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Concept: South Africa


Background Drug-resistant tuberculosis threatens recent gains in the treatment of tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection worldwide. A widespread epidemic of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis is occurring in South Africa, where cases have increased substantially since 2002. The factors driving this rapid increase have not been fully elucidated, but such knowledge is needed to guide public health interventions. Methods We conducted a prospective study involving 404 participants in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, with a diagnosis of XDR tuberculosis between 2011 and 2014. Interviews and medical-record reviews were used to elicit information on the participants' history of tuberculosis and HIV infection, hospitalizations, and social networks. Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates underwent insertion sequence (IS)6110 restriction-fragment-length polymorphism analysis, targeted gene sequencing, and whole-genome sequencing. We used clinical and genotypic case definitions to calculate the proportion of cases of XDR tuberculosis that were due to inadequate treatment of multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (i.e., acquired resistance) versus those that were due to transmission (i.e., transmitted resistance). We used social-network analysis to identify community and hospital locations of transmission. Results Of the 404 participants, 311 (77%) had HIV infection; the median CD4+ count was 340 cells per cubic millimeter (interquartile range, 117 to 431). A total of 280 participants (69%) had never received treatment for MDR tuberculosis. Genotypic analysis in 386 participants revealed that 323 (84%) belonged to 1 of 31 clusters. Clusters ranged from 2 to 14 participants, except for 1 large cluster of 212 participants (55%) with a LAM4/KZN strain. Person-to-person or hospital-based epidemiologic links were identified in 123 of 404 participants (30%). Conclusions The majority of cases of XDR tuberculosis in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, an area with a high tuberculosis burden, were probably due to transmission rather than to inadequate treatment of MDR tuberculosis. These data suggest that control of the epidemic of drug-resistant tuberculosis requires an increased focus on interrupting transmission. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others.).

Concepts: HIV, AIDS, Immune system, Infectious disease, Tuberculosis, South Africa, Tuberculosis treatment, Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis


Expanded access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) using universal test and treat (UTT) has been suggested as a strategy to eliminate HIV in South Africa within 7 y based on an influential mathematical modeling study. However, the underlying deterministic model was criticized widely, and other modeling studies did not always confirm the study’s finding. The objective of our study is to better understand the implications of different model structures and assumptions, so as to arrive at the best possible predictions of the long-term impact of UTT and the possibility of elimination of HIV.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Viral load, Mathematics, Africa, South Africa


Based on specimens previously identified as Tropidostoma, a new taxon of dicynodont (Bulbasaurus phylloxyron gen. et sp. nov.) from the Karoo Basin of South Africa is described. Bulbasaurus is a medium-sized dicynodont (maximum dorsal skull length 16.0 cm) restricted to the Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone (early Lopingian) of the Beaufort Group. Bulbasaurus can be distinguished from Tropidostoma by an array of characters including the presence of a tall, sharp premaxillary ridge, large, rugose, nearly-confluent nasal bosses, a nasofrontal ridge, massive tusks, robust pterygoids, prominently twisted subtemporal bar, and absence of a distinct postfrontal. Inclusion of Bulbasaurus in a phylogenetic analysis of anomodont therapsids recovers it as a member of Geikiidae, a clade of otherwise later Permian dicynodonts such as Aulacephalodon and Pelanomodon. Bulbasaurus exhibits many of the characters typical of adult Aulacephalodon, but at substantially smaller skull size (these characters are absent in comparably-sized Aulacephalodon juveniles), suggesting that the evolution of typical geikiid morphology preceded gigantism in the clade. Bulbasaurus is the earliest known geikiid and the only member of the group known from the Tropidostoma Assemblage Zone; discovery of this taxon shortens a perplexing ghost lineage and indicates that abundant clades from the later Permian of South Africa (e.g., Geikiidae, Dicynodontoidea) may have originated as rare components of earlier Karoo assemblage zones.

Concepts: Phylogenetic nomenclature, South Africa, Cladistics, Synapsid, Dicynodont, Therapsida, Anomodont, Beaufort Group


Many mathematical models have investigated the impact of expanding access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) on new HIV infections. Comparing results and conclusions across models is challenging because models have addressed slightly different questions and have reported different outcome metrics. This study compares the predictions of several mathematical models simulating the same ART intervention programmes to determine the extent to which models agree about the epidemiological impact of expanded ART.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Infectious disease, Africa, South Africa, Mathematical model


Intersections between migration and sex work are underexplored in southern Africa, a region with high internal and cross-border population mobility, and HIV prevalence. Sex work often constitutes an important livelihood activity for migrant women. In 2010, sex workers trained as interviewers conducted cross-sectional surveys with 1,653 female sex workers in Johannesburg (Hillbrow and Sandton), Rustenburg and Cape Town. Most (85.3 %) sex workers were migrants (1396/1636): 39.0 % (638/1636) internal and 46.3 % (758/1636) cross-border. Cross-border migrants had higher education levels, predominately worked part-time, mainly at indoor venues, and earned more per client than other groups. They, however, had 41 % lower health service contact (adjusted odds ratio = 0.59; 95 % confidence interval = 0.40-0.86) and less frequent condom use than non-migrants. Police interaction was similar. Cross-border migrants appear more tenacious in certain aspects of sex work, but require increased health service contact. Migrant-sensitive, sex work-specific health care and health education are needed.

Concepts: Health care, Public health, Health, Africa, Human migration, South Africa, Higher education, Johannesburg


Ticks carry and transmit a remarkable array of pathogens including bacteria, protozoa and viruses, which may be of veterinary and/or of medical significance. With little to no information regarding the presence of tick-borne zoonotic pathogens or their known vectors in southern Africa, the aim of our study was to screen for Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, Coxiella burnetii, Rickettsia species and Ehrlichia ruminantium in ticks collected and identified from ruminants in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces of South Africa. The most abundant tick species identified in this study were Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi (40%), Rhipicephalus species (35%), Amblyomma hebraeum (10%) and Rhipicephalus decoloratus (14%). A total of 1,634 ticks were collected. DNA was extracted, and samples were subjected to PCR amplification and sequencing. The overall infection rates of ticks with the target pathogens in the four Provinces were as follows: A. phagocytophilum, 7%; C. burnetii, 7%; E. ruminantium, 28%; and Rickettsia spp., 27%. The presence of B. burgdorferi could not be confirmed. The findings of this study show that zoonotic pathogens are present in ticks in the studied South African provinces. This information will aid in the epidemiology of tick-borne zoonotic diseases in the country as well as in raising awareness about such diseases in the veterinary, medical and tourism sectors, as they may be the most affected.

Concepts: Bacteria, Africa, Coxiella burnetii, Q fever, Lyme disease, South Africa, Borrelia burgdorferi, Eastern Cape


The objectives of this study were to determine if a video improved HIV/AIDS and HIV testing knowledge among a global sample of Internet users, to discern if this improvement was the same for English and Spanish speakers, and to ascertain if the video was efficacious for those with lower health literacy. A worldwide sample of English- or Spanish-speaking Internet users was solicited. Participants completed a 25-item questionnaire to assess their HIV/AIDS and HIV testing knowledge before and after watching the video. Mean scores on the questionnaire improved after watching the video for both English speakers (after: 19.6 versus before: 16.4; Δ = 3.2; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.8-3.5) and Spanish speakers (20.7 versus 17.3; Δ = 3.4; 95% CI: 3.0-3.8). There was no difference in improvement of scores between English and Spanish speakers (Δ = -0.24; 95% CI: -0.79 to 0.31), and this video was equally efficacious for those with lower and higher health literacy skills.

Concepts: HIV/AIDS, Better, Statistics, Improve, Sample size, Spanish language, South Africa, English language


Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is associated with early child health; its longer-term benefits for child development remain inconclusive. We examine the associations between EBF, HIV exposure, and other maternal/child factors and the cognitive and emotional-behavioural development of children aged 7-11 y.

Concepts: Psychology, Africa, Cognitive psychology, Cognitive science, Childhood, South Africa, Developmental psychology, Human Development Index


The research objective was to test the hypothesis that corporate health and wellness contributed positively to South African companies' financial results.

Concepts: Human, Africa, Black people, South Africa, Overseas Chinese, African Union, Zimbabwe, 2003 Cricket World Cup


In July 1996, researchers, policymakers, and activists involved in the fight against HIV-AIDS met in Vancouver, Canada, for the 11th International Conference on AIDS. During that historic meeting, practitioners and patients heard evidence regarding a powerful weapon to stop the relentless onslaught of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): combination antiretroviral therapy (ART), with a protease inhibitor as the centerpiece of the regimen. In the nearly 20 years since that watershed meeting, the early promise of durable effects from combination therapy has been realized for many patients: between 2000 and 2014, the rollout of ART saved an estimated 7.8 million lives . . .

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Immune system, Tuberculosis, South Africa, Immunodeficiency