Implementation of the advanced HIV disease care package with point-of-care CD4 testing during tuberculosis case finding: a mixed-methods evaluation

Tinne Gils, Mashaete Kamele, Thandanani Madonsela, Shannon Bosman, Thulani Ngubane, Philip Joseph, Klaus Reither, Moniek Bresser, Erika Vlieghe, Tom Decroo, Irene Ayakaka, Lutgarde Lynen, Alastair Van Heerden

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During TB-case finding, we assessed the feasibility of implementing the advanced HIV disease (AHD) care package, including VISITECT CD4 Advanced Disease (VISITECT), a semiquantitative test to identify a CD4≤200cells/μl. Adult participants with tuberculosis symptoms, recruited near-facility in Lesotho and South-Africa between 2021-2022, were offered HIV testing (capillary blood), Xpert MTB/RIF and Ultra, and MGIT culture (sputum). People living with HIV (PLHIV) were offered VISITECT (venous blood) and Alere tuberculosis-lipoarabinomannan (AlereLAM, urine) testing. AHD was defined as a CD4≤200cells/μl on VISITECT or a positive tuberculosis test. A CD4≤200cells/μl on VISITECT triggered Immy cryptococcal antigen (Immy CrAg, plasma) testing. Participants were referred with test results. To evaluate feasibility, we assessed i) acceptability and ii) intervention delivery of point-of-care diagnostics among study staff using questionnaires and group discussions, iii) process compliance, and iv) early effectiveness (12-week survival and treatment status) in PLHIV. Predictors for 12-week survival were assessed with logistic regression. Thematic content analysis and triangulation were performed. Among PLHIV (N = 676, 48.6% of 1392 participants), 7.8% were newly diagnosed, 81.8% on ART, and 10.4% knew their HIV status but were not on ART. Among 676 PLHIV, 41.7% had AHD, 29.9% a CD4≤200cells/μl and 20.6% a tuberculosis diagnosis. Among 200 PLHIV tested with Immy CrAg, 4.0% were positive. The procedures were acceptable for study staff, despite intervention delivery challenges related to supply and the long procedural duration (median: 73 minutes). At 12 weeks, among 276 PLHIV with AHD and 328 without, 3.3% and 0.9% had died, 84.8% and 92.1% were alive and 12.0% and 7.0% had an unknown status, respectively. Neither AHD nor tuberculosis status were associated with survival. Implementing AHD care package diagnostics was feasible during tuberculosis-case finding. AHD was prevalent, and not associated with survival, which is likely explained by the low specificity of VISITECT. Challenges with CD4 testing and preventive treatment uptake require addressing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0296197
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Tuberculosis/diagnosis
  • HIV Infections/complications
  • Point-of-Care Testing
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


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