To assess the prevalence of severe transaminitis precluding tuberculosis (TB) preventive therapy (TPT) initiation for people with HIV (PWH) in a high TB/HIV burden setting.
We conducted a secondary analysis of data from a prospective cohort study of PWH with pre-antiretroviral therapy (ART) CD4+ counts 350 cells/μl or less undergoing systematic TB screening from two HIV clinics in Uganda. For this analysis, we excluded patients with culture-confirmed TB and patients without aspartate transaminase (AST) or alanine transaminase (ALT) levels measured within three months of enrollment. We compared the proportion of patients with any transaminitis (AST or ALT greater than one times the upper limit of normal ULN) and severe transaminitis (AST or ALT >3 times ULN) for patients screening negative for TB by symptoms and for those screening negative by C-reactive protein (CRP). We also assessed the proportion of patients with transaminitis by self-reported alcohol consumption.
Among 313 participants [158 (50%) women, median age 34 years (IQR 27–40)], 75 (24%) had any transaminitis and six (2%) had severe transaminitis. Of 32 of 313 (10%) who screened negative for TB by symptoms, none had severe transaminitis. In contrast, six-times more PWH screened negative for TB by CRP (194 of 313, 62%), of whom only four (2.1%) had severe transaminitis. Differences in the proportion with any and severe transaminitis according to alcohol consumption were not statistically significant.
Prevalence of severe transaminitis was low among PWH without culture-confirmed TB in this setting, and is therefore, unlikely to be a major barrier to scaling-up TPT.