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1.  Tuberculosis among Health-Care Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e494.
The risk of transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from patients to health-care workers (HCWs) is a neglected problem in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most health-care facilities in these countries lack resources to prevent nosocomial transmission of tuberculosis (TB).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review to summarize the evidence on the incidence and prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) and disease among HCWs in LMICs, and to evaluate the impact of various preventive strategies that have been attempted. To identify relevant studies, we searched electronic databases and journals, and contacted experts in the field. We identified 42 articles, consisting of 51 studies, and extracted data on incidence, prevalence, and risk factors for LTBI and disease among HCWs. The prevalence of LTBI among HCWs was, on average, 54% (range 33% to 79%). Estimates of the annual risk of LTBI ranged from 0.5% to 14.3%, and the annual incidence of TB disease in HCWs ranged from 69 to 5,780 per 100,000. The attributable risk for TB disease in HCWs, compared to the risk in the general population, ranged from 25 to 5,361 per 100,000 per year. A higher risk of acquiring TB disease was associated with certain work locations (inpatient TB facility, laboratory, internal medicine, and emergency facilities) and occupational categories (radiology technicians, patient attendants, nurses, ward attendants, paramedics, and clinical officers).
In summary, our review demonstrates that TB is a significant occupational problem among HCWs in LMICs. Available evidence reinforces the need to design and implement simple, effective, and affordable TB infection-control programs in health-care facilities in these countries.
A systematic review demonstrates that tuberculosis is an important occupational problem among health care workers in low and middle-income countries.
Editors' Summary
One third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). In many people, the bug causes no health problems—it remains latent. But about 10% of infected people develop active, potentially fatal TB, often in their lungs. People with active pulmonary TB readily spread the infection to other people, including health-care workers (HCWs), in small airborne droplets produced when they cough or sneeze. In high-income countries such as the US, guidelines are in place to minimize the transmission of TB in health-care facilities. Administrative controls (for example, standard treatment plans for people with suspected or confirmed TB) aim to reduce the exposure of HCWs to people with TB. Environmental controls (for example, the use of special isolation rooms) aim to prevent the spread and to reduce the concentration of infectious droplets in the air. Finally, respiratory-protection controls (for example, personal respirators for nursing staff) aim to reduce the risk of infection when exposure to M. tuberculosis is unavoidably high. Together, these three layers of control have reduced the incidence of TB in HCWs (the number who catch TB annually) in high-income countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
But what about low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of the world's cases of TB occur? Here, there is little money available to implement even low-cost strategies to reduce TB transmission in health-care facilities—so how important an occupational disease is TB in HCWs in these countries? In this study, the researchers have systematically reviewed published papers to find out the incidence and prevalence (how many people in a population have a specific disease) of active TB and latent TB infections (LTBIs) in HCWs in LMICs. They have also investigated whether any of the preventative strategies used in high-income countries have been shown to reduce the TB burden in HCWs in poorer countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To identify studies on TB transmission to HCWs in LMICs, the researchers searched electronic databases and journals, and also contacted experts on TB transmission. They then extracted and analyzed the relevant data on TB incidence, prevalence, risk factors, and control measures. Averaged-out over the 51 identified studies, 54% of HCWs had LTBI. In most of the studies, increasing age and duration of employment in health-care facilities, indicating a longer cumulative exposure to infection, was associated with a higher prevalence of LTBI. The same trend was seen in a subgroup of medical and nursing students. After accounting for the incidence of TB in the relevant general population, the excess incidence of TB in the different studies that was attributable to being a HCW ranged from 25 to 5,361 cases per 100, 000 people per year. In addition, a higher risk of acquiring TB was associated with working in specific locations (for example, inpatient TB facilities or diagnostic laboratories) and with specific occupations, including nurses and radiology attendants; most of the health-care facilities examined in the published studies had no specific TB infection-control programs in place.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all systematic reviews, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by some aspects of the original studies, such as how the incidence of LTBI was measured. In addition, the possibility that the researchers missed some relevant published studies, or that only studies where there was a high incidence of TB in HCWs were published, may also affect the findings of this study. Nevertheless, they suggest that TB is an important occupational disease in HCWs in LMICs and that the HCWs most at risk of TB are those exposed to the most patients with TB. Reduction of that risk should be a high priority because occupational TB leads to the loss of essential, skilled HCWs. Unfortunately, there are few data available to indicate how this should be done. Thus, the researchers conclude, well-designed field studies are urgently needed to evaluate whether the TB-control measures that have reduced TB transmission to HCWs in high-income countries will work and be affordable in LMICs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases patient fact sheet on tuberculosis
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for patients and professionals on tuberculosis
• MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on tuberculosis
• NHS Direct Online, from the UK National Health Service, patient information on tuberculosis
• US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, information about tuberculosis for health-care workers
• American Lung Association information on tuberculosis and health-care workers
PMCID: PMC1716189  PMID: 17194191
2.  Prevalence and Incidence of Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Georgian Healthcare Workers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58202.
Tuberculosis is a major occupational hazard in low and middle-income countries. Limited data exist on serial testing of healthcare workers (HCWs) with interferon-γ release assays (IGRAs) for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), especially in low and middle-income countries. We sought to evaluate the rates of and risk factors for LTBI prevalence and LTBI test conversion among HCWs using the tuberculin skin test (TST) and QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-tube assay (QFT-GIT).
A prospective longitudinal study was conducted among HCWs in the country of Georgia. Subjects completed a questionnaire, and TST and QFT-GIT tests were performed. LTBI testing was repeated 6-26 months after baseline testing.
Among 319 HCWs enrolled, 89% reported prior BCG vaccination, and 60% worked in TB healthcare facilities (HCFs). HCWs from TB HCFs had higher prevalence of positive QFT-GIT and TST than those from non-TB HCFs: 107/194 (55%) vs. 30/125 (31%) QFT-GIT positive (p<0.0001) and 128/189 (69%) vs. 64/119 (54%) TST positive (p = 0.01). There was fair agreement between TST and QFT-GIT (kappa = 0.42, 95% CI 0.31–0.52). In multivariate analysis, frequent contact with TB patients was associated with increased risk of positive QFT-GIT (aOR 3.04, 95% CI 1.79–5.14) but not positive TST. Increasing age was associated with increased risk of positive QFT-GIT (aOR 1.05, 95% CI 1.01–1.09) and TST (aOR 1.05, 95% CI 1.01–1.10). High rates of HCW conversion were seen: the QFT-GIT conversion rate was 22.8/100 person-years, and TST conversion rate was 17.1/100 person-years. In multivariate analysis, female HCWs had decreased risk of TST conversion (aOR 0.05, 95% CI 0.01–0.43), and older HCWs had increased risk of QFT-GIT conversion (aOR 1.07 per year, 95% CI 1.01–1.13).
LTBI prevalence and LTBI test conversion rates were high among Georgian HCWs, especially among those working at TB HCFs. These data highlight the need for increased implementation of TB infection control measures.
PMCID: PMC3607575  PMID: 23536789
3.  High Annual Risk of Tuberculosis Infection among Nursing Students in South India: A Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26199.
Nurses in developing countries are frequently exposed to infectious tuberculosis (TB) patients, and have a high prevalence of TB infection. To estimate the incidence of new TB infection, we recruited a cohort of young nursing trainees at the Christian Medical College in Southern India. Annual tuberculin skin testing (TST) was conducted to assess the annual risk of TB infection (ARTI) in this cohort.
Methodology/Principal Findings
436 nursing students completed baseline two-step TST testing in 2007 and 217 were TST-negative and therefore eligible for repeat testing in 2008. 181 subjects completed a detailed questionnaire on exposure to tuberculosis from workplace and social contacts. A physician verified the questionnaire and clinical log book and screened the subjects for symptoms of active TB. The majority of nursing students (96.7%) were females, almost 84% were under 22 years of age, and 80% had BCG scars. Among those students who underwent repeat testing in 2008, 14 had TST conversions using the ATS/CDC/IDSA conversion definition of 10 mm or greater increase over baseline. The ARTI was therefore estimated as 7.8% (95%CI: 4.3–12.8%). This was significantly higher than the national average ARTI of 1.5%. Sputum collection and caring for pulmonary TB patients were both high risk activities that were associated with TST conversions in this young nursing cohort.
Our study showed a high ARTI among young nursing trainees, substantially higher than that seen in the general Indian population. Indian healthcare providers and the Indian Revised National TB Control Programme will need to implement internationally recommended TB infection control interventions to protect its health care workforce.
PMCID: PMC3192164  PMID: 22022565
4.  Post-exposure rate of tuberculosis infection among health care workers measured with tuberculin skin test conversion after unprotected exposure to patients with pulmonary tuberculosis: 6-year experience in an Italian teaching hospital 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:324.
This study assesses the risk of LTBI at our Hospital among HCWs who have been exposed to TB patients with a delayed diagnosis and respiratory protection measures were not implemented.
All HCWs exposed to a patient with cultural confirmed pulmonary TB and respiratory protection measures were not implemented were included. Data on TST results performed in the past (defined as T0) were recorded. TST was performed twice: first, immediately after exposure to an index patient (T1) and three months later (T2). The period of time between T0 and T1 was used to calculate he annual rate of tuberculosis infection (ARTI), while le period of time between T1 and T2 was used to calculate the post exposure annual rate of tuberculosis infection (PEARTI).
Fourteen index patients were admitted; sputum smear was positive in 7 (58.3%), 4 (28.6%) were non-Italian born patients. 388 HCWs were exposed to index patients, a median of 27 (12-39) HCW per each index patient. One hundred eighty (46.4%) HCWs received BCG in the past. One hundred twenty two HCWs (31%) were TST positive at a previous routine screening and not evaluated in this subset. Among the remaining 255 HCWs with negative TST test in the past, TST at T1 was positive in 11 (4.3%). ARTI was 1.6 (95% CI 0.9-2.9) per 100 PY. TST at T2 was positive in 9 (3.7%) HCWs, that were TST negative at T1. PEARTI was 26 (95% CI 13.6-50) per 100 PY. At univariate analysis, older age was associated with post exposure latent tuberculosis infection (HR 1.12; 95% CI 1.03-1.22, p=0.01).
PEARTI was considerably higher among HCWs exposed to index patients than ARTI. These data underscore the overwhelming importance of performing a rapid diagnosis, as well as implementing adequate respiratory protection measures when TB is suspected.
PMCID: PMC4065580  PMID: 24919953
Tuberculosis; Occupational TB; Infection control
5.  Administrative measures for preventing Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection among healthcare workers in a teaching hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
Tuberculosis (TB) is an occupational disease of healthcare workers (HCWs). Administrative and engineering interventions simultaneously implemented in hospitals of developed countries have reduced the risk of nosocomial transmission of M. tuberculosis. We have studied the impact of administrative infection control measures on the risk for latent TB infection (LTBI) among HCWs in a resource-limited, high-burden country. An intervention study was undertaken in a university-affiliated, inner-city hospital in Rio de Janeiro, where routine serial tuberculin skin test (TST) is offered to all HCWs. From October 1998 to February 2001, the following administrative infection control measures were progressively implemented: isolation of TB suspects and confirmed TB inpatients, quick turnaround for acid-fast bacilli sputum tests and HCW education in use of protective respirators. Among 1336 initially tested HCWs, 599 were retested. The number of TST conversions per 1000 person-months during and after the implementation of these measures was reduced from 5.8/1000 to 3.7/1000 person-months (P = 0.006). The most significant reductions were observed in the intensive care unit (from 20.2 to 4.5, P < 0.001) and clinical wards (from 10.3 to 6.0, P < 0.001). Physicians and nurses had the highest reductions (from 7.6 to 0, P < 0.001; from 9.9 to 5.8, P = 0.001, respectively). We conclude that isolated administrative measures for infection control can significantly reduce LTBI among HCWs in high-burden countries and should be implemented even when resources are not available for engineering infection control measures.
PMCID: PMC2737465  PMID: 19278753
Infection control; Health personnel; Nosocomial infection; Occupational exposure; Tuberculin test; Tuberculosis
6.  Latent Tuberculosis Infection and Occupational Protection among Health Care Workers in Two Types of Public Hospitals in China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104673.
To determine the impact factors of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and the knowledge of TB prevention and treatment policy among health care workers (HCWs) in different types of hospitals and explore the strategies for improving TB prevention and control in medical institutions in China.
A cross-sectional study was carried out to evaluate the risk of TB infection and personnel occupational protection among HCWs who directly engage in medical duties in one of two public hospitals. Each potential participant completed a structured questionnaire and performed a tuberculin skin test (TST). Factors associated with LTBI were identified by logistic regression analysis.
Seven hundred twelve HCWs completed questionnaires and 74.3% (n = 529) took the TST or had previous positive results. The TST-positive prevalence was 58.0% (n = 127) in the infectious disease hospital and 33.9% (n = 105) in the non-TB hospital. The duration of employment in the healthcare profession (6–10 years vs. ≤5 years [OR = 1.89; 95% CI = 1.10, 3.25] and>10 vs. ≤5[OR = 1.80; 95% CI = 1.20, 2.68]), type of hospital (OR = 2.40; 95% CI = 1.59, 3.62), and ever-employment in a HIV clinic or ward (OR = 1.87; 95% CI = 1.08, 3.26)were significantly associated with LTBI. The main reasons for an unwillingness to accept TST were previous positive TST results (70.2%) and concerns about skin reaction (31.9%).
A high prevalence of TB infections was observed among HCWs working in high-risk settings and with long professional experiences in Henan Province in China. Comprehensive guidelines should be developed for different types of medical institutions to reduce TB transmission and ensure the health of HCWs.
PMCID: PMC4144793  PMID: 25157814
7.  Tuberculosis in healthcare workers – a narrative review from a German perspective 
Despite the decline of tuberculosis in the population at large, healthcare workers (HCW) are still at risk of infection.
In a narrative review the TB risk in HCW and preventive measures are described, with the focus on epidemiology and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) regulations in Germany.
There is an increased risk of infection not only in pneumology and laboratories with regular contact with tuberculosis patients or infectious materials. Epidemiological studies have also verified an increased risk of infection from activities that involve close contact with patients’ breath (e.g. bronchoscopy, intubation) or close contact with patients in need of care in geriatric medicine or geriatric nursing. In occupational disease claim proceedings on account of tuberculosis, the burden of proof can be eased for insured persons who work in these or other comparable fields. Forgoing evidence of an index person as a source of infection has led to a doubling of the rate of cases of tuberculosis recognised as an occupational disease and has halved the duration of occupational disease claim proceedings in Germany. For several years now, it has been possible to use the new interferon-y release assays (IGRAs) to diagnose a latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) with significantly greater validity than with the traditional tuberculin skin test (TST). However, variability of the IGRAs around the cut-off poses problems especially in serial testing of HCWs. At around 10%, LTBI prevalence in German healthcare workers is lower than had been assumed. It can make sense to treat a recent LTBI in a young healthcare worker so as to prevent progression into active tuberculosis. If the LTBI is occupational in origin, the provider of statutory accident insurance can cover the costs of preventive treatment. However, little is known about disease progression in HCWs with positive IGRA sofar.
TB screening in HCWs will remain an important issue in the near future even in low incidence, high income countries, as active TB in HCWs is often due to workplace exposure. The IGRAs facilitate these screenings. However, variability of IGRA results in serial testing of HCWs need further investigations.
PMCID: PMC3984703  PMID: 24625063
Tuberculosis; Provision; Occupational disease; Assessment; Healthcare; Prevention
8.  Screening for latent tuberculosis in Norwegian health care workers: high frequency of discordant tuberculin skin test positive and interferon-gamma release assay negative results 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:353.
Tuberculosis (TB) presents globally a significant health problem and health care workers (HCW) are at increased risk of contracting TB infection. There is no diagnostic gold standard for latent TB infection (LTBI), but both blood based interferon-gamma release assays (IGRA) and the tuberculin skin test (TST) are used. According to the national guidelines, HCW who have been exposed for TB should be screened and offered preventive anti-TB chemotherapy, but the role of IGRA in HCW screening is still unclear.
A total of 387 HCW working in clinical and laboratory departments in three major hospitals in the Western region of Norway with possible exposure to TB were included in a cross-sectional study. The HCW were asked for risk factors for TB and tested with TST and the QuantiFERON®TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT). A logistic regression model analyzed the associations between risk factors for TB and positive QFT or TST.
A total of 13 (3.4%) demonstrated a persistent positive QFT, whereas 214 (55.3%) had a positive TST (≥ 6 mm) and 53 (13.7%) a TST ≥ 15 mm. Only ten (4.7%) of the HCW with a positive TST were QFT positive. Origin from a TB-endemic country was the only risk factor associated with a positive QFT (OR 14.13, 95% CI 1.37 - 145.38, p = 0.026), whereas there was no significant association between risk factors for TB and TST ≥ 15 mm. The five HCW with an initial positive QFT that retested negative all had low interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) responses below 0.70 IU/ml when first tested.
We demonstrate a low prevalence of LTBI in HCW working in hospitals with TB patients in our region. The “IGRA-only” seems like a desirable screening strategy despite its limitations in serial testing, due to the high numbers of discordant TST positive/IGRA negative results in HCW, probably caused by BCG vaccination or boosting due to repetitive TST testing. Thus, guidelines for TB screening in HCW should be updated in order to secure accurate diagnosis of LTBI and offer proper treatment and follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3637593  PMID: 23590619
Tuberculosis; Quantiferon; Interferon-gamma release assay; IGRA; Screening; Health care workers; Low-endemic country, Norway
9.  Infection control and the burden of tuberculosis infection and disease in health care workers in china: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:313.
Hospitals with inadequate infection control are risky environments for the emergence and transmission of tuberculosis (TB). We evaluated TB infection control practices, and the prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease and risk factors in health care workers (HCW) in TB centers in Henan province in China.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2005. To assess TB infection control practices in TB centers, checklists were used. HCW were tuberculin skin tested (TST) to measure LTBI prevalence, and were asked for sputum smears and chest X-rays to detect TB disease, and questionnaires to assess risk factors. Differences between groups for categorical variables were analyzed by binary logistic regression. The clustered design of the study was taken into account by using a multilevel logistic model.
The assessment of infection control practices showed that only in a minority of the centers the patient consultation areas and X-ray areas were separated from the waiting areas and administrative areas. Mechanical ventilation was not available in any of the TB centers. N95 respirators were not available for HCW and surgical masks were not available for TB patients and suspects. The LTBI prevalence of HCW with and without BCG scar was 55.6% (432/777) and 49.0% (674/1376), respectively (P = 0.003). Older HCW, HCW with longer duration of employment, and HCW who worked in departments with increased contact with TB patients had a higher prevalence of LTBI. HCW who work in TB centers at the prefecture level, or with an inpatient ward also had a higher prevalence of LTBI. Twenty cases of pulmonary TB were detected among 3746 HCW. The TB prevalence was 6.7/1000 among medical staff and 2.5/1000 among administrative/logistic staff.
TB infection control in TB centers in Henan, China, appears to be inadequate and the prevalence of LTBI and TB disease among HCW was high. TB infection control practices in TB centers should be strengthened in China, including administrative measures, renovation of buildings, and use of respirators and masks. Regular screening of HCW for TB disease and LTBI needs to be considered, offering preventive therapy to those with TST conversions.
PMCID: PMC2988050  PMID: 21029452
10.  High Incidence of Hospital Admissions with Multidrug Resistant and Extensively Drug Resistant Tuberculosis among South African Health Care Workers 
Annals of internal medicine  2010;153(8):516-522.
Nosocomial transmission has been described in extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) and HIV co-infected patients in South Africa. However, little is known about rates of drug-resistant TB among healthcare workers (HCWs) in TB and HIV endemic settings.
To estimate rates of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and XDR-TB hospitalizations among HCWs in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa.
Retrospective study of drug-resistant TB patients admitted for the initiation of drug-resistant TB therapy between 2003 and 2008.
A public TB referral hospital in KZN, South Africa.
HCWs admitted with MDR-TB (N=203) or XDR-TB (N=28) were compared with non-HCWs admitted with MDR-TB (N=3807) or XDR-TB (N=344).
Hospital admission rates, hospital admission incidence rate ratios.
Estimated incidence of MDR-TB hospitalization was 64.8/100,000 for HCWs versus 11.9/100,000 for non-HCWs (I.R.R. 5.56 95% C.I. 4.87–6.35). Estimated incidence of XDR-TB hospitalizations was 7.2/100,000 among HCWs versus 1.1/100,000 in non-HCWs (I.R.R. 6.69 95% C.I. 4.38–10.20). A higher percentage of HCWs than non-HCWs with MDR-TB or XDR-TB were female (78% vs. 47%, p<0.001) and fewer HCWs reported previous TB treatment (41% vs. 92%, p<0.001). Prevalence of HIV infection did not differ between HCW and non-HCW (55% vs. 57%, p=0.71), but a higher percentage of HIV infected HCWs were on antiretroviral medications (63% vs. 47%, p<0.001).
HCWs in this HIV-endemic area were substantially more likely to be hospitalized with either MDR-TB or XDR-TB compared to non-HCWs. The increased risk may be explained by occupational exposure and not by other risk factors, underlining the urgent need for TB infection control programs.
Primary Funding Source
No funding was received for this study
PMCID: PMC3074259  PMID: 20956708
11.  Annual Risk of Tuberculosis Infection in Hellenic Air Force Recruits 
The annual risk of Tuberculosis infection (ARTI) is a key indicator in epidemiology, of the extent of transmission in a community. There have been several suggested methods in order to evaluate the prevalence of Tuberculosis infection using tuberculin skin data. This survey estimates the ARTI in young Hellenic air force recruits. The effect of BCG vaccination has also been investigated.
Materials and Methods:
During the period November 2006-November 2007 tuberculin skin tests were conducted to estimate the prevalence of mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and also to determine the ARTI. Tuberculin PPD-RT 23, dose 2 IU was used in 7.492 Greek air force military recruits with a mean age of 23.57 years. All recruits were examined for previous bacill Calmette-Guérin vaccination through BCG scar. A vast number of personal, epidemiological significance, data of the participants was collected.
The ARTI was 0.2%, in those who were not previously BCG vaccinated; this was derived from a tuberculin skin test cut-off point of 10 mm. There were not any statistically significant differences, neither between urban and rural population concerning the positivity of the tuberculin skin test, nor among the population in recent contact with immigrants from high-incidence countries.
The estimated ARTI among non BCG vaccinated young Greek men is 0.2%.
PMCID: PMC3899589  PMID: 24459536
Tuberculosis; tuberculin skin test; epidemiology; Greece.
12.  Predictors of persistently positive Mycobacterium-tuberculosis-specific interferon-gamma responses in the serial testing of health care workers 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:220.
Data on the performance of Mycobacterium-tuberculosis-specific interferon-(IFN)-γ release assays (IGRAs) in the serial testing of health care workers (HCWs) is limited. The objective of the present study was to determine the frequency of IGRA conversions and reversions and to identify predictors of persistent IGRA positivity among serially tested German HCWs in the absence of recent extensive tuberculosis (TB) exposure.
In this observational cohort-study HCWs were prospectively recruited within occupational safety and health measures and underwent a tuberculin skin test (TST) and the IGRA QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-GIT) at baseline. The QFT-GIT was repeated 18 weeks later in the median. QFT-GIT conversions (and reversions) were defined as baseline IFN-γ < 0.35 IU/ml and follow-up IFN-γ ≥ 0.35 IU/ml (and vice versa). Predictors of persistently positive QFT-GIT results were calculated by logistic regression analysis.
In total, 18 (9.9%) and 15 (8.2%) of 182 analyzed HCWs were QFT-GIT-positive at baseline and at follow-up, respectively. We observed a strong overall agreement between baseline and follow-up QFT-GIT results (κ = 0.70). Reversions (6/18, 33.3%) occurred more frequently than conversions (3/162, 1.9%). Age and positive prior and recent TST results independently predicted persistent QFT-GIT positivity. Furthermore, the chance of having persistently positive QFT-GIT results raised about 3% with each additional 0.1 IU/ml increase in the baseline IFN-γ response (adjusted odds ratio 1.03, 95% confidence interval 1.01-1.04). No active TB cases were detected within an observational period of more than two years.
The QFT-GIT's utility for the application in serial testing was limited by a substantial proportion of reversions. This shortcoming could be overcome by the implementation of a borderline zone for the interpretation of QFT-GIT results. However, further studies are needed to clearly define the within-subject variability of the QFT-GIT and to confirm that increasing age, concordantly positive TST results, and the extend of baseline IFN-γ responses may predict the persistence of QFT-GIT positivity over time in serially tested HCWs with only a low or medium TB screening risk in a TB low-incidence setting.
PMCID: PMC2916913  PMID: 20653946
13.  The Effects of Influenza Vaccination of Health Care Workers in Nursing Homes: Insights from a Mathematical Model 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):e200.
Annual influenza vaccination of institutional health care workers (HCWs) is advised in most Western countries, but adherence to this recommendation is generally low. Although protective effects of this intervention for nursing home patients have been demonstrated in some clinical trials, the exact relationship between increased vaccine uptake among HCWs and protection of patients remains unknown owing to variations between study designs, settings, intensity of influenza seasons, and failure to control all effect modifiers. Therefore, we use a mathematical model to estimate the effects of HCW vaccination in different scenarios and to identify a herd immunity threshold in a nursing home department.
Methods and Findings
We use a stochastic individual-based model with discrete time intervals to simulate influenza virus transmission in a 30-bed long-term care nursing home department. We simulate different levels of HCW vaccine uptake and study the effect on influenza virus attack rates among patients for different institutional and seasonal scenarios. Our model reveals a robust linear relationship between the number of HCWs vaccinated and the expected number of influenza virus infections among patients. In a realistic scenario, approximately 60% of influenza virus infections among patients can be prevented when the HCW vaccination rate increases from 0 to 1. A threshold for herd immunity is not detected. Due to stochastic variations, the differences in patient attack rates between departments are high and large outbreaks can occur for every level of HCW vaccine uptake.
The absence of herd immunity in nursing homes implies that vaccination of every additional HCW protects an additional fraction of patients. Because of large stochastic variations, results of small-sized clinical trials on the effects of HCW vaccination should be interpreted with great care. Moreover, the large variations in attack rates should be taken into account when designing future studies.
Using a mathematical model to simulate influenza transmission in nursing homes, Carline van den Dool and colleagues find that each additional staff member vaccinated further reduces the risk to patients.
Editors' Summary
Every winter, millions of people catch influenza, a contagious viral disease of the nose, throat, and airways. Most people recover completely from influenza within a week or two but some develop life-threatening complications such as bacterial pneumonia. As a result, influenza outbreaks kill about half a million people—mainly infants, elderly people, and chronically ill individuals—each year. To minimize influenza-related deaths, the World Health Organization recommends that vulnerable people be vaccinated against influenza every autumn. Annual vaccination is necessary because flu viruses continually make small changes to the viral proteins (antigens) that the immune system recognizes. This means that an immune response produced one year provides only partial protection against influenza the next year. To provide maximum protection against influenza, each year's vaccine contains disabled versions of the major circulating strains of influenza viruses.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most Western countries also recommend annual flu vaccination for health care workers (HCWs) in hospitals and other institutions to reduce the transmission of influenza to vulnerable patients. However, many HCWs don't get a regular flu shot, so should efforts be made to increase their rate of vaccine uptake? To answer this question, public-health experts need to know more about the relationship between vaccine uptake among HCWs and patient protection. In particular, they need to know whether a high rate of vaccine uptake by HCWs will provide “herd immunity.” Herd immunity occurs because, when a sufficient fraction of a population is immune to a disease that passes from person to person, infected people rarely come into contact with susceptible people, which means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are protected from the disease. In this study, the researchers develop a mathematical model to investigate the relationship between vaccine uptake among HCWs and patient protection in a nursing home department.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To predict influenza virus attack rates (the number of patient infections divided by the number of patients in a nursing home department during an influenza season) at different levels of HCW vaccine uptake, the researchers develop a stochastic transmission model to simulate epidemics on a computer. This model predicts that as the HCW vaccination rate increases from 0 (no HCWs vaccinated) to 1 (all the HCWs vaccinated), the expected average influenza virus attack rate decreases at a constant rate. In the researchers' baseline scenario—a nursing home department with 30 beds where patients come into contact with other patients, HCWs, and visitors—the model predicts that about 60% of the patients who would have been infected if no HCWs had been vaccinated are protected when all the HCWs are vaccinated, and that seven HCWs would have to be vaccinated to protect one patient. This last figure does not change with increasing vaccine uptake, which indicates that there is no level of HCW vaccination that completely stops the spread of influenza among the patients; that is, there is no herd immunity. Finally, the researchers show that large influenza outbreaks can happen by chance at every level of HCW vaccine uptake.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical models, the accuracy of these predictions may depend on the specific assumptions built into the model. Therefore the researchers verified that their findings hold for a wide range of plausible assumptions. These findings have two important practical implications. First, the direct relationship between HCW vaccination and patient protection and the lack of any herd immunity suggest that any increase in HCW vaccine uptake will be beneficial to patients in nursing homes. That is, increasing the HCW vaccination rate from 80% to 90% is likely to be as important as increasing it from 10% to 20%. Second, even 100% HCW vaccination cannot guarantee that influenza outbreaks will not occasionally occur in nursing homes. Because of the large variation in attack rates, the results of small clinical trials on the effects of HCW vaccination may be inaccurate and future studies will need to be very large if they are to provide reliable estimates of the amount of protection that HCW vaccination provides to vulnerable patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Read the related PLoSMedicine Perspective by Cécile Viboud and Mark Miller
A related PLoSMedicine Research Article by Jeffrey Kwong and colleagues is also available
The World Health Organization provides information on influenza and on influenza vaccines (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information for patients and professionals on all aspects of influenza (in English and Spanish)
The UK Health Protection Agency also provides information on influenza
MedlinePlus provides a list of links to other information about influenza (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service provides information about herd immunity, including a simple explanatory animation
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provides an overview on the types of influenza
PMCID: PMC2573905  PMID: 18959470
14.  Results of five-year systematic screening for latent tuberculosis infection in healthcare workers in Portugal 
The risk of tuberculosis (TB) in healthcare workers (HCWs) is related to its incidence in the general population, and increased by the specific risk as a professional group. The prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in HCWs in Portugal using the tuberculin skin test (TST) and the interferon-γ release assays (IGRA) was analyzed over a five-year period.
A screening programme for LTBI in HCWs was conducted, with clinical evaluations, TST, IGRA, and chest radiography. Putative risk factors for LTBI were assessed by a standardised questionnaire.
Between September 2005 and June 2009, 5,414 HCWs were screened. The prevalence of LTBI was 55.2% and 25.9% using a TST ≥ 10 mm or an IGRA test result (QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube) INF-γ ≥0.35 IU/mL as a criterion for LTBI, respectively. In 53 HCWs active TB was diagnosed. The number of HCWs with newly detected active TB decreased from 19 in the first year to 6 in 2008. Risk assessment was poorly related to TST diameter. However, physicians (1.7%) and nurses (1.0%) had the highest rates of active TB.
LTBI and TB burden among HCWs in Portugal is high. The screening of these professionals to identify HCWs with LTBI is essential in order to offer preventive chemotherapy to those with a high risk of future progression to disease. Systematic screening had a positive impact on the rate of active TB in HCWs either by early case detection or by increasing the awareness of HCWs and therefore the precautions taken by them.
PMCID: PMC2921383  PMID: 20659314
15.  Prevalence and Risk Factors for Tuberculosis Infection among Hospital Workers in Hanoi, Viet Nam 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6798.
Transmission of tuberculosis (TB) to health care workers (HCWs) is a global issue. Although effective infection control measures are expected to reduce nosocomial TB, HCWs' infection has not been assessed enough in TB high burden countries. We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence of TB infection and its risk factors among HCWs in Hanoi, Viet Nam.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A total of 300 HCWs including all staff members in a municipal TB referral hospital received an interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA), QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-TubeTM, followed by one- and two-step tuberculin skin test (TST) and a questionnaire-based interview. Agreement between the tests was evaluated by kappa statistics. Risk factors for TB infection were analyzed using a logistic regression model. Among the participants aged from 20 to 58 years (median = 40), prevalence of TB infection estimated by IGRA, one- and two-step TST was 47.3%, 61.1% and 66.3% respectively. Although the levels of overall agreement between IGRA and TST were moderate, the degree of agreement was low in the group with BCG history (kappa = 0.29). Working in TB hospital was associated with twofold increase in odds of TB infection estimated by IGRA. Increased age, low educational level and the high body mass index also demonstrated high odds ratios of IGRA positivity.
Prevalence of TB infection estimated by either IGRA or TST is high among HCWs in the hospital environment for TB care in Viet Nam and an infection control program should be reinforced. In communities with heterogeneous history of BCG vaccination, IGRA seems to estimate TB infection more accurately than any other criteria using TST.
PMCID: PMC2728839  PMID: 19710920
16.  Healthcare Workers' Challenges in the Implementation of Tuberculosis Infection Prevention and Control Measures in Mozambique 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114364.
Healthcare Workers (HCWs) have a higher frequency of TB exposure than the general population and have therefore an occupational TB risk that infection prevention and control (IPC) measures aim to reduce. HCWs are crucial in the implementation of these measures. The objective of the study was to investigate Mozambican HCWs' perceptions of their occupational TB risk and the measures they report using to reduce this risk. In addition, we explored the challenges HCWs encounter while using these TBIPC measures.
Focus group discussion. Analysis according content method.
Four categories of HCWs: auxiliary workers, medical (doctors and clinical officers), nurses and TB program staff.
HCWs are aware of their occupational TB risk and use various measures to reduce their risk of infection. HCWs find it challenging to employ measures that minimize such risks and a lack of clear guidelines contributes to these challenges. HCWs' and patient behavior further complicate the use of TBIPC measures.
HCWs in Mozambique perceive a high occupational risk of TB infection. They report several challenges using measures to reduce this risk such as shortage of material, lack of clear guidelines, insufficient motivation and inadequate training. Robust training with motivational approaches, alongside supervision and support for HCWs could improve implementation of TBIPC measures. Healthcare management should address the areas for improvement that are beyond the individual HCW's control.
PMCID: PMC4266607  PMID: 25501847
17.  Prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection among health care workers in a hospital for pulmonary diseases 
Little is known about the prevalence of latent tuberculosis infections (LTBI) in health care workers (HCW) in low-incidence countries especially in hospitals for pulmonary diseases. With Interferon-gamma release assays (IGRA), a new method for diagnosis of LTBI is available which is more specific than the tuberculin skin test (TST).
The study was designed to estimate prevalence of LTBI among 270 HCW in a Hospital of Pulmonary Diseases routinely screened for TB.
LTBI was assessed by the QuantiFERON-Gold In Tube (QFT-IT). Information on gender, age, workplace, job title, BCG vaccination and history of both TB and TST were collected using a standardised questionnaire. Adjusted odds ratios for potential risk factors for LTBI were calculated.
The prevalence of LTBI was 7.2%. In HCW younger than 30 years LTBI prevalence was 3.5% and in those older than 50 years 22%. Physicians and nurses showed a higher prevalence rate than other professions (10.8% to 4.5%). The putative risk factors for LTBI were age (>50 year OR 9.3, 95%CI 2.5–33.7), working as physicians/nurses (OR 3. 95%CI 1.2–10.4) and no previous TST in medical history (OR 4.4, 95%CI 1.01–18.9) when compared to those with a negative TST.
Prevalence of LTBI assessed by QFT-IT is low, this indicates a low infection risk even in hospitals for pulmonary diseases. No statement can be made regarding the occupational risk as compared to the general population because there are no LTBI prevalence data from Germany available. The higher LTBI prevalence rate in older HCWs might be due to the cohort effect or the longer time at risk.
PMCID: PMC2631010  PMID: 19134168
18.  Occupational Screening for Tuberculosis and the Use of a Borderline Zone for Interpretation of the IGRA in German Healthcare Workers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115322.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) in low incidence countries with contact to patients with tuberculosis (TB) are considered a high-risk group for latent TB infection (LTBI) and therefore are routinely screened for LTBI. The German Occupational TB Network data is analyzed in order to estimate the prevalence and incidence of LTBI and to evaluate putative risk factors for a positive IGRA and the performance of IGRA in serial testing.
3,823 HCWs were screened with the Quantiferon Gold in Tube (QFT) at least once; a second QFT was performed on 817 HCWs either in the course of contact tracing or serial examination. Risk factors for a positive QFT were assessed by a questionnaire.
We observed a prevalence of LTBI of 8.3%. Putative risk factors for a positive QFT result were age >55 years (OR 6.89), foreign country of birth (OR 2.39), personal history of TB (OR 6.23) and workplace, e.g. internal medicine (OR 1.40), infection ward (OR 1.8) or geriatric care (OR 1.8). Of those repeatedly tested, 88.2% (721/817) tested consistently QFT-negative and 47 were consistently QFT-positive (5.8%). A conversion was observed in 2.8% (n = 21 of 742 with a negative first QFT) and a reversion occurred in 37.3% (n = 28 of 75 with a positive first QFT). Defining a conversion as an increase of the specific interferon concentration from <0.2 to >0.7 IU/ml, the conversion rate decreased to 1.2% (n = 8). Analogous to this, the reversion rate decreased to 18.8% (n = 9).
In countries with a low incidence of TB and high hygiene standards, the LTBI infection risk for HCWs seems low. Introducing a borderline zone from 0.2 to ≤0.7 IU/ml may help to avoid unnecessary X-rays and preventive chemotherapy. No case of active TB was detected. Therefore, it might be reasonable to further restrict TB screening to HCWs who had unprotected contact with infectious patients or materials.
PMCID: PMC4277296  PMID: 25541947
19.  Discordant QuantiFERON-TB Gold Test Results Among US Healthcare Workers With Increased Risk of Latent Tuberculosis Infection: A Problem or Solution? 
In late 2006, our hospital implemented use of the QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-G) assay, a whole-blood interferon-γ release assay, for detection of tuberculosis infection. All newly hired healthcare workers (HCWs) with positive Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST) results were routinely tested with the QFT-G assay, to take advantage of its higher specificity. We then undertook a quality assurance review to evaluate the QFT-G test results in HCWs with multiple risk factors for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI).
The clinical records for TST-positive HCWs tested with the QFT-G assay were reviewed. HCWs with 2 or more risk factors commonly associated with LTBI were classified as “increased risk” (IR). IR HCWs who had negative QFT-G test results underwent repeat QFT-G testing and were offered testing with a different interferon-γ release assay (T-SPOT.TB) and with extended T cell stimulation assays.
Of 143 TST-positive HCWs tested with the QFT-G assay, 26 (18%) had positive results, 115 (81%) had negative results, and 2 (1%) had indeterminate results. Of 82 IR HCWs, 23 (28%) had positive QFT-G test results, and 57 (70%) had negative results. Of the 57 IR HCWs with negative results, 43 underwent repeat QFT-G testing: 41 had negative results again, and 2 had positive results. These 43 HCWs were also offered additional testing with the T-SPOT.TB diagnostic, and 36 consented: 31/36 tested negative, and 5/36 tested positive. Extended assays using the antigens ESAT-6 and CFP-10 confirmed the positive results detected by the overnight assays and yielded positive results for an additional 7/36 (19%) of individuals; strikingly, all 36 HCWs had strongly positive test results with assays using purified protein derivative.
The extreme discordance between the results of our clinical diagnostic algorithm and the results of QFT-G testing raises concern about the sensitivity of the QFT-G assay for detection of LTBI in our HCWs. Results of extended stimulation assays suggest that many of our IR HCWs have indeed been sensitized to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is possible that the QFT-G assay identifies those at higher reactivation risk rather than all previously infected, but, in the absence of long-term follow-up data, we should interpret negative QFT-G results with some caution.
PMCID: PMC3578293  PMID: 18713053
20.  Estimated risk of HIV acquisition and practice for preventing occupational exposure: a study of healthcare workers at Tumbi and Dodoma Hospitals, Tanzania 
Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at risk of acquiring human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) and other infections via exposure to infectious patients’ blood and body fluids. The main objective of this study was to estimate the risk of HIV transmission and examine the practices for preventing occupational exposures among HCWs at Tumbi and Dodoma Hospitals in Tanzania.
This study was carried out in two hospitals, namely, Tumbi in Coast Region and Dodoma in Dodoma Region. In each facility, hospital records of occupational exposure to HIV infection and its management were reviewed. In addition, practices to prevent occupational exposure to HIV infection among HCWs were observed.
The estimated risk of HIV transmission due to needle stick injuries was calculated to be 7 cases per 1,000,000 HCWs-years. Over half of the observed hospital departments did not have guidelines for prevention and management of occupational exposure to HIV infections and lacked well displayed health and safety instructions. Approximately, one-fifth of the hospital departments visited failed to adhere to the instructions pertaining to correlation between waste materials and the corresponding colour coded bag/container/safety box. Seventy four percent of the hospital departments observed did not display instructions for handling infectious materials. Inappropriate use of gloves, lack of health and safety instructions, and lack of use of eye protective glasses were more frequently observed at Dodoma Hospital than at Tumbi Hospital.
The poor quality of the hospital records at the two hospitals hampered our effort to characterise the risk of HIV infection acquisition by HCWs. Greater data completeness in hospital records is needed to allow the determination of the actual risk of HIV transmission for HCWs. To further reduce the risk of HIV infection due to occupational exposure, hospitals should be equipped with sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and HCWs should be reminded of the importance of adhering to universal precautions.
PMCID: PMC3850547  PMID: 24079806
HIV; Occupational exposure; Healthcare workers
21.  Barriers to Provider-Initiated Testing and Counselling for Children in a High HIV Prevalence Setting: A Mixed Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001649.
Rashida Ferrand and colleagues combine quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate HIV prevalence among older children receiving primary care in Harare, Zimbabwe, and reasons why providers did not pursue testing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
There is a substantial burden of HIV infection among older children in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of whom are diagnosed after presentation with advanced disease. We investigated the provision and uptake of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) among children in primary health care facilities, and explored health care worker (HCW) perspectives on providing HIV testing to children.
Methods and Findings
Children aged 6 to 15 y attending six primary care clinics in Harare, Zimbabwe, were offered PITC, with guardian consent and child assent. The reasons why testing did not occur in eligible children were recorded, and factors associated with HCWs offering and children/guardians refusing HIV testing were investigated using multivariable logistic regression. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with clinic nurses and counsellors to explore these factors. Among 2,831 eligible children, 2,151 (76%) were offered PITC, of whom 1,534 (54.2%) consented to HIV testing. The main reasons HCWs gave for not offering PITC were the perceived unsuitability of the accompanying guardian to provide consent for HIV testing on behalf of the child and lack of availability of staff or HIV testing kits. Children who were asymptomatic, older, or attending with a male or a younger guardian had significantly lower odds of being offered HIV testing. Male guardians were less likely to consent to their child being tested. 82 (5.3%) children tested HIV-positive, with 95% linking to care. Of the 940 guardians who tested with the child, 186 (19.8%) were HIV-positive.
The HIV prevalence among children tested was high, highlighting the need for PITC. For PITC to be successfully implemented, clear legislation about consent and guardianship needs to be developed, and structural issues addressed. HCWs require training on counselling children and guardians, particularly male guardians, who are less likely to engage with health care services. Increased awareness of the risk of HIV infection in asymptomatic older children is needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Over 3 million children globally are estimated to be living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). While HIV infection is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected person, most HIV infections among children are the result of mother-to-child HIV transmission during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Mother-to-child transmission can be prevented by administering antiretroviral therapy to mothers with HIV during pregnancy, delivery, and breast feeding, and to their newborn babies. According to a report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS published in 2012, 92% of pregnant women with HIV were living in sub-Saharan Africa and just under 60% were receiving antiretroviral therapy. Consequently, sub-Saharan Africa is the region where most children infected with HIV live.
Why Was This Study Done?
If an opportunity to prevent mother-to-child transmission around the time of birth is missed, diagnosis of HIV infection in a child or adolescent is likely to depend on HIV testing in health care facilities. Health care provider–initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) for children is important in areas where HIV infection is common because earlier diagnosis allows children to benefit from care that can prevent the development of advanced HIV disease. Even if a child or adolescent appears to be in good health, access to care and antiretroviral therapy provides a health benefit to the individual over the long term. The administration of HIV testing (and counselling) to children relies not only on health care workers (HCWs) offering HIV testing but also on parents or guardians consenting for a child to be tested. However, more than 30% of children in countries with severe HIV epidemics are AIDS orphans, and economic conditions in these countries cause many adults to migrate for work, leaving children under the care of extended families. This study aimed to investigate the reasons for acceptance and rejection of PITC in primary health care settings in Harare, Zimbabwe. By exploring HCW perspectives on providing HIV testing to children and adolescents, the study also sought to gain insight into factors that could be hindering implementation of testing procedures.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified all children aged 6 to 15 years old at six primary care clinics in Harare, who were offered HIV testing as part of routine care between 22 January and 31 May 2013. Study fieldworkers collected data on numbers of child attendances, numbers offered testing, numbers who underwent HIV testing, and reasons why HIV testing did not occur. During the study 2,831 children attending the health clinics were eligible for PITC, and just over half (1,534, 54.2%) underwent HIV testing. Eighty-two children tested HIV-positive, and nearly all of them received counselling, medication, and follow-up care. HCWs offered the test to around 75% of those eligible. The most frequent explanation given by HCWs for a diagnostic test not being offered was that the child was accompanied by a guardian not appropriate for providing consent (401 occasions, 59%); Other reasons given were a lack of available counsellors or test kits and counsellors refusing to conduct the test. The likelihood of being offered the test was lower for children not exhibiting symptoms (such as persistent skin problems), older children, or those attending with a male or a younger guardian. In addition, over 100 guardians or parents provided consent but left before the child could be tested.
The researchers also conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 clinic nurses and counsellors (two from each clinic) to explore challenges to implementation of PITC. The researchers recorded the factors associated with testing not taking place, either when offered to eligible children or when HCWs declined to offer the test. The interviewees identified the frequent absence or unavailability of parents or legal guardians as an obstacle, and showed uncertainty or misconceptions around whether testing of the guardian was mandatory (versus recommended) and whether specifically a parent (if one was living) must provide consent. The interviews also revealed HCW concerns about the availability of adequate counselling and child services, and fears that a child might experience maltreatment if he or she tested positive. HCWs also noted long waiting times and test kits being out of stock as practical hindrances to testing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Prevalence of HIV was high among the children tested, validating the need for PITC in sub-Saharan health care settings. Although 76% of eligible attendees were offered testing, the authors note that this is likely higher than in routine settings because the researchers were actively recording reasons for not offering testing and counselling, which may have encouraged heath care staff to offer PITC more often than usual. The researchers outline strategies that may improve PITC rates and testing acceptance for Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan settings. These strategies include developing clear laws and guidance concerning guardianship and proxy consent when testing older children for HIV, training HCWs around these policies, strengthening legislation to address discrimination, and increasing public awareness about HIV infection in older children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Davies and Kalk
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS publishes an annual report on the global AIDS epidemic, which provides information on progress towards eliminating new HIV infections
The World Health Organization has more information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The World Health Organization's website also has information about treatment for children living with HIV
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS, including stories from young people infected with HIV, are available through Avert, through NAM/aidsmap, and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
PMCID: PMC4035250  PMID: 24866209
22.  Utilization of HIV and Tuberculosis Services by Health Care Workers in Uganda: Implications for Occupational Health Policies and Implementation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46069.
Access to HIV testing and subsequent care among health care workers (HCWs) form a critical component of TB infection control measures for HCWs. Challenges to and gaps in access to HIV services among HCWs may thus compromise TB infection control. This study assessed HCWs HIV and TB screening uptake and explored their preferences for provision of HIV and TB care.
A cross-sectional mixed-methods study involving 499 HCWs and 8 focus group discussions was conducted in Mukono and Wakiso districts in Uganda between October 2010 and February 2011.
Overall, 5% of the HCWs reported a history of TB in the past five years. None reported routine screening for TB disease or infection, although 89% were willing to participate in a TB screening program, 77% at the workplace. By contrast, 95% had previously tested for HIV; 34% outside their workplace, and 27% self-tested. Nearly half (45%) would prefer to receive HIV care outside their workplace. Hypothetical willingness to disclose HIV positive status to supervisors was moderate (63%) compared to willingness to disclose to sexual partners (94%). Older workers were more willing to disclose to a supervisor (adjusted prevalence ratio [APR] = 1.51, CI = 1.16–1.95). Being female (APR = 0.78, CI = 0.68–0.91), and working in the private sector (APR = 0.81, CI = 0.65–1.00) were independent predictors of unwillingness to disclose a positive HIV status to a supervisor. HCWs preferred having integrated occupational services, versus stand-alone HIV care.
Discomfort with disclosure of HIV status to supervisors suggests that universal TB infection control measures that benefit all HCWs are more feasible than distinctions by HIVstatus, particularly for women, private sector, and younger HCWs. However, interventions to reduce stigma and ensuring confidentiality are also essential to ensure uptake of comprehensive HIV care including Isoniazid Preventive Therapy among HCWs.
PMCID: PMC3469628  PMID: 23071538
23.  Multicytokine Detection Improves Latent Tuberculosis Diagnosis in Health Care Workers 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(5):1711-1717.
In a low-incidence setting, health care workers (HCW) are at a higher risk of tuberculosis than the general population. The suboptimal sensitivity of the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT) test remains a critical issue when identifying occupational latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in HCW. The aim of this study was to identify additional biomarkers in order to overcome the limits of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) and improve the performance of LTBI diagnosis within this population. Seventy Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated HCW regularly exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis were grouped according to QFT results into an LTBI-positive group (positive QFT, n = 8), an LTBI-negative group (normal QFT and negative tuberculin skin test [TST], n = 21), and an undetermined group (subpositive QFT and/or positive TST, n = 41). The secretion of 22 cytokines in response to QFT-specific stimulation was quantified using a multiparameter-based immunoassay. As a result, thresholds discriminating LTBI-positive from LTBI-negative HCW were established by comparing areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves for interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-15, IFN-γ-induced protein 10 (IP-10), and the monokine induced by IFN-γ (MIG), which are biomarkers differentially secreted by the two groups. The combination of IL-15 and MIG provided a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 94.1% in distinguishing LTBI-positive from LTBI-negative HCW. When using IL-15 and MIG among the undetermined group, 6/45 HCW could be classified in the LTBI-positive group. The use of additional biomarkers after IGRA screening could improve the diagnosis of LTBI. The performance of these biomarkers and their use in combination with TST and/or QFT, as well as the cost-effectiveness of such a diagnostic strategy, should be evaluated in further larger clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3347142  PMID: 22403417
24.  The effect of introducing IGRA to screen French healthcare workers for tuberculosis and potential conclusions for the work organisation 
In France, pre-employment screening for tuberculosis (TB) is performed for healthcare workers (HCW). Screening is repeated when exposure to TB patients or infectious material occurs. The results of these TB screenings were analysed in a retrospective analysis.
Tuberculin skin tests (TST) and interferon-gamma release assays (QuantiFERON® Gold In-Tube – QFT) were used to perform the TB screenings. The screening results of 637 HCWs on whom QFT was performed were taken from the records of the University Hospital of Nantes.
In three (0.5%) HCW, the QFT was indeterminate. In 22.2%, the QFT was positive. A second QFT was performed in 118 HCWs. The reversion rate was 42% (5 out of 17). The conversion rate was 6% (6 out of 98). A TST was performed on 466 (73.5%) of the HCWs. Results for TST > 10 mm were 77.4%. In those with a TST < 10 mm, QFT was positive in 14% and in those with a TST ≥ 10 mm, QFT was positive in 26.7%. Depending on the definition for conversion in the QFT, the annual attack rate was 4.1% or 7.3%. X-ray and pneumology consultation was based on positive QFT rather than TST alone (52 out of 56). No active TB was detected.
The TST overestimated the prevalence of LTBI in this cohort. The decision about X-ray and consultation regarding preventive treatment should be based on the QFT rather than the TST results. The high reversion rate should be taken into consideration when consulting with HCWs regarding preventive treatment. The high conversion rate seems to indicate that preventive measures such as wearing masks should be improved.
PMCID: PMC3651707  PMID: 23647777
Tuberculosis; Healthcare workers; Interferon-gamma release assay
25.  Screening for tuberculosis and prediction of disease in Portuguese healthcare workers 
Results of systematic screening of healthcare workers (HCWs) for tuberculosis (TB) with the tuberculin skin test (TST) and interferon-γ release assays (IGRA) in a Portuguese hospital from 2007 to 2010 are reported.
All HCWs are offered screening for TB. Screening is repeated depending on risk assessment. TST and QuantiFERON Gold In-Tube (QFT) are used simultaneously. X-ray is performed when TST is > 10 mm, IGRA is positive or typical symptoms exist.
The cohort comprises 2,889 HCWs. TST and IGRA were positive in 29.5%, TST-positive but IGRA-negative results were apparent in 43.4%. Active TB was diagnosed in twelve HCWs - eight cases were detected during screening and four cases were predicted by IGRA as well as by TST. However, the progression rate in IGRA-positive was higher than in TST-positive HCWs (0.4% vs. 0.2%, p-value 0.06).
The TB burden in this cohort was high (129.8 per 100,000 HCWs). However, the progression to active TB after a positive TST or positive IGRA was considerably lower than that reported in literature for close contacts in low-incidence countries. This may indicate that old LTBI prevails in these HCWs.
PMCID: PMC3132202  PMID: 21658231

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