HIV-prevalence in tuberculosis patients in Germany, 2002-2009: an estimation based on HIV and tuberculosis surveillance data

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49111. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049111. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV comorbidity is a major challenge in TB prevention and control but difficult to assess in Germany as in other countries, where data confidentiality precludes notifying the HIV status of TB patients. We aimed to estimate the HIV-prevalence in TB patients in Germany, 2002-2009, and to characterize the HIV/TB patients demographically. Data from the long-term observational open multicentre cohort ClinSurv HIV were used to identify incident TB in HIV-positive individuals. We assessed the cohort's coverage for the nationwide HIV-positive population by contrasting ClinSurv HIV patients under antiretroviral therapy (ART) with national HIV patient numbers derived from ART prescriptions (data by Insight Health; available for 2006-2009). The HIV-prevalence in TB patients was calculated as the number of HIV/TB cases projected for Germany over all culture-positive TB notifications. From 2002 to 2009, 298 of 15,531 HIV-positive patients enrolled in the ClinSurv HIV cohort were diagnosed with TB. A 21% cohort coverage was determined. The annual estimates of the HIV-prevalence in TB patients were on average 4.5% and ranged from 3.5% (95%CI 2.3-5.1%) in 2007 to 6.6% (95%CI 5.0-8.5%) in 2005. The most recent estimate for 2009 was 4.0% (95%CI 2.6-5.9%). The 298 HIV/TB patients were characterized by a male-to-female ratio of 2.1, by a median age of 38 years at TB diagnosis, and by 59% of the patients having a foreign origin, mainly from Subsahara Africa. We provide, to our knowledge, the first estimate of the HIV-prevalence in TB patients for Germany by joint evaluation of anonymous HIV and TB surveillance data sources. The identified level of HIV in TB patients approximates available surveillance data from neighbouring countries and indicates a non-negligible HIV/TB burden in Germany. Our estimation approach is valuable for epidemiological monitoring of HIV/TB within the current legal frameworks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV Seropositivity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Tuberculosis / complications*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / virology


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antitubercular Agents

Grant support

The German Federal Ministry of Health is acknowledged for funding this study (grant number: IIA5-2011-2511AUK385). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.