Tuberculosis case finding in HIV-infected pregnant women in Kenya reveals poor performance of symptom screening and rapid diagnostic tests.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999), Volume 71, Issue 2, p.219-227 (2016)


Background: Tuberculosis (TB) during pregnancy in HIV-infected women is associated with poor maternal and infant outcomes. There are limited data on TB prevalence, optimal TB screening, and performance of rapid diagnostics in pregnant HIV-infected women.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among HIV-infected pregnant women seeking antenatal care in western Kenya. After a standardized questionnaire, sputum smear microscopy for acid-fast bacilli, mycobacterial liquid culture, GeneXpert MTB/RIF (Xpert), urine lipoarabinomannan, and tuberculin skin testing were performed. We determined prevalence and correlates of culture-confirmed pulmonary TB, and compared diagnostic performance of World Health Organization (WHO) symptom screening and rapid diagnostic tests to sputum culture.

Results: Between July 2013 and July 2014, we enrolled 306 women. Among 288 women with a valid sputum culture result, 54% were on antiretroviral treatment, median CD4 cell count was 437 cell per cubic millimeter (IQR 342–565), and prevalence of culture-confirmed pulmonary TB was 2.4% (confidence interval: 1.0% to 4.9%). Cough >2 weeks (P = 0.04) and positive tuberculin skin testing (≥5 mm, P = 0.03) were associated with pulmonary TB. Women with TB were 23-fold (95% confidence interval: 4.4 to 116.6) more likely to report a household member with TB symptoms (P = 0.002). WHO symptom screen (43%), acid-fast bacilli smear (0%), Xpert (43%), and lipoarabinomannan (0%) had low sensitivity but high specificity (81%, 99%, 99%, and 95%, respectively) for pulmonary TB.

Conclusions: HIV-infected pregnant women had appreciable prevalence of pulmonary TB despite modest immunosuppression. Current TB screening and diagnostic tools perform poorly in pregnant HIV-infected women. Adapted TB screening tools that include household member TB symptoms may be useful in this population.