Background: Although failure of tuberculosis (TB) control in sub-Saharan Africa is attributed to the HIV epidemic, it is unclear why the directly observed therapy short-course (DOTS) strategy is insufficient in this setting. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of pulmonary TB (PTB) and HIV infection in a community of 13,000 with high HIV prevalence and high TB notification rate and a well-functioning DOTS TB control program.
Methods: Active case finding for PTB was performed in 762 adults using sputum microscopy and Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture, testing for HIV, and a symptom and risk factor questionnaire. Survey findings were correlated with notification data extracted from the TB treatment register.
Results: Of those surveyed, 174 (23%) tested HIV positive, 11 (7 HIV positive) were receiving TB therapy, 6 (5 HIV positive) had previously undiagnosed smear-positive PTB, and 6 (4 HIV positive) had smear-negative/culture-positive PTB. Symptoms were not a useful screen for PTB. Among HIV-positive and -negative individuals, prevalence of notified smear-positive PTB was 1,563/100,000 and 352/100,000, undiagnosed smear-positive PTB prevalence was 2,837/100,000 and 175/100,000, and case-finding proportions were 37 and 67%, respectively. Estimated duration of infectiousness was similar for HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals. However, 87% of total person-years of undiagnosed smear-positive TB in the community were among HIV-infected individuals.
Conclusions: PTB was identified in 9% of HIV-infected individuals, with 5% being previously undiagnosed. Lack of symptoms suggestive of PTB may contribute to low case-finding rates. DOTS strategy based on passive case finding should be supplemented by active case finding targeting HIV-infected individuals.
Wood, R.; Middelkoop, K.; Myer, L.; Grant, A.D.; Whitelaw, A.; Lawn, S.D.; Kaplan, G.; Huebner, R.; McIntyre, J.; Bekker, L-G. Undiagnosed Tuberculosis in a Community with High HIV Prevalence: implications for TB control. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (2007) 175 (1) 87-93. [DOI: 10.1164/rccm.200606-759OC]