Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of infectious disease deaths worldwide and is the leading cause of death among people with HIV. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for collaboration between public and private healthcare providers to maximize integration of TB/HIV services and minimize costs. We systematically reviewed published models of public-private sector diagnostic and referral services for TB/HIV co-infected patients.
Methods: We searched PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Google Scholar, Science Direct, CINAHL and Web of Science. We included studies that discussed programs that linked private and public providers for TB/HIV concurrent diagnostic and referral services and used Review Manager (Version 5.3, 2015) for meta-analysis.
Results: We found 1,218 unduplicated potentially relevant articles and abstracts; three met our eligibility criteria. All three described public-private TB/HIV diagnostic/referral services with varying degrees of integration. In Kenya private practitioners were able to test for both TB and HIV and offer state-subsidized TB medication, but they could not provide state-subsidized antiretroviral therapy (ART) to co-infected patients. In India private practitioners not contractually engaged with the public sector offered TB/HIV services inconsistently and on a subjective basis. Those partnered with the state, however, could test for both TB and HIV and offer state-subsidized medications. In Nigeria some private providers had access to both state-subsidized medications and diagnostic tests; others required patients to pay out-of-pocket for testing and/or treatment. In a meta-analysis of the two quantitative reports, TB patients who sought care in the public sector were almost twice as likely to have been tested for HIV than TB patients who sought care in the private sector (risk ratio [RR] 1.98, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.88-2.08). However, HIV-infected TB patients who sought care in the public sector were marginally less likely to initiate ART than TB patients who sought care from private providers (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.78-1.03).
Conclusion: These three studies are examples of public-private TB/HIV service delivery and can potentially serve as models for integrated TB/HIV care systems. Successful public-private diagnostic and treatment services can both improve outcomes and decrease costs for patients co-infected with HIV and TB.