Tuberculosis is a major health concern in several countries, and effective diagnostic algorithms for use in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–positive patients are urgently needed.
At prescription of antiretroviral therapy, all patients in 3 Mozambican health centers were screened for tuberculosis, with a combined approach: World Health Organization (WHO) 4-symptom screening (fever, cough, night sweats, and weight loss), a rapid test detecting mycobacterial lipoarabinomannan in urine (Determine TB LAM), and a molecular assay performed on a sputum sample (Xpert MTB/RIF; repeated if first result was negative). Patients with positive LAM or Xpert MTB/RIF results were referred for tuberculosis treatment.
Among 972 patients with a complete diagnostic algorithm (58.5% female; median CD4 cell count, 278/μL; WHO HIV stage I, 66.8%), 98 (10.1%) tested positive with Xpert (90, 9.3%) or LAM (34, 3.5%) assays. Compared with a single-test Xpert strategy, dual Xpert tests improved case finding by 21.6%, LAM testing alone improved it by 13.5%, and dual Xpert tests plus LAM testing improved it by 32.4%. Rifampicin resistance in Xpert-positive patients was infrequent (2.5%). Among patients with positive results, 22 of 98 (22.4%) had no symptoms at WHO 4-symptom screening. Patients with tuberculosis diagnosed had significantly lower CD4 cell counts and hemoglobin levels, more advanced WHO stage, and higher HIV RNA levels. Fifteen (15.3%) did not start tuberculosis treatment, mostly owing to rapidly deteriorating clinical conditions or logistical constraints. The median interval between start of the diagnostic algorithm and start of tuberculosis treatment was 7 days.
The prevalence of tuberculosis among Mozambican HIV-positive patients starting antiretroviral therapy was 10%, with limited rifampicin resistance. Use of combined point-of-care tests increased case finding, with a short time to treatment. Interventions are needed to remove logistical barriers and prevent presentation in very advanced HIV/tuberculosis disease.