University of Sheffield launches largest ever population study on the impact of TB and HIV interventions

The University of Sheffield has today (Friday 23 March) launched the largest ever population study on the impact of TB and HIV interventions in sub-Saharan African communities.

TBThe £12.9 million project has been launched to measure the impact of combination TB and HIV intervention when delivered to the population of 14 urban, high prevalence communities in South Africa and Zambia.

Pete Dodd from the Health Economics and Decision Science Department at the University of Sheffield, and part of the consortium researching the impact of TB and HIV interventions in sub-Saharan African Communities, said: “Globally, one person is dying every 20 seconds or so from TB, which is a curable disease.

“Timely access to diagnosis and appropriate care are huge issues, and in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is still a major driver of the TB epidemic. This is a tremendously exciting opportunity to find out at scale whether an aggressive combination of going out and looking for TB cases, and really ramping up HIV prevention and treatment measures can bend the curve of the TB epidemic in some of the worst affected parts of the world.”

TB and HIV are the leading infectious causes of death worldwide – in 2016 1.7 million people died of TB. For people living with HIV, TB is the most significant co-infection, 40 per cent of HIV deaths in 2016 were due to TB. The Tuberculosis Reduction through Expanded Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Screening (TREATS) project was developed in response to this.

Dr Helen Ayles, TREATS Project Director and Professor of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Research Director at Zambart said: “TREATS is a unique opportunity to assess a combined TB and HIV intervention on a massive scale. It will provide amazing data and hopefully some practical solutions to end TB. TB is a curable illness, but in order to better reach people with treatment, we need to understand the epidemiology of the disease better. This is true active case-finding.”

TREATS aims to inform new policies and approaches for tackling the TB and HIV epidemic. As the global health community works towards ambitious new goals to end TB, TREATS will provide invaluable new information for accelerating effective interventions.

TREATS is being conducted by a consortium of organisations, who are already running the largest ever trial of a combination HIV prevention strategy, known as HPTN 071 (PopART). This trial is being conducted across 21 communities in Zambia and South Africa, covering around one million people in total. PopART involves universal testing and treatment for HIV through house-to-house visits on an annual basis over four years – from 2014 to 2018. As part of PopART, all community members are also screened for TB.

Building on PopART, TREATS will measure the impact of this combined TB and HIV intervention on tuberculosis – measuring prevalence of disease as well as incidence of infection. The project runs until 2021, and includes: a social science component to better understand stigma related to TB; mathematical and economic modelling to provide answers for how future large-scale interventions can be undertaken effectively; use of the newest tools available for diagnosing TB infection and operating effectively on a large scale.

TREATS consortium members include: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, Zambart, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, the University of Sheffield, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Health Systems Trust, Delft Imaging Systems and QIAGEN.

The EUR 12.9 million project is part of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, (EDCTP2 programme) supported by the European Union.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

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For further information please contact:

Harry Clulow
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University of Sheffield
0114 222 1047