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Monitoring linked epidemics: the case of tuberculosis and HIV.

Abstract

The tight epidemiological coupling between HIV and its associated opportunistic infections leads to challenges and opportunities for disease surveillance.

We frame our suggestions for integrating and analyzing co-epidemic data within the context of global disease monitoring. Used routinely, joint disease indicators such as R(TB/HIV) could greatly enhance the monitoring and evaluation of public health programs.

We review efforts of WHO and collaborating agencies to track and fight the TB/HIV co-epidemic, and discuss modeling--via mathematical, statistical, and computational approaches--as a means to identify disease indicators designed to integrate data from linked diseases in order to characterize how co-epidemics change in time and space. We present R(TB/HIV), an index comparing changes in TB incidence relative to HIV prevalence, and use it to identify those sub-Saharan African countries with outlier TB/HIV dynamics. R(TB/HIV) can also be used to predict epidemiological trends, investigate the coherency of reported trends, and cross-check the anticipated impact of public health interventions. Identifying the cause(s) responsible for anomalous R(TB/HIV) values can reveal information crucial to the management of public health.

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