Providing HIV care for co-infected tuberculosis patients: a perspective from sub-Saharan Africa.
AffiliationInternational Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France; Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
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AbstractHuman immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and tuberculosis (TB) are overlapping epidemics that cause an immense burden of disease in sub-Saharan Africa. This region is home to the majority of the world's co-infected patents, who have higher TB case fatality and recurrence rates than patients with TB alone. A World Health Organization interim policy has been developed to reduce the joint burden of TB-HIV disease, an important component of which is provision of HIV care to co-infected patients. This review focuses on HIV testing of TB patients and, for those who are HIV-positive, the administration of adjunctive cotrimoxazole preventive treatment (CPT) and antiretroviral treatment (ART). HIV testing has moved from a voluntary, client-initiated intervention to one that is provider-initiated and a routine part of the diagnostic work-up. The efficacy and safety of CPT in HIV-infected patients is now well established, and this is an essential part of the package of HIV care. ART scale-up in Africa can substantially improve outcomes in co-infected patients. However, the clinical and programmatic challenges of combining ART with anti-tuberculosis treatment need to be resolved to realise the full potential of this benefit. These include the optimal time to start ART, how best to combine rifampicin-containing regimens with first-line and second-line ART regimens, management of immune reconstitution disease, the role of isoniazid preventive treatment with ART after TB treatment completion, and where and how to provide combined treatment to best suit the patient. Clinical and operational studies in the next few years should help to resolve some of these issues.
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