Addressing HIV and TB in chorus is vital

By now, majority of the people know that HIV (Human Immuno Deficiency Virus) is a lentivirus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Virus) which simply means a condition where people living with HIV develop progressive failure of immune system. The failure of immune system welcomes different kinds of diseases taking the person to the condition AIDS. Among other diseases, people living with HIV are more likely to develop TB and become life-threatening. A new study suggests that around 12 people representing 11.2 % in every 100 people living with HIV have Tuberculosis. Similarly, WHO estimates that the risk of developing Tb is 20 to 37 times greater among people living with HIV than among those without HIV infection.

From 12 different treatment centers across the country, National Tuberculosis Center conducted a yearlong survey among 400 people living with HIV who are taking Anti-Retroviral Treatment. The survey also took 1,000 people taking medicines against tuberculosis that suggested that 2.4 per cent in every 100 TB patients live with HIV. The report also suggested that HIV prevalence is multiplying every minute and urgent implementations of control measures are mandatory to reduce it. It suggested that 45 per cent of the total population has TB infection. In Nepal, an estimated of 40,000 people are infected with tuberculosis and on the other hand, 20,000 new sputum positive cases are reported. Similarly, the death due to TB is around 7,000.

TB and HIV

The report pinpointed the most at risk population regarding the dual infection of HIV and TB and among many, highest risk population were among women sex workers aged between 29-39, migrant workers and their wives.

Nepal Tuberculosis Center has deployed health workers and volunteers at different treatment centers including NTC-Thimi, Regional Tuberculosis Center-Pokhara, District Public Health Office- Kanchanpur, International Nepal Fellowship-Birgunj, Nepal tuberculosis Relief Association-Biratnagar to record data for the survey. Others include Seti Zonal Hospital, Bheri Zonal hospital, Western Regional Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, BP Koirala Health Science Academy and Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Hospital.

‘We were not able to actually find out the number of patients living with HIV and tuberculosis but every organization working in the field of HIV should address this issue and address both HIV and TB’, said Dr Rajendra Prasad Pant, Director at National tuberculosis Center.

The free treatment provided by National Tuberculosis Programme for DOTS services to TB patients and National AIDS Programme in distributing Anti-Retroviral Treatment to the people living with HIV should continue in the future too so as to fight against the dual infection of HIV and tuberculosis.

Early examination of TB infection among people living with HIV is at the most priority because  the risk for getting infected with active TB is greater among people living with HIV and latent TB infection that the people with latent TB infection alone. If early detection is successful then the people living with HIV can be prevented from progressing to active tuberculosis.

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