HIV affects the pathogenesis and the transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We used a discrete event simulation model to predict the potential impact of HIV on increasing the probability and the expected severity of tuberculosis outbreaks. Our predictions reveal that an HIV epidemic can significantly increase the frequency and severity of tuberculosis outbreaks, but that this amplification effect of HIV on tuberculosis outbreaks is very sensitive to the tuberculosis treatment rate. At moderate or low treatment rates, even a moderate HIV epidemic can cause the average size of tuberculosis outbreaks to almost double in comparison with the expected outbreak size when HIV is absent. However, we determined that the amplification effect of HIV can be substantially reduced if the treatment rate of tuberculosis is very high. We discuss the significant implications of these results for the global control of tuberculosis. Our results also reveal that occasionally a “normal-virulence” strain of M. tuberculosis can be expected to generate a large outbreak. We discuss the implications of these results in understanding the virulence of M. tuberculosis and in the planned elimination of tuberculosis in the United States.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Sally M. Blower, Department of Biomathematics and UCLA AIDS Institute, University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, 10833 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095 U.S.A.; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuscript received May 23, 2001; accepted September 6, 2001.
© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.