The impact of HIV infection on tuberculosis transmission in a country with low tuberculosis incidence: A national retrospective study using molecular epidemiology

JR Winter, CJ Smith, JA Davidson, MK Lawlor, V Delpech, I Abubakar, Helen R Stagg

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Abstract

Background
HIV is known to increase the likelihood of reactivation of latent tuberculosis to active TB disease; however, its impact on tuberculosis infectiousness and consequent transmission is unclear, particularly in low-incidence settings.
Methods
National surveillance data from England, Wales and Northern Ireland on tuberculosis cases in adults from 2010 to 2014, strain typed using 24-locus mycobacterial-interspersed-repetitive-units–variable-number-tandem-repeats was used retrospectively to identify clusters of tuberculosis cases, subdivided into ‘first’ and ‘subsequent’ cases.
Firstly, we used zero-inflated Poisson regression models to examine the association between HIV status and the number of subsequent clustered cases (a surrogate for tuberculosis infectiousness) in a strain type cluster. Secondly, we used logistic regression to examine the association between HIV status and the likelihood of being a subsequent case in a cluster (a surrogate for recent acquisition of tuberculosis infection) compared to the first case or a non-clustered case (a surrogate for reactivation of latent infection).
Results
We included 18,864 strain-typed cases, 2238 were the first cases of clusters and 8471 were subsequent cases. Seven hundred and fifty-nine (4%) were HIV-positive.
Outcome 1: HIV-positive pulmonary tuberculosis cases who were the first in a cluster had fewer subsequent cases associated with them (mean 0.6, multivariable incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.75 [0.65–0.86]) than those HIV-negative (mean 1.1).
Extra-pulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB) cases with HIV were less likely to be the first case in a cluster compared to HIV-negative EPTB cases. EPTB cases who were the first case had a higher mean number of subsequent cases (mean 2.5, IRR (3.62 [3.12–4.19]) than those HIV-negative (mean 0.6).
Outcome 2: tuberculosis cases with HIV co-infection were less likely to be a subsequent case in a cluster (odds ratio 0.82 [0.69–0.98]), compared to being the first or a non-clustered case.
Conclusions
Outcome 1: pulmonary tuberculosis-HIV patients were less infectious than those without HIV. EPTB patients with HIV who were the first case in a cluster had a higher number of subsequent cases and thus may be markers of other undetected cases, discoverable by contact investigations.
Outcome 2: tuberculosis in HIV-positive individuals was more likely due to reactivation than recent infection, compared to those who were HIV-negative.
Original languageEnglish
Article number385
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2020

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