Tuberculosis screening in high human immunodeficiency virus prevalence settings: turning promise into reality

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2013 Sep;17(9):1125-38. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.13.0117.


Twenty years of sky-high tuberculosis (TB) incidence rates and high TB mortality in high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence countries have so far not been matched by the same magnitude or breadth of responses as seen in malaria or HIV programmes. Instead, recommendations have been narrowly focused on people presenting to health facilities for investigation of TB symptoms, or for HIV testing and care. However, despite the recent major investment and scale-up of TB and HIV services, undiagnosed TB remains highly prevalent at community level, implying that diagnosis of TB remains slow and incomplete. This maintains high transmission rates and exposes people living with HIV to high rates of morbidity and mortality. More intensive use of TB screening, with broader definitions of target populations, expanded indications for screening both inside and outside of health facilities, and appropriate selection of new diagnostic tools, offers the prospect of rapidly improving population-level control of TB. Diagnostic accuracy of suitable (high throughput) algorithms remains the major barrier to realising this goal. In the present study, we review the evidence available to guide expanded TB screening in HIV-prevalent settings, ideally through combined TB-HIV interventions that provide screening for both TB and HIV, and maximise entry to HIV and TB care and prevention. Ideally, we would systematically test, treat and prevent TB and HIV comprehensively, offering both TB and HIV screening to all health facility attendees, TB households and all adults in the highest risk communities. However, we are still held back by inadequate diagnostics, financing and paucity of population-impact data. Relevant contemporary research showing the high need for potential gains, and pitfalls from expanded and intensified TB screening in high HIV prevalence settings are discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Coinfection*
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / economics
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / mortality
  • Health Care Costs
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Patient Selection
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / economics
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / mortality
  • Tuberculosis / transmission


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antitubercular Agents