Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been remarkably effective in ameliorating Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-associated morbidity and mortality. The rapid decline in viral load during ART also presents an opportunity to develop a “treatment as prevention” strategy in order to reduce HIV transmission at a population level. Modelling exercises have demonstrated that for this strategy to be effective, early initiation of ART with high coverage of the HIVinfected population will be required. The HIV epidemic has fueled a resurgence of tuberculosis (TB) particularly in sub- Saharan Africa and widespread early initiation of ART could also impact this epidemic via several mechanisms. The proportion of patients with low CD4 cell counts who are at high risk of TB disease from progression of both latent and new TB infection would be greatly reduced. Entry into a life-long ART program provides an ongoing opportunity for intensified TB case finding among the HIV-infected population. Regular screening for HIV infection also presents an opportunity for intensified TB case finding in the general population. The combined effect of reduced progression of infection to disease and intensified case finding could reduce the overall prevalence of infectious TB, thereby further decreasing TB transmission. In addition, decreasing prevalence of HIV infection would reduce the TB-susceptible pool within the population. The ‘test and treat’ strategy therefore has potential to reduce the TB risk at both an individual and a population level. In this paper we explore the expected “TB dividend” of wider access to ART and also explore the potential of the “test and treat” strategy to impact on TB transmission, particularly in the heavily burdened setting of sub- Saharan Africa.
Keywords: Communicable disease control, HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy, HIV prevention, tuberculosis prevention, TB outbreaks, EPIDEMIOLOGY, Transmission Risk, CONTROL INTERVENTIONS
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