Identifying dynamic tuberculosis case-finding policies for HIV/TB coepidemics.


The global tuberculosis (TB) control plan has historically emphasized passive case finding (PCF) as the most practical approach for identifying TB suspects in high burden settings. The success of this approach in controlling TB depends on infectious individuals recognizing their symptoms and voluntarily seeking diagnosis rapidly enough to reduce onward transmission. It now appears, at least in some settings, that more intensified case-finding (ICF) approaches may be needed to control TB transmission; these more aggressive approaches for detecting as-yet undiagnosed cases obviously require additional resources to implement. Given that TB control programs are resource constrained and that the incremental yield of ICF is expected to wane over time as the pool of undiagnosed cases is depleted, a tool that can help policymakers to identify when to implement or suspend an ICF intervention would be valuable. In this article, we propose dynamic case-finding policies that allow policymakers to use existing observations about the epidemic and resource availability to determine when to switch between PCF and ICF to efficiently use resources to optimize population health. Using mathematical models of TB/HIV coepidemics, we show that dynamic policies strictly dominate static policies that prespecify a frequency and duration of rounds of ICF. We also find that the use of a diagnostic tool with better sensitivity for detecting smear-negative cases (e.g., Xpert MTB/RIF) further improves the incremental benefit of these dynamic case-finding policies.

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