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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
Article number1
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>3/01/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Malaria Journal
Volume21
Number of pages12
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

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.