Tuberculosis case fatality rates in high HIV prevalence populations in sub-Saharan Africa

AIDS. 2001 Jan 26;15(2):143-52. doi: 10.1097/00002030-200101260-00002.


Background: Tuberculosis is a leading cause worldwide of morbidity and mortality among HIV-infected people. The HIV era has seen a dramatic increase of the tuberculosis case fatality rate (CFR) in high HIV prevalence populations. Providing care for HIV-infected people must include measures to tackle this high tuberculosis CFR.

Aims: To analyse the extent of the increased tuberculosis CFR in high HIV prevalence populations in sub-Saharan Africa, the reasons for this increase and the causes of death, in order to identify possible ways of tackling this problem.

Methods: References were obtained by searching the MEDLINE on 'tuberculosis', 'HIV infection', and 'mortality' (MesH or textword). In addition, available data from National Tuberculosis Programme reports were reviewed.

Findings: Tuberculosis CFR is closely linked to HIV prevalence. Limited autopsy data suggest that death from HIV-related diseases other than tuberculosis is probably the main reason for the increased CFR in HIV-infected tuberculosis patients. Among HIV-infected tuberculosis patients, the higher tuberculosis CFR in sputum smear-negative and extrapulmonary than in sputum smear-positive tuberculosis cases can also be attributed to misdiagnosis of HIV-related diseases as tuberculosis. The adverse effect of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on general health service performance probably accounts for the higher tuberculosis CFR among HIV-negative tuberculosis patients in high prevalence populations than that in low HIV-prevalence populations.

Conclusion: Tackling the problem of the increased tuberculosis CFR in high HIV prevalence populations requires collaboration between tuberculosis control and HIV/AIDS programmes in implementing measures such as improved health services, tuberculosis and HIV control services, preventive treatment for HIV-related diseases and anti-HIV treatment.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / mortality*
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / mortality*