By Wallace Mawire
A new EUR 12.9 million project has been launched, measuring the impact of a combination TB and HIV intervention when delivered to the entire population of 14 urban, high prevalence communities in South Africa and Zambia.
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 percent of HIV deaths in 2016 were due to TB. The TREATS project [Tuberculosis Reduction through Expanded Anti-retroviral Treatment and Screening] was developed in response to this.
“TREATS is a unique opportunity to assess a combined TB and HIV intervention on a massive scale,” said Dr Helen Ayles, TREATS Project Director, Professor of Infectious Diseases at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Research Director at Zambart.
“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/ 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, that is 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 – 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 / 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 &Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, Zambart, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, Sheffield University, 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 & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, (EDCTP2 programme) supported by the European Union.