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

Joanne R. Winter, Colette J. Smith, Jennifer A. Davidson, Maeve Lalor, Valerie Delpech, Ibrahim Abubakar*, Helen Stagg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
JRW was funded by a UCL IMPACT studentship. This report is independent research supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), UK (Post Doctoral Fellowship, Dr. Helen Stagg, PDF-2014-07-008). HRS also acknowledges funding from the Medical Research Council, UK (MRC; MR/R008345/1), and from the NIHR outside of the submitted work. IA acknowledges funding from NIHR (SRF-2011-04-001; NF-SI-0616-10037), MRC (MC_PC_16023, MC_UU_12023/27, MR/M02654X/1) and the Wellcome Trust. These funding sources had no involvement in the study design; the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data; the writing of the report or the decision to submit the paper for publication. The corresponding author had full access to all data in the study and had final responsibility to submit the paper for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Co-infection
  • HIV
  • MIRU-VNTR
  • Transmission
  • Tuberculosis

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