific diet for the treatment of AD. Elimination diets are not routine treatment and are potentially harmful. Food elimination should be reserved for those children who have been proven to be allergic to the specific food.
Topical corticosteroids (TCSs) continue to be the mainstay of atopic dermatitis (AD) treatment. For more than four decades TCSs have provided effective flare control by means of their anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, immunosuppressive and vasoconstrictive actions. They suppress the release of inflammatory cytokines and act on a variety of immune cells, including T lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells and their precursors. Various strengths and formulations of TCSs are available. The extent to which they induce cutaneous vasoconstriction and inhibit inflammation corresponds to their potency.
Topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) (pimecrolimus and tacrolimus) are complex macrocyclic compounds that result in selective inhibition of cytokine transcription in activated T cells. TCIs are registered for short-term and non-continuous chronic treatment of moderate to severe AD in immunocompetent patients aged ≥2 years. Systemic corticosteroids are frequently used for short-term therapy of severe AD, but their use is controversial. Complementary/alternative therapies have no proven benefit in AD.