Background: In settings of high tuberculosis transmission, little is known of the interaction between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive and HIV-negative tuberculosis disease and of the impact of antiretroviral treatment (ART) programs on tuberculosis transmission dynamics.
Methods: Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates were collected from patients with tuberculosis who resided in a South African township with a high burden of tuberculosis and HIV infection. Demographic and clinical data were extracted from clinic records. Isolates underwent IS6110-based restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. Patients with unique (nonclustered) M. tuberculosis genotypes and cluster index cases (ie, the first tuberculosis case in a cluster) were defined as having tuberculosis due to reactivation of latent M. tuberculosis infection. Secondary cases in clusters were defined as having tuberculosis due to recent M. tuberculosis infection.
Results: Overall, 311 M. tuberculosis genotypes were identified among 718 isolates from 710 patients; 224 (31%) isolates were unique strains, and 478 (67%) occurred in 87 clusters. Cluster index cases were significantly more likely than other tuberculosis cases to be HIV negative. HIV-positive patients were more likely to be secondary cases (P = .001), including patients receiving ART (P = .004). Only 8% of cases of adult-adult transmission of tuberculosis occurred on shared residential plots.
Conclusions: Recent infection accounted for the majority of tuberculosis cases, particularly among HIV-positive patients, including patients receiving ART. HIV-negative patients may be disproportionally responsible for ongoing transmission.
Keywords: HIV; genotyping; molecular epidemiology; transmission; tuberculosis.
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