Community-wide isoniazid preventive therapy drives drug-resistant tuberculosis: a model-based analysis.


Tuberculosis (TB) control is especially difficult in settings of high HIV prevalence; HIV co-infection erodes host immunity and increases risk of progression to active TB. Studies have demonstrated that a 6-month (or longer) course of monotherapy with isoniazid [isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT)] can reduce this risk. The World Health Organization endorses IPT for symptom-free individuals with HIV/TB co-infection and has recommended expanding IPT to entire communities (community-wide IPT). Although previous reviews have not found a statistically significant elevated risk of isoniazid-resistant TB among individuals previously treated with IPT, community-wide IPT programs may nonetheless generate substantial selective pressure and increase the burden of drug-resistant TB (DRTB). We developed mathematical models to identify the conditions under which community-wide IPT interventions could increase the burden of isoniazid-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, even when we assumed that IPT does not select for resistance among those treated with IPT. We found that in models that included any mechanism of interstrain competition (such as partial immunity conferred by a previous M. tuberculosis infection), community-wide IPT interventions conferred an indirect benefit to drug-resistant strains through selective suppression of drug-sensitive infections. This result suggests that the absence of an observed elevation in the risk of DRTB among those receiving IPT in small-scale studies of limited duration does not imply that the selective pressure imposed by community-wide IPT will not be substantial. Community-wide IPT may play an important role in TB control in these settings, and its rollout should be accompanied by interventions to detect and treat drug-resistant disease.

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