by Saskia Ricks, Claudia M. Denkinger, Samuel G. Schumacher, Timothy B. Hallett, Nimalan Arinaminpathy
Lateral flow urine lipoarabinomannan (LAM) tests could offer important new opportunities for the early detection of tuberculosis (TB). The currently licensed LAM test, Alere Determine TB LAM Ag (‘LF-LAM’), performs best in the sickest people living with HIV (PLHIV). However, the technology continues to improve, with newer LAM tests, such as Fujifilm SILVAMP TB LAM (‘SILVAMP-LAM’) showing improved sensitivity, including amongst HIV-negative patients. It is important to anticipate the epidemiological impact that current and future LAM tests may have on TB incidence and mortality.
Methods and findings
Concentrating on South Africa, we examined the impact that widening LAM test eligibility would have on TB incidence and mortality. We developed a mathematical model of TB transmission to project the impact of LAM tests, distinguishing ‘current’ tests (with sensitivity consistent with LF-LAM), from hypothetical ‘future’ tests (having sensitivity consistent with SILVAMP-LAM). We modelled the impact of both tests, assuming full adoption of the 2019 WHO guidelines for the use of these tests amongst those receiving HIV care. We also simulated the hypothetical deployment of future LAM tests for all people presenting to care with TB symptoms, not restricted to PLHIV. Our model projects that 2,700,000 (95% credible interval [CrI] 2,000,000–3,600,000) and 420,000 (95% CrI 350,000–520,000) cumulative TB incident cases and deaths, respectively, would occur between 2020 and 2035 if the status quo is maintained. Relative to this comparator, current and future LAM tests would respectively avert 54 (95% CrI 33–86) and 90 (95% CrI 55–145) TB deaths amongst inpatients between 2020 and 2035, i.e., reductions of 5% (95% CrI 4%–6%) and 9% (95% CrI 7%–11%) in inpatient TB mortality. This impact in absolute deaths averted doubles if testing is expanded to include outpatients, yet remains Conclusions
These results suggest that LAM tests could have an important effect in averting TB deaths amongst PLHIV with advanced disease. However, achieving population-level impact on the TB epidemic, even in high-HIV-burden settings, will require future LAM tests to have sufficient performance to be deployed more broadly than in HIV care.