Objectives: We aimed to compare the incidence of meningococcal disease amongst HIV-infected and uninfected individuals and to evaluate whether HIV is a risk factor for mortality and bacteremia amongst patients with meningococcal disease.
Design: Cohort surveillance study.
Methods: We conducted laboratory-based surveillance for meningococcal disease in Gauteng Province, South Africa. HIV status and outcome data were obtained at sentinel sites. Incidence in HIV-infected and uninfected persons was calculated assuming a similar age-specific HIV prevalence in tested and untested individuals. Risk factors for death and bacteremia (as compared with meningitis) were evaluated using multivariable logistic regression.
Results: From 2003 to 2007, 1336 meningococcal cases were reported. Of 504 patients at sentinel sites with known outcome, 308 (61%) had HIV serostatus data. HIV prevalence amongst cases of meningococcal disease was higher than the population HIV prevalence in all age groups. The incidence of meningococcal disease in HIV-infected individuals was elevated in all age groups with an age-adjusted relative risk of 11.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 8.9–14.3, P < 0.001]. The case-fatality ratio (CFR) was 20% (27/138) amongst HIV-infected and 11% (18/170) amongst HIV-uninfected individuals [odds ratio (OR) 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–3.9]. On multivariable analysis, CFR was greater amongst patients with bacteremia (35%, 29/82) compared with meningitis (7%, 16/226) (OR 7.8, 95% CI 3.4–17.7). HIV infection was associated with increased odds of bacteremia (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.5–5.0).
Conclusion: HIV-infected individuals may be at increased risk of meningococcal disease. The increased CFR in HIV-infected patients may be explained by their increased odds of bacteremia compared to meningitis.