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HIV-TB Co-infection

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Q.1 How does infection with TB affect the HIV/AIDS scenario?
Ans. As the HIV infection progresses, the CD4 lymphocytes decline in number and function. Therefore, the immune system is less able to prevent the growth and spread of the TB bacilli. As a result, disseminated and extra-pulmonary TB disease is more commonly seen in the later stages. Nevertheless, pulmonary TB is still the most common form of TB even in HIV-infected patients. Many studies have shown that pulmonary involvement occurs in 70-90 percent of all HIV/AIDS patients with TB.
Q.2 How does treatment of TB differ in HIV infected and HIV uninfected individuals?
Ans. In general, anti-TB treatment is the same for HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected TB patients, with the exception of the use of thiacetazone. Thiacetazone causes severe cutaneous reactions that may be fatal and hence should be avoided. Patients who complete treatment show the same clinical, radiographic and microbiological response to short-course treatment irrespective of whether they are HIV positive or negative. Self-administration of treatment is associated with higher case fatality rates. Directly Observed Treatment–short course (DOTS) is therefore even more important for HIV-infected TB patients. Treatment with DOTS for HIV-infected TB patients improves their quality of life, and also has been shown to prolong their life span. DOTS can prevent emergence of MDR -TB and reverse the trend of MDR-TB.