Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



PLoS One


Volume 7, Issue 11

Inclusive Pages

Article number e-49928


HIV Infections--epidemiology; Tuberculin Test; Tuberculosis--diagnosis; Tuberculosis--epidemiology



People living with HIV (PLWH) who have positive tuberculin skin tests (TST) benefit from isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) whereas those testing TST-negative do not. Revised World Health Organization guidelines explicitly state that assessment of TST is not a requirement for initiation of IPT. However, it is not known what proportions of patients will benefit from IPT if implemented without targeting according to TST status. We therefore determined the proportions of PLWH who test TST-positive.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We systematically reviewed the literature published between January 1990 and February 2012 to determine the proportions of patients without active tuberculosis attending HIV care services in low and middle-income countries who tested TST-positive (≥5 mm induration). Proportions were also determined for different CD4 count strata. Data from 19 studies with 9,478 PLWH from sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Central and South America were summarized. The vast majority were not receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). A sub-analysis was conducted of 5 studies (5,567 subjects) from high TB prevalence countries of PLWH with negative TB screens attending HIV care and treatment settings for whom CD4 stratified data were available. The median proportion of PLWH testing TST-positive overall was 22.8% (range, 19.5–32.6%). The median (range) proportions with CD4 cell counts of


In most settings, if IPT is administered to PLWH pre-ART without assessment of TST status, only a minority of those treated are likely to benefit, especially among those with the lowest CD4 cell counts. This may be inefficient use of resources and cost-effectiveness analyses should take this into account. Local knowledge of TST response rates may help inform policies. New simple means of identifying those who will benefit from IPT are needed to permit appropriate targeting of this intervention.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access