PloS one 2017 09 2812(9) e0185526 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0185526
International human migration has been rapidly growing. Migrants coming from low and middle income countries continue to be considerably vulnerable and at higher risk for infectious diseases, namely HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and tuberculosis (TB). In Europe, the number of patients with HIV-TB co-infection has been increasing and migration could be one of the potential driving forces.
This systematic review aims to improve the understanding on the burden of HIV-TB co-infection among migrants in Europe and to assess whether these populations are particularly vulnerable to this co-infection compared to nationals.
MEDLINE®, Web of Science® and Scopus® databases were searched from March to April 2016 using combinations of keywords. Titles and abstracts were screened and studies meeting the inclusion criteria proceeded for full-text revision. These articles were then selected for data extraction on the prevalence, incidence and mortality.
The majority of HIV-TB prevalence data reported in the analysed studies, including extrapulmonary/disseminated TB forms, was higher among migrant vs. nationals, some of the studies even showing increasing trends over time. Additionally, while HIV-TB incidence rates have decreased among migrants and nationals, migrants are still at a higher risk for this co-infection. Migrants with HIV-TB co-infection were also more prone to unsuccessful treatment outcomes, death and drug resistant TB. However, contradicting results also showed lower mortality compared to nationals.
Overall, a disproportionate vulnerability of migrants to acquire the HIV-TB co-infection was observed across studies. Such vulnerability has been associated to low socioeconomic status, poor living conditions and limited access to healthcare. Adequate social support, early detection, appropriate treatment, and adequate access to healthcare are key improvements to tackle HIV-TB co-infection among these populations.