Survival Rates for People Co-Infected With TB and HIV Boosted by Better Treatment, Screening, Study Says
The survival rate for people co-infected with HIV and tuberculosis is increasing due to better screening and improvements in treatments for both diseases, according to a study in the April 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, Reuters Health reports. Researchers from Boston University and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., examined the medical records of 644 HIV-positive patients who were diagnosed with TB at the hospital between 1991 and 2000. The number of cases of HIV/TB co-infection was highest in 1992, when 102 cases were recorded, and dropped to 39 cases by 2000. The survival rates of those infected with HIV and TB increased significantly during the study period. The one-year survival rate of co-infected patients rose from 58% in 1991 to 83% in 1997. The researchers state that the decline in HIV/TB co-infection cases is likely due to tighter infection-control measures implemented at Grady in 1992. The guidelines include such measures as testing all HIV-positive patients attending the hospital's HIV outpatient clinic for TB and immediately isolating all HIV-positive patients with suspected TB until a diagnosis of active TB is ruled out. Improvements in antiretroviral therapy may have helped make HIV-positive patients "less susceptible" to TB, and TB treatments have improved as well, the researchers note. "The take-home message is that patients with HIV and TB need to be treated promptly for both diseases," study co-author Dr. C. Robert Horsburgh said. However, the study states that there are several areas for improvement for treating co-infected patients. Noting that few of the study participants were receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy and many did not receive follow-up HIV care at the hospital's clinic, the researchers state, "Increased administration of HAART to these patients is needed and could potentially lead to further improvement in survival rates" (Rauscher, Reuters Health, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.