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Free Content Pleural tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus co-infection

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SETTING: Department of internal medicine in a general hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which provides secondary care to the poor population.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in patients with pleural tuberculosis (TB) and to compare its manifestations in HIV-negative and HIV-infected patients.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

METHODS: Forty-three patients with a final diagnosis of pleural TB were submitted to HIV testing (ELISA), chest X-ray, and thoracentesis for biochemical, cytological, and bacteriological analysis. Pleural tissue was obtained in 36 patients for histopathological examination. PPD testing was performed in 29 patients. Whenever productive cough was present, sputum acid-fast smears and culture for Mycobacterium tuberculosis were performed.

RESULTS: The HIV prevalence was high (30%). TB symptoms were similar in both groups. Atypical radiological aspects were observed in HIV-infected patients with concurrent pulmonary TB (P = 0.03). Pleural fluid, tissue aspects and PPD testing were comparable in both groups.

CONCLUSION: Only atypical radiographic patterns in patients with concurrent pulmonary TB were indicative of HIV infection. Therefore, a high index of suspicion is necessary for the early recognition of HIV/TB co-infection. We suggest that all patients presenting with pleural TB should be screened for anti-HIV antibodies.

Keywords: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; human immunodeficiency virus; pleural effusion; pleurisy; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Internal Medicine, Gama Filho and Souza Marques Universities, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2: Department of Pathology, Gama Filho and Souza Marques Universities, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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