Objective(s): Many countries are considering expanding HIV treatment following recent findings emphasizing the effects of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on reducing HIV transmission in addition to already established survival benefits. Given the close interaction of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV epidemics, ART expansion could have important ramifications for TB burden. Previous studies suggest a wide range of possible TB impacts following ART expansion. We used three independently developed TB-HIV models to estimate the TB-related impact of expanding ART in South Africa.
Design: We considered two dimensions of ART expansion – improving coverage of pre-ART and ART services, and expanding CD4-based ART eligibility criteria (from CD4 <350 to CD4 <500 or all HIV-positive).
Methods: Three independent mathematical models were calibrated to the same data pertaining to the South African HIV–TB epidemic, and used to assess standardized ART policy changes. Key TB impact indictors were projected from 2014 to 2033.
Results: Compared with current eligibility and coverage, cumulative TB incidence was projected to decline by 6–30% over the period 2014-2033 if ART eligibility were expanded to all HIV positive individuals, and by 28–37% if effective ART coverage were additionally increased to 80%. Overall, expanding ART was estimated to avert one TB case for each 10–13 additional person-years of ART. All models showed that TB incidence and mortality reductions would grow over time, but would stabilize towards the end of the projection period.
Conclusion: ART expansion could substantially reduce TB incidence and mortality in South Africa and could provide a platform for collaborative HIV-TB programs to effectively halt HIV-associated TB.