A threshold-free approach with age-dependency for estimating malaria seroprevalence

Kyomuhangi, Irene and Giorgi, Emanuele (2022) A threshold-free approach with age-dependency for estimating malaria seroprevalence. Malaria Journal, 21. ISSN 1475-2875

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Background In malaria serology analysis, the standard approach to obtain seroprevalence, i.e the proportion of seropositive individuals in a population, is based on a threshold which is used to classify individuals as seropositive or seronegative. The choice of this threshold is often arbitrary and is based on methods that ignore the age-dependency of the antibody distribution. Methods Using cross-sectional antibody data from the Western Kenyan Highlands, this paper introduces a novel approach that has three main advantages over the current threshold-based approach: it avoids the use of thresholds; it accounts for the age dependency of malaria antibodies; and it allows us to propagate the uncertainty from the classification of individuals into seropositive and seronegative when estimating seroprevalence. The reversible catalytic model is used as an example for illustrating how to propagate this uncertainty into the parameter estimates of the model. Results This paper finds that accounting for age-dependency leads to a better fit to the data than the standard approach which uses a single threshold across all ages. Additionally, the paper also finds that the proposed threshold-free approach is more robust against the selection of different age-groups when estimating seroprevalence. Conclusion The novel threshold-free approach presented in this paper provides a statistically principled and more objective approach to estimating malaria seroprevalence. The introduced statistical framework also provides a means to compare results across studies which may use different age ranges for the estimation of seroprevalence.

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Journal Article
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Malaria Journal
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10 Jan 2022 11:55
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 02:25