Prevalence of nontuberculous mycobacterium infections versus tuberculosis among autopsied HIV patients in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis


In industrialized countries, Mycobacterium avium complex and other nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are major causes of opportunistic infection-related deaths in HIV patients. However, in resource-limited regions, data on NTM are scarce, and tuberculosis (TB) was often assumed to be the cause of death in HIV patients with a positive acid-fast smear. We searched MEDLINE and Embase databases for studies on autopsied HIV patients in sub-Saharan Africa published between January 1997 and April 2020. We included studies that reported histopathological or microbiological evidences for diagnosis of TB and NTM infection. We excluded articles without mycobacterial evidence from culture or molecular testing, such as those that used verbal autopsy, death certificates, or national registry data (systematic review registration number: CRD42019129836 at PROSPERO). We included six eligible studies that reported 391 autopsies in sub-Saharan African HIV patients. The prevalence of NTM and TB at autopsy ranged from 1.3% to 27.3% and 11.8% to 48.7%, respectively. The weighted prevalence ratio of NTM versus TB was 0.16 indicating that for every seven HIV patients died with mycobacterial infections, there was one died with NTM infection. Of the 13 NTM infections, six were caused by M. avium complex. Mycobacterium avium complex and other NTM infections are important differential diagnoses of TB at the time of death among HIV patients in sub-Saharan Africa. Our findings highlight the need to systematically survey the prevalence of NTM infections among HIV patients seeking medical care in resource-limited regions.


Chiang CH, Tang PU, Lee GH, Chiang TH, Chiang CH, Ma KS, Fang CT




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Co-infections
    • Tuberculosis
    • Other


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