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Free Content HIV-1 co-infection in children hospitalised with tuberculosis in South Africa

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SETTING: Hospitals associated with the Department of Paediatrics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

OBJECTIVES: To define the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection and differences in clinical presentation between HIV-infected and non-infected hospitalised children with tuberculosis.

DESIGN: Children were prospectively enrolled between August 1996 and January 1997.

RESULTS: Of 161 children enrolled, 42% were HIV-infected, including 67/137 with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and 1/24 with extra-pulmonary disease (EPTB). Positive microscopy or bacteriology did not differ by HIV status for children with either PTB or EPTB. Although age did not differ between HIV-infected and non-infected children with PTB, non-HIV-infected children with EPTB were significantly older than those with PTB only (median age 32 months vs 14.5 months, P = 0.004). Chronic weight loss, malnutrition and the absence of BCG scarring were more common in HIV-infected children with PTB. HIV-infected children were also more likely to show cavitation (P = 0.001) and miliary TB (P = 0.01) on chest X-ray. Reactivity to tuberculin (≥5 mm and ≥10 mm in HIV-infected and non-infected children, respectively) was significantly lower in HIV-infected children, as were CD4+ lymphocyte levels. The mortality rate during the study was 13.4% in HIV-infected children compared with 1.5% in non-HIV-infected children (P = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: There is a high prevalence of HIV co-infection in children with TB. Progressive PTB and death are more common in HIV-infected children. Tuberculin skin testing is of limited use in screening for TB in HIV-infected children even when using a cut-point of ≥5 mm.
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Keywords: HIV-1; children; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Paediatric Infectious Disease Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa 2: South African Institute for Medical Research, Johannesburg, South Africa 3: Department of Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Publication date: 2000-05-01

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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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