Sex Differences in Tuberculosis Burden and Notifications in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

Horton, KC; MacPherson, P; Houben, RM; White, RG; Corbett, EL; (2016) Sex Differences in Tuberculosis Burden and Notifications in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. PLoS medicine, 13 (9). e1002119. ISSN 1549-1277 DOI:

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Tuberculosis (TB) case notification rates are usually higher in men than in women, but notification data are insufficient to measure sex differences in disease burden. This review set out to systematically investigate whether sex ratios in case notifications reflect differences in disease prevalence and to identify gaps in access to and/or utilisation of diagnostic services. In accordance with the published protocol (CRD42015022163), TB prevalence surveys in nationally representative and sub-national adult populations (age ≥ 15 y) in low- and middle-income countries published between 1 January 1993 and 15 March 2016 were identified through searches of PubMed, Embase, Global Health, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; review of abstracts; and correspondence with the World Health Organization. Random-effects meta-analyses examined male-to-female (M:F) ratios in TB prevalence and prevalence-to-notification (P:N) ratios for smear-positive TB. Meta-regression was done to identify factors associated with higher M:F ratios in prevalence and higher P:N ratios. Eighty-three publications describing 88 surveys with over 3.1 million participants in 28 countries were identified (36 surveys in Africa, three in the Americas, four in the Eastern Mediterranean, 28 in South-East Asia and 17 in the Western Pacific). Fifty-six surveys reported in 53 publications were included in quantitative analyses. Overall random-effects weighted M:F prevalence ratios were 2.21 (95% CI 1.92-2.54; 56 surveys) for bacteriologically positive TB and 2.51 (95% CI 2.07-3.04; 40 surveys) for smear-positive TB. M:F prevalence ratios were highest in South-East Asia and in surveys that did not require self-report of signs/symptoms in initial screening procedures. The summary random-effects weighted M:F ratio for P:N ratios was 1.55 (95% CI 1.25-1.91; 34 surveys). We intended to stratify the analyses by age, HIV status, and rural or urban setting; however, few studies reported such data. TB prevalence is significantly higher among men than women in low- and middle-income countries, with strong evidence that men are disadvantaged in seeking and/or accessing TB care in many settings. Global strategies and national TB programmes should recognise men as an underserved high-risk group and improve men's access to diagnostic and screening services to reduce the overall burden of TB more effectively and ensure gender equity in TB care.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
Research Centre: TB Centre
PubMed ID: 27598345
Web of Science ID: 387655300005


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