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Antiretroviral Treatment as Prevention: Impact of the ‘Test and Treat’ Strategy on the Tuberculosis Epidemic

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Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been remarkably effective in ameliorating Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-associated morbidity and mortality. The rapid decline in viral load during ART also presents an opportunity to develop a “treatment as prevention” strategy in order to reduce HIV transmission at a population level. Modelling exercises have demonstrated that for this strategy to be effective, early initiation of ART with high coverage of the HIVinfected population will be required. The HIV epidemic has fueled a resurgence of tuberculosis (TB) particularly in sub- Saharan Africa and widespread early initiation of ART could also impact this epidemic via several mechanisms. The proportion of patients with low CD4 cell counts who are at high risk of TB disease from progression of both latent and new TB infection would be greatly reduced. Entry into a life-long ART program provides an ongoing opportunity for intensified TB case finding among the HIV-infected population. Regular screening for HIV infection also presents an opportunity for intensified TB case finding in the general population. The combined effect of reduced progression of infection to disease and intensified case finding could reduce the overall prevalence of infectious TB, thereby further decreasing TB transmission. In addition, decreasing prevalence of HIV infection would reduce the TB-susceptible pool within the population. The ‘test and treat’ strategy therefore has potential to reduce the TB risk at both an individual and a population level. In this paper we explore the expected “TB dividend” of wider access to ART and also explore the potential of the “test and treat” strategy to impact on TB transmission, particularly in the heavily burdened setting of sub- Saharan Africa.

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Keywords: CONTROL INTERVENTIONS; Communicable disease control; EPIDEMIOLOGY; HAART; HIV prevention; TB outbreaks; Transmission Risk; highly active antiretroviral therapy; tuberculosis prevention

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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  • Current HIV Research aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments of HIV research. We invite comprehensive review articles and novel, pioneering work in the basic and clinical fields on all areas of HIV research, including virus replication and gene expression, HIV assembly, virus-cell interaction, viral pathogenesis, epidemiology and transmission, anti-retroviral therapy and adherence, drug discovery, the latest developments in HIV/AIDS vaccines and animal models, mechanisms and interactions with AIDS related diseases, social and public health issues related to HIV disease, and prevention of viral infection. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews and original research written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on HIV research. Periodically, the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a particular area of HIV research of great interest that increases our understanding of the virus and its complex interaction with the host.
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