Mycobacterium tuberculosis bloodstream infection prevalence, diagnosis, and mortality risk in seriously ill adults with HIV: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data

David A Barr PhD acf†,Joseph M Lewis MRCP fg†, Prof Nicholas Feasey PhD fg, Charlotte Schutz MBCh Bbce, Andrew D Kerkhoff MDh, Shevin T Jacob MD f, Ben Andrews MDi Prof Paul Kelly MDj Shabir Lakhi MDk Levy, Muchemwa M Medk, lHelio A Bacha PhD m, David J Hadad PhD n, Richard Bedell M Dop Moniquevan Lettow PhD oq Rony Zachariah PhD r, Prof John A Crump MDstu, Prof David Allan dMDv, Prof Elizabeth L Corbett FMed Scigw…, Prof Graeme Meintjes PhD bce
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The clinical and epidemiological significance of HIV-associated Mycobacterium tuberculosis bloodstream infection (BSI) is incompletely understood. We hypothesised that M tuberculosis BSI prevalence has been underestimated, that it independently predicts death, and that sputum Xpert MTB/RIF has suboptimal diagnostic yield for M tuberculosis BSI.


We did a systematic review and individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis of studies performing routine mycobacterial blood culture in a prospectively defined patient population of people with HIV aged 13 years or older. Studies were identified through searching PubMed and Scopus up to Nov 10, 2018, without language or date restrictions and through manual review of reference lists. Risk of bias in the included studies was assessed with an adapted QUADAS-2 framework. IPD were requested for all identified studies and subject to harmonised inclusion criteria: age 13 years or older, HIV positivity, available CD4 cell count, a valid mycobacterial blood culture result (excluding patients with missing data from lost or contaminated blood cultures), and meeting WHO definitions for suspected tuberculosis (presence of screening symptom). Predicted probabilities of M tuberculosis BSI from mixed-effects modelling were used to estimate prevalence. Estimates of diagnostic yield of sputum testing with Xpert (or culture if Xpert was unavailable) and of urine lipoarabinomannan (LAM) testing for M tuberculosis BSI were obtained by two-level random-effect meta-analysis. Estimates of mortality associated with M tuberculosis BSI were obtained by mixed-effect Cox proportional-hazard modelling and of effect of treatment delay on mortality by propensity-score analysis. This study is registered with PROSPERO, number 42016050022.


We identified 23 datasets for inclusion (20 published and three unpublished at time of search) and obtained IPD from 20, representing 96·2% of eligible IPD. Risk of bias for the included studies was assessed to be generally low except for on the patient selection domain, which was moderate in most studies. 5751 patients met harmonised IPD-level inclusion criteria. Technical factors such as number of blood cultures done, timing of blood cultures relative to blood sampling, and patient factors such as inpatient setting and CD4 cell count, explained significant heterogeneity between primary studies. The predicted probability of M tuberculosis BSI in hospital inpatients with HIV-associated tuberculosis, WHO danger signs, and a CD4 count of 76 cells per μL (the median for the cohort) was 45% (95% CI 38–52). The diagnostic yield of sputum in patients with M tuberculosis BSI was 77% (95% CI 63–87), increasing to 89% (80–94) when combined with urine LAM testing. Presence of M tuberculosis BSI compared with its absence in patients with HIV-associated tuberculosis increased risk of death before 30 days (adjusted hazard ratio 2·48, 95% CI 2·05–3·08) but not after 30 days (1·25, 0·84–2·49). In a propensity-score matched cohort of participants with HIV-associated tuberculosis (n=630), mortality increased in patients with M tuberculosis BSI who had a delay in anti-tuberculosis treatment of longer than 4 days compared with those who had no delay (odds ratio 3·15, 95% CI 1·16–8·84).