Displaying publications 1 - 20 of 91 in total

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  1. Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Curr. Opin. Infect. Dis., 2015 Feb;28(1):10-6.
    PMID: 25490106 DOI: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000125
    HIV management in people who use drugs (PWUD) is typically complex and challenging due to the presence of multiple medical and psychiatric comorbidities as well as social, physical, economic and legal factors that often disrupt the HIV continuum of care. In this review, we describe the individual, health systems and societal barriers to HIV treatment access and care retention for PWUD. In addition, the clinical management of HIV-infected PWUD is often complicated by the presence of multiple infectious and noninfectious comorbidities.
  2. Al-Darraji HA, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Int. J. Tuberc. Lung Dis., 2012 Jul;16(7):871-9.
    PMID: 22410101 DOI: 10.5588/ijtld.11.0447
    Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and the main cause of death in correctional facilities in middle- and low-income countries. Due to the closed environment and the concentration of individuals with TB-related risk factors, effective measures are required to control TB in such settings. Isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) represents an effective and cost-effective measure. Despite international recommendations that IPT be integral to TB control, it is seldom deployed. A systematic review of interventions used to assess IPT initiation and completion in correctional facilities was conducted using published studies from two biomedical databases and relevant keywords. Additional references were reviewed, resulting in 18 eligible studies. Most (72%) studies were conducted in the United States and in jail settings (60%), with the main objective of improving completion rates inside the facility or after release. Studies that provided data about initiation and completion rates showed poor success in correctional facilities. Adverse consequences and treatment interruption ranged from 1% to 55% (median 5%) in reported studies; hepatotoxicity was the most prevalent adverse reaction. Despite its accelerating effect on the development of active TB, information on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status was provided in only half of the studies. Among the four studies where IPT effectiveness was assessed, the results mirror those described in community settings. Future studies require thorough assessments of IPT initiation and completion rates and adverse effects, particularly in low- and middle-income countries and where comorbid viral hepatitis may contribute significantly to outcomes, and in settings where TB and HIV are more endemic.
  3. Kamarulzaman A, Verster A, Altice FL
    Curr Opin HIV AIDS, 2019 Sep;14(5):415-422.
    PMID: 31343458 DOI: 10.1097/COH.0000000000000572
    PURPOSE OF REVIEW: People with HIV and HCV are concentrated within criminal justice settings globally, primarily related to criminalization of drug use. This review examines updated prevention and treatment strategies for HIV and HCV within prison with a focus on people who inject drugs and the challenges associated with the provision of these services within prisons and other closed settings and transition to the community.

    RECENT FINDINGS: The prevalence of HIV and HCV are several-fold higher in the criminal justice system than within the broader community particularly in regions with high prevalence of injecting drug use, such as Asia, Eastern Europe and North America and where drug use is criminalized. Strategies to optimize management for these infections include routine screening linked to treatment within these settings and medication-assisted treatments for opioid dependence and access to syringe services programs. We build upon the 2016 WHO Consolidated Guidelines through the lens of the key populations of prisoners. Linkage to treatment postrelease, has been universally dismal, but is improved when linked to medication-assisted therapies like methadone, buprenorphine and overdose management. In many prisons, particularly in low-income and middle-income settings, provision of even basic healthcare including mental healthcare and basic HIV prevention tools remain suboptimal.

    SUMMARY: In order to address HIV and HCV prevention and treatment within criminal justice settings, substantial improvement in the delivery of basic healthcare is needed in many prisons worldwide together with effective screening, treatment and linkage of treatment and prevention services to medication-assisted therapies within prison and linkage to care after release.

  4. Al-Darraji HA, Altice FL, Kamarulzaman A
    Trop. Med. Int. Health, 2016 Aug;21(8):1049-1058.
    PMID: 27197601 DOI: 10.1111/tmi.12726
    OBJECTIVES: To investigate the prevalence of previously undiagnosed active tuberculosis (TB) cases among prisoners in Malaysia's largest prison using an intensified TB case-finding strategy.

    METHODS: From October 2012 to May 2013, prisoners housed in two distinct units (HIV-negative and HIV-positive) were approached to participate in the TB screening study. Consenting prisoners submitted two sputum samples that were examined using GeneXpert MTB/RIF, smear microscopy and liquid culture. Socio-demographic and clinical information was collected and correlates of active TB, defined as having either a positive GeneXpert MTB/RIF or culture results, were assessed using regression analyses.

    RESULTS: Among the total of 559 prisoners, 442 (79.1%) had complete data; 28.7% were HIV-infected, 80.8% were men and the average age was 36.4 (SD 9.8) years. Overall, 34 (7.7%) had previously undiagnosed active TB, of whom 64.7% were unable to complete their TB treatment in prison due to insufficient time (<6 months) remaining in prison. Previously undiagnosed active TB was independently associated with older age groups (AOR 11.44 and 6.06 for age ≥ 50 and age 40-49 years, respectively) and with higher levels of immunosuppression (CD4 < 200 cells/ml) in HIV-infected prisoners (AOR 3.07, 95% CI 1.03-9.17).

    CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of previously undiagnosed active TB in this prison highlights the inadequate performance of internationally recommended case-finding strategies and suggests that passive case-finding policies should be abandoned, especially in prison settings where HIV infection is prevalent. Moreover, partnerships between criminal justice and public health treatment systems are crucial to continue TB treatment after release.

  5. Copenhaver M, Shrestha R, Wickersham JA, Weikum D, Altice FL
    J Subst Abuse Treat, 2016 Apr;63:61-5.
    PMID: 26879859 DOI: 10.1016/j.jsat.2016.01.002
    The present study examines the factor structure of the existing Neuropsychological Impairment Scale (NIS) through the use of exploratory factor analysis (EFA). The NIS is a brief, self-report measure originally designed to assess neurocognitive impairment (NCI) by having patients rate a range of items that may influence cognitive functioning. Stabilized patients on methadone maintenance therapy (MMT; N=339) in New Haven, CT who reported drug- or sex-related HIV risk behaviors in the past 6 months were administered the full 95-item NIS. An EFA was then conducted using principal axis factoring and orthogonal varimax rotation. The EFA resulted in retaining 57 items, with a 9-factor solution that explained 54.8% of the overall variance. The revised 9-factor measure--now referred to as the Brief Inventory of Neuro-cognitive Impairment (BINI)--showed a diverse set of factors with excellent to good reliability (i.e., F1 α=0.97 to F9 α=0.73). This EFA suggests the potential utility of using the BINI in the context of addiction treatment. Further research should examine the utility of this tool within other clinical care settings.
  6. Al-Darraji HA, Tan C, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Occup Environ Med, 2015 Jun;72(6):442-7.
    PMID: 25794506 DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2014-102695
    OBJECTIVES: Although prison employees share the same tuberculosis (TB) risk environment with prisoners, the magnitude of TB problems among prison employees is unknown in most resource-limited prisons. This survey was conducted to investigate the prevalence and correlates of tuberculin skin test (TST) positivity among employees in Malaysia's largest prison.

    METHODS: Consented, full-time prison employees were interviewed using a structured questionnaire that included sociodemographic data, history of working in the correctional system and TB-related risk. TST was placed intradermally and read after 48-72 h. Induration size of ≥10 mm was considered positive. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to explore associations with TST positivity.

    RESULTS: Of the 445 recruited prison employees, 420 (94.4%) had complete data. Most were young (median=30.0 years) men (88.8%) who had only worked at this prison (76.4%) for a median total employment period of 60 months (IQR 34.5-132.0). The majority were correctional officers, while civilian employees represented only 7.6% of the sample. Only 26 (6.2%) reported having ever been screened for TB since employment. Prevalence of TST positivity was 81% and was independently associated with longer (≥12 months) prison employment (AOR 4.9; 95% CI 1.5 to 15.9) and current tobacco smoking (AOR=1.9, 95% CI 1.2 to 3.2).

    CONCLUSIONS: Latent TB prevalence was high in this sample, approximating that of prisoners in this setting, perhaps suggesting within prison TB transmission in this facility. Formal TB control programmes for personnel and prisoners alike are urgently needed within the Malaysian correctional system.

  7. Vijay A, Bazazi AR, Yee I, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    J Subst Abuse Treat, 2015 Jul;54:29-36.
    PMID: 25841703 DOI: 10.1016/j.jsat.2015.01.014
    Little is known about attitudes toward and experiences with opioid maintenance therapy (OMT) among people who inject drugs in Malaysia, a country where people who inject drugs comprise 1.3% of the adult population.
  8. Margolis B, Al-Darraji HA, Wickersham JA, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Int. J. Tuberc. Lung Dis., 2013 Dec;17(12):1538-44.
    PMID: 24200265 DOI: 10.5588/ijtld.13.0193
    There are currently no routine screening procedures for active tuberculosis (TB) or latent tuberculous infection (LTBI) in Malaysian prisons.
  9. Shrestha R, Weikum D, Copenhaver M, Altice FL
    AIDS Behav, 2017 Apr;21(4):1070-1081.
    PMID: 27544515 DOI: 10.1007/s10461-016-1526-3
    Prior research has widely recognized neurocognitive impairment (NCI), depression, and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) as important negative predictors of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among people living with HIV (PLWH). No studies to date, however, have explored how these neuropsychological factors operate together and affect HRQoL. Incarcerated male PLWH (N = 301) meeting criteria for opioid dependence were recruited from Malaysia's largest prison. Standardized scales for NCI, depression, alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and HRQoL were used to conduct a moderated mediation model to explore the extent to which depression mediated the relationship between NCI, HRQoL, and AUDs using an ordinary least squares regression-based path analytic framework. Results showed that increasing levels of NCI (B = -0.1773, p 
  10. Zelenev A, Long E, Bazazi AR, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Int. J. Drug Policy, 2016 11;37:98-106.
    PMID: 27639995 DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.08.008
    BACKGROUND: HIV is primarily concentrated among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Malaysia, where currently HIV prevention and treatment coverage is inadequate. To improve the targeting of interventions, we examined HIV clustering and the role that social networks and geographical distance play in influencing HIV transmission among PWID.

    METHODS: Data were derived from a respondent-driven survey sample (RDS) collected during 2010 of 460 PWID in greater Kuala Lumpur. Analysis focused on socio-demographic, clinical, behavioural, and network information. Spatial probit models were developed based on a distinction between the influence of peers (individuals nominated through a recruitment network) and neighbours (residing a close distance to the individual). The models were expanded to account for the potential influence of the network formation.

    RESULTS: Recruitment patterns of HIV-infected PWID clustered both spatially and across the recruitment networks. In addition, HIV-infected PWID were more likely to have peers and neighbours who inject with clean needles were HIV-infected and lived nearby (<5km), more likely to have been previously incarcerated, less likely to use clean needles (26.8% vs 53.0% of the reported injections, p<0.01), and have fewer recent injection partners (2.4 vs 5.4, p<0.01). The association between the HIV status of peers and neighbours remained significantly correlated even after controlling for unobserved variation related to network formation and sero-sorting.

    CONCLUSION: The relationship between HIV status across networks and space in Kuala Lumpur underscores the importance of these factors for surveillance and prevention strategies, and this needs to be more closely integrated. RDS can be applied to identify injection network structures, and this provides an important mechanism for improving public health surveillance, accessing high-risk populations, and implementing risk-reduction interventions to slow HIV transmission.

  11. Shrestha R, Weikum D, Copenhaver M, Altice FL
    Int J Ment Health Addict, 2017 Aug;15(4):812-825.
    PMID: 29051714 DOI: 10.1007/s11469-017-9752-0
    While neurocognitive impairment (NCI) among people living with HIV (PLWH) who use drugs and its impact on HIV treatment outcomes continue to be widely investigated, there remains a critical gap in NCI assessment among HIV-infected people who use drugs (PWUD) in Malaysian context. The present study, therefore, sought to improve the utility of the existing Neuropsychological Impairment Scale (NIS) as a screening tool for assessing NCI by establishing its psychometric properties in the Malaysian context. The NIS is a brief, self-report measure originally designed to assess NCI by having individuals rate a range of items that may influence cognitive functioning. HIV-infected male prisoners (N=301) administered the full 95-item NIS. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted using principal axis factoring and orthogonal varimax rotation. Reliability was measured using Cronbach's alpha. The EFA resulted in an abbreviated, psychometrically sound, eight-factor structure (54-item) revised NIS - now referred to as the Brief Inventory of Neuro-cognitive Impairment-Malaysia (BINI-M). It is better designed to detect NCI in PLWH, ranging from generalized neurocognitive symptoms to more specific forms of impairment with excellent to average reliability. The BINI-M may serve as a useful tool for clinicians and researchers to assess NCI in PLWH and can inform enhanced treatment strategies in the Malaysian context.
  12. Zelenev A, Li J, Mazhnaya A, Basu S, Altice FL
    Lancet Infect Dis, 2018 02;18(2):215-224.
    PMID: 29153265 DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30676-X
    BACKGROUND: Chronic infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV are highly prevalent in the USA and concentrated in people who inject drugs. Treatment as prevention with highly effective new direct-acting antivirals is a prospective HCV elimination strategy. We used network-based modelling to analyse the effect of this strategy in HCV-infected people who inject drugs in a US city.

    METHODS: Five graph models were fit using data from 1574 people who inject drugs in Hartford, CT, USA. We used a degree-corrected stochastic block model, based on goodness-of-fit, to model networks of injection drug users. We simulated transmission of HCV and HIV through this network with varying levels of HCV treatment coverage (0%, 3%, 6%, 12%, or 24%) and varying baseline HCV prevalence in people who inject drugs (30%, 60%, 75%, or 85%). We compared the effectiveness of seven treatment-as-prevention strategies on reducing HCV prevalence over 10 years and 20 years versus no treatment. The strategies consisted of treatment assigned to either a randomly chosen individual who injects drugs or to an individual with the highest number of injection partners. Additional strategies explored the effects of treating either none, half, or all of the injection partners of the selected individual, as well as a strategy based on respondent-driven recruitment into treatment.

    FINDINGS: Our model estimates show that at the highest baseline HCV prevalence in people who inject drugs (85%), expansion of treatment coverage does not substantially reduce HCV prevalence for any treatment-as-prevention strategy. However, when baseline HCV prevalence is 60% or lower, treating more than 120 (12%) individuals per 1000 people who inject drugs per year would probably eliminate HCV within 10 years. On average, assigning treatment randomly to individuals who inject drugs is better than targeting individuals with the most injection partners. Treatment-as-prevention strategies that treat additional network members are among the best performing strategies and can enhance less effective strategies that target the degree (ie, the highest number of injection partners) within the network.

    INTERPRETATION: Successful HCV treatment as prevention should incorporate the baseline HCV prevalence and will achieve the greatest benefit when coverage is sufficiently expanded.

    FUNDING: National Institute on Drug Abuse.

  13. Choi P, Kavasery R, Desai MM, Govindasamy S, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Int J STD AIDS, 2010 Jun;21(6):416-23.
    PMID: 20606222 DOI: 10.1258/ijsa.2009.009180
    HIV-infected prisoners face an inordinate number of community re-entry challenges. In 2007, 102 HIV-infected prisoners in Malaysia were surveyed anonymously within six months prior to release to assess the prevalence and correlates of community re-entry challenges. Staying out of prison (60.8%), remaining off drugs (39.2%), finding employment (35.3%) and obtaining HIV care (32.4%) were the re-entry challenges reported most frequently. Global stigma, negative self-image and public attitudes-related stigma were independently associated with challenges to obtaining HIV care. In multivariate analyses, those with previous incarcerations (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 3.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4-7.6), higher HIV-related symptoms (AOR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.0-4.1) and higher public attitudes-related stigma (AOR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.2-5.1) had a significantly higher likelihood of identifying more re-entry challenges. Targeted interventions, such as effective drug treatment, HIV care and public awareness campaigns, are crucial for stemming the HIV epidemic and improving health outcomes among HIV-infected prisoners in Malaysia.
  14. Gibson BA, Ghosh D, Morano JP, Altice FL
    Health Place, 2014 Jul;28:153-66.
    PMID: 24853039 DOI: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.04.008
    We mapped mobile medical clinic (MMC) clients for spatial distribution of their self-reported locations and travel behaviors to better understand health-seeking and utilization patterns of medically vulnerable populations in Connecticut. Contrary to distance decay literature, we found that a small but significant proportion of clients was traveling substantial distances to receive repeat care at the MMC. Of 8404 total clients, 90.2% lived within 5 miles of a MMC site, yet mean utilization was highest (5.3 visits per client) among those living 11-20 miles of MMCs, primarily for those with substance use disorders. Of clients making >20 visits, 15.0% traveled >10 miles, suggesting that a significant minority of clients traveled to MMC sites because of their need-specific healthcare services, which are not only free but available at an acceptable and accommodating environment. The findings of this study contribute to the important research on healthcare utilization among vulnerable population by focusing on broader dimensions of accessibility in a setting where both mobile and fixed healthcare services coexist.
  15. Bruce RD, Govindasamy S, Sylla L, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse, 2009;35(2):68-72.
    PMID: 19212931 DOI: 10.1080/00952990802585406
    Diversion of buprenorphine (BPN) has been described in settings where it is legally prescribed and has resulted in increasing concern. To address this concern, co-formulation of buprenorphine/naloxone (BPN/NLX) replaced buprenorphine alone in Malaysia in December 2006.
  16. Al-Darraji HA, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    BMC Public Health, 2014 Jan 10;14:22.
    PMID: 24405607 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-22
    Prisons continue to fuel tuberculosis (TB) epidemics particularly in settings where access to TB screening and prevention services is limited. Malaysia is a middle-income country with a relatively high incarceration rate of 138 per 100,000 population. Despite national TB incidence rate remaining unchanged over the past ten years, data about TB in prisons and its contribution to the overall national rates does not exist. This survey was conducted to address the prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) in Malaysia's largest prison.
  17. Azbel L, Rozanova J, Michels I, Altice FL, Stöver H
    Harm Reduct J, 2017 07 10;14(1):43.
    PMID: 28693573 DOI: 10.1186/s12954-017-0168-8
    BACKGROUND: Kyrgyzstan, where HIV is concentrated in prisons and driven by injection drug use, provides a prison-based methadone maintenance therapy program as well as abstinence-oriented therapeutic community based on the 12-step model called the "Clean Zone." We aimed to qualitatively assess how prisoners navigate between these treatment options to understand the persistence of the Clean Zone despite a lack of evidence to support its effectiveness in treating opioid use disorders.

    METHODS: We conducted an analysis of policy documents and over 60 h of participant observation in February 2016, which included focus groups with a convenience sample of 20 therapeutic community staff members, 110 prisoners across three male and one female prisons, and qualitative interviews with two former Clean Zone participants. Field notes containing verbatim quotes from participants were analyzed through iterative reading and discussion to understand how participants generally perceive the program, barriers to entry and retention, and implications for future treatment within prisons.

    RESULTS: Our analyses discerned three themes: pride in the mission of the Clean Zone, idealism regarding addiction treatment outcomes against all odds, and the demonization of methadone.

    CONCLUSION: Despite low enrollment and lack of an evidence base, the therapeutic community is buttressed by the strong support of the prison administration and its clients as an "ordered" alternative to what is seen as chaotic life outside of the Clean Zone. The lack of services for Clean Zone patients after release likely contributes to high rates of relapse to drug use. The Clean Zone would benefit from integration of stabilized methadone patients combined with a post-release program.

  18. Meyer JP, Muthulingam D, El-Bassel N, Altice FL
    AIDS Behav, 2017 Dec;21(12):3527-3548.
    PMID: 28534199 DOI: 10.1007/s10461-017-1778-6
    The criminal justice (CJ) system can be leveraged to access women for HIV prevention and treatment programs. Research is lacking on effective implementation strategies tailored to the specific needs of CJ-involved women. We conducted a scoping review of published studies in English from the United States that described HIV interventions, involved women or girls, and used the CJ system as an access point for sampling or intervention delivery. We identified 350 studies and synthesized data from 42 unique interventions, based in closed (n = 26), community (n = 7), or multiple/other CJ settings (n = 9). A minority of reviewed programs incorporated women-specific content or conducted gender-stratified analyses. CJ systems are comprised of diverse access points, each with unique strengths and challenges for implementing HIV treatment and prevention programs for women. Further study is warranted to develop women-specific and trauma-informed content and evaluate program effectiveness.
  19. Rich KM, Bia J, Altice FL, Feinberg J
    Curr HIV/AIDS Rep, 2018 06;15(3):266-275.
    PMID: 29774442 DOI: 10.1007/s11904-018-0396-x
    PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To describe models of integrated and co-located care for opioid use disorder (OUD), hepatitis C (HCV), and HIV.

    RECENT FINDINGS: The design and scale-up of multidisciplinary care models that engage, retain, and treat individuals with HIV, HCV, and OUD are critical to preventing continued spread of HIV and HCV. We identified 17 models within primary care (N = 3), HIV specialty care (N = 5), opioid treatment programs (N = 6), transitional clinics (N = 2), and community-based harm reduction programs (N = 1), as well as two emerging models. Key components of such models are the provision of (1) medication-assisted treatment for OUD, (2) HIV and HCV treatment, (3) HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, and (4) behavioral health services. Research is needed to understand differences in effectiveness between co-located and fully integrated care, combat the deleterious racial and ethnic legacies of the "War on Drugs," and inform the delivery of psychiatric care. Increased access to harm reduction services is crucial.

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