Risk factors for COVID-19 death in sub-Saharan Africa and the effects of HIV and tuberculosis on COVID-19 outcomes are unknown.
We conducted a population cohort study using linked data from adults attending public sector health facilities in the Western Cape, South Africa. We used Cox-proportional hazards models adjusted for age, sex, location and comorbidities to examine the association between HIV, tuberculosis and COVID-19 death from 1 March-9 June 2020 among (i) public sector “active patients” (≥1 visit in the 3 years before March 2020), (ii) laboratory-diagnosed COVID-19 cases and (iii) hospitalized COVID-19 cases. We calculated the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for COVID-19 comparing HIV positive vs. negative adults using modelled population estimates.
Among 3,460,932 patients (16% HIV positive), 22,308 were diagnosed with COVID-19, of whom 625 died. COVID-19 death was associated with male sex, increasing age, diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease. HIV was associated with COVID-19 mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 2.14; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.70-2.70), with similar risks across strata of viral load and immunosuppression. Current and previous tuberculosis were associated with COVID-19 death (aHR [95%CI] 2.70 [1.81-4.04] and 1.51 [1.18-1.93] respectively). The SMR for COVID-19 death associated with HIV was 2.39 (95%CI 1.96-2.86); population attributable fraction 8.5% (95%CI 6.1-11.1).
While our findings may over-estimate HIV- and tuberculosis-associated COVID-19 mortality risks due to residual confounding, both HIV and current tuberculosis were independently associated with increased COVID-19 mortality. The associations between age, sex and other comorbidities and COVID-19 mortality were similar to other settings.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.