Electronic Dose Monitoring Identifies a High-Risk Subpopulation in the Treatment of Drug-resistant Tuberculosis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Oct 5;73(7):e1901-e1910. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1557.


Background: In generalized drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemics, identifying subpopulations at high risk for treatment failure and loss to care is critically important to improve treatment outcomes and prevent amplification of drug resistance. We hypothesized that an electronic dose-monitoring (EDM) device could empirically identify adherence-challenged patients and that a mixed-methods approach would characterize treatment challenges.

Methods: A prospective study of patients with DR-TB HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiating bedaquiline-containing regimens in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Separate EDM devices measured adherence for bedaquiline and ART. Patients with low adherence (<85%) to both bedaquiline and ART were identified as high risk for poor outcomes. Baseline survey, study visit notes, and focus group discussions characterized treatment challenges.

Results: From December 2016-February 2018, 32 of 198 (16%) enrolled patients with DR-TB HIV were identified as dual-adherence challenged. In a multivariate model including baseline characteristics, only receiving a disability grant was significantly associated with dual nonadherence at 6 months. Mixed-methods identified treatment barriers including alcohol abuse, family conflicts, and mental health issues. Compared with adherent patients, dual-adherence-challenged patients struggled to prioritize treatment and lacked support, and dual-adherence-challenged patients experienced higher rates of detectable HIV viral load and mortality than more adherent patients.

Conclusions: EDM empirically identified a subpopulation of patients with DR-TB HIV with dual-adherence challenges early in treatment. Mixed-methods revealed intense psychosocial, behavioral, and structural barriers to care in this subpopulation. Our data support developing differential, patient-centered, adherence support interventions focused on psychosocial and structural challenges for subpopulations of at-risk DR-TB HIV patients.

Keywords: South Africa; adherence; drug-resistant TB/HIV; mixed-methods; person-centered care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Electronics
  • HIV
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant* / drug therapy


  • Antitubercular Agents