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Free Content Addressing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in penitentiary hospitals and in the general population of the former Soviet Union

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High rates of tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), have been reported from the former Soviet Union. Our laboratory has supported operational studies in jails in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Mariinsk, Siberia. Combining the results from these two penal systems, the rates of MDR-TB among ‘newly enrolled’ and ‘non-responding’ cases were 24.6% and 92.1%, respectively. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) studies strongly suggest transmission of MDR-TB between prisoners. In Mariinsk, the high rates of MDR-TB have been associated with failure rates of 23%–50% among smear-positive cases receiving fully-supervised standard short-course treatment.

There are no coherent guidelines for TB control programmes confronted by high pre-existing levels of MDR-TB but who have only limited laboratory, clinical, pharmaceutical and financial resources. A ‘DOTS plus’ strategy has been advocated in which an established TB control programme is complemented by facilities to treat MDR-TB patients. However, the exact format of these programmes remains unresolved. Further research is required to describe the natural history of MDR-TB infection, to determine the failure rate of (and the additional resistance induced by) standard short-course treatment when MDR-TB is prevalent, to decide whether standardised or individualised second-line regimens can be employed, and to define the laboratory facilities required by a ‘DOTS plus’ programme.
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Keywords: Soviet; multidrug-resistant; prisons; review; tuberculosis

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Mycobacteriology Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium

Publication date: July 1, 1999

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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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