Burden of pneumocystis pneumonia in HIV-infected adults in sub-Saharan Africa: protocol for a systematic review

BACKGROUND: Reports from Africa have suggested that pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is a less important cause of morbidity than in the developed world. However, more recent studies have shown high seroprevalence rates of P. jirovecii in healthy individuals with HIV as well as high rates of clinical disease in African children. This suggests that PCP may be more common in Africa than was previously recognised. Understanding the contribution of PCP to disease in HIV-infected individuals in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has important implications for diagnosis, management and resource allocation. We therefore propose to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis in order to investigate the burden of PCP in this population.METHODS AND DESIGN:We plan to search electronic databases and reference lists of relevant articles published from 1995 to May 2013 using broad terms for pneumocystis, HIV/AIDS and sub-Saharan Africa. Studies will be included if they provide clear diagnostic criteria for PCP and well-defined study populations or mortality data (denominator). A novel quality score assessment tool has been developed to ensure fidelity to inclusion criteria, minimise risk of selection bias between reviewers and to assess quality of outcome ascertainment. This will be applied to eligible full-text articles. We will extract data using a standardised form and perform descriptive and quantitative analysis to assess PCP prevalence, mortality and case fatality, as well as the quality of included studies. This review protocol has been published in the PROSPERO International Prospective Register of systematic reviews, registration number CRD42013005530.DISCUSSION:Our planned review will contribute to the diagnosis and management of community-acquired pneumonia in HIV-infected individuals in SSA by systematically assessing the burden of PCP in this population. We also describe a novel quality assessment tool that may be applied to other prevalence reviews.