Trend analysis of tuberculosis case notifications with scale-up of antiretroviral therapy and roll-out of isoniazid preventive therapy in Zimbabwe, 2000-2018

BMJ Open. 2020 Apr 6;10(4):e034721. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034721.


Objectives: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) and isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) are known to have a tuberculosis (TB) protective effect at the individual level among people living with HIV (PLHIV). In Zimbabwe where TB is driven by HIV infection, we have assessed whether there is a population-level association between IPT and ART scale-up and annual TB case notification rates (CNRs) from 2000 to 2018.

Design: Ecological study using aggregate national data.

Setting: Annual aggregate national data on TB case notification rates (stratified by TB category and type of disease), numbers (and proportions) of PLHIV in ART care and of these, numbers (and proportions) ever commenced on IPT.

Results: ART coverage in the public sector increased from <1% (8400 PLHIV) in 2004 to ~88% (>1.1 million PLHIV patients) by December 2018, while IPT coverage among PLHIV in ART care increased from <1% (98 PLHIV) in 2012 to ~33% (373 917 PLHIV) by December 2018. These HIV-related interventions were associated with significant declines in TB CNRs: between the highest CNR prior to national roll-out of ART (in 2004) to the lowest recorded CNR after national IPT roll-out from 2012, these were (1) for all TB case (510 to 173 cases/100 000 population; 66% decline, p<0.001); (2) for those with new TB (501 to 159 cases/100 000 population; 68% decline, p<0.001) and (3) for those with new clinically diagnosed PTB (284 to 63 cases/100 000 population; 77.8% decline, p<0.001).

Conclusions: This study shows the population-level impact of the continued scale-up of ART among PLHIV and the national roll-out of IPT among those in ART care in reducing TB, particularly clinically diagnosed TB which is largely associated with HIV. There are further opportunities for continued mitigation of TB with increasing coverage of ART and in particular IPT which still has a low coverage.

Keywords: HIV & AIDS; public health; tuberculosis.