Tuberculosis epidemics driven by HIV: is prevention better than cure?

Currie, Christine SMa; Williams, Brian Gb; Cheng, Russell CHa; Dye, Christopherb

Epidemiology & Social

Objective: To compare the benefits of tuberculosis (TB) treatment with TB and HIV prevention for the control of TB in regions with high HIV prevalence.

Design and methods: A compartmental difference equation model of TB and HIV has been developed and fitted to time series and other published data using Bayesian methods. The model is used to compare the effectiveness of TB chemotherapy with three strategies for prevention: highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the treatment of latent TB infection (TLTI) and the reduction of HIV transmission.

Results: Even where the prevalence of HIV infection is high, finding and curing active TB is the most effective way to minimize the number of TB cases and deaths over the next 10 years. HAART can be as effective, but only with very high levels of coverage and compliance. TLTI is comparatively ineffective over all time scales. Reducing HIV incidence is relatively ineffective in preventing TB and TB deaths over 10 years but is much more effective over 20 years.

Conclusions: In countries where the spread of HIV has led to a substantial increase in the incidence of TB, TB control programmes should maintain a strong emphasis on the treatment of active TB. To ensure effective control of TB in the longer term, methods of TB prevention should be carried out in addition to, but not as a substitute for, treating active cases.

From the aFaculty of Mathematical Studies, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK and bCommunicable Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Requests for reprints to: Dr C. Dye, Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, P Box PA/OMS/CDS Geneva, Switzerland.

Received: 6 September 2002; revised: 30 January 2003; accepted: 19 March 2003.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.