Our results show that TB transmission in HCMC has been declining among people without HIV; we estimate a 18% (95% CI: 9-25%) decline in the transmission parameter between 1996 and 2015. Furthermore, we show that co-infected patients have limited contribution to the transmission process. For hyper-susceptible individuals, our model suggests that the risk of a new active TB infection occurring is significantly higher than the risk of relapsed active TB, while this is not the case for people without hyper-susceptibility.
The increase of TB notifications in Ho Chi Minh City from 1996 to 2008 is evitable when, as occurred, the number of hyper-susceptible individuals increased faster than the decrease of TB transmission rate. The sharp decrease in TB notifications observed in this city from 2008 to 2015 is the combined result of the decrease of TB transmission rate and the decrease of hyper-susceptible individuals in the population. For hyper-susceptible individuals, we propose that the reason for the reduced relapsed active TB risk is HIV treatment delay. According to HIV treatment guidelines issued by Vietnam's Ministry of Health, hyper-susceptible individuals usually have to wait until their CD4 cell count falls under 350 cells/μl to start ART. Once patients begin ART, they will remain on ART for the rest of their life and thus have greater protection against relapses of TB. We therefore hypothesize that the delay in using ART imposes considerable TB burden on HCMC despite the declining transmission process.
The depletion of CD4 cell is the underlying reason for TB hyper-susceptibility among people with HIV. Consequently, the trend of TB dynamics is usually hidden by the HIV outbreak.
Here, we aim to evaluate the trend of TB dynamics quantitatively by a simple mathematical model using the known prevalence of hyper-susceptible individuals in the population. In order to estimate the parameters governing transmission we fit this model in a maximum likelihood framework to both reported TB cases and data from samples tested with Interferon Gamma Assay from Ho Chi Minh City - a city with high TB transmission and strong synchronization between HIV/AIDS and TB dynamics.