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HIV-related tuberculosis: mortality risk in persons without vs. with culture-confirmed disease

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BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive persons is difficult, particularly in resource-limited settings. The relationship between TB culture status and mortality in HIV-positive persons treated for TB is unclear.

METHODS: We evaluated HIV-positive adults treated for TB at or after their first HIV clinic visit in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Mexico or Peru from 2000 to 2015. Anti-tuberculosis treatment included 2 months of isoniazid, rifampicin (RMP)/rifabutin (RBT), pyrazinamide ± ethambutol, followed by continuation phase treatment with isoniazid + RMP/RBT.

RESULTS: Of 759 TB-HIV patients, 238 (31%) were culture-negative, 228 (30%) had unknown culture status or did not undergo culture and 293 (39%) were culture-positive. The median CD4 at TB diagnosis was 96 (interquartile range 40–228); 636 (84%) received concurrent antiretroviral therapy (ART) and anti-tuberculosis treatment. There were 123 (16%) deaths: 90/466 (19%) with TB culture-negative, unknown or not performed vs. 33/293 (11%) who were TB culture-positive (P = 0.005). In Kaplan-Meier analysis, mortality in TB patients without culture-confirmed disease was higher (P = 0.002). In a Cox model adjusted for age, sex, CD4, ART timing, disease site and stratified by study site, mortality in persons without culture-confirmed TB was not significantly increased compared to those with culture-positive TB (hazard ratio 1.39, 95%CI 0.89–2.16, P = 0.15).

CONCLUSION: Most HIV-positive patients treated for TB did not have culture-confirmed TB, and mortality tended to be higher in patients without culture-confirmed disease, although the association was not statistically different after adjusting for other variables. Accurate TB diagnosis in HIV-positive persons is crucial.
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Keywords: Latin America; anti-tuberculosis treatment; culture-negative tuberculosis; human immunodeficiency virus and TB

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico City, Mexico 2: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA 3: Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru 4: Instituto Nacional de Infectologia Evandro Chagas, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 5: Hospital Escuela Universitario and Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social, Tegucigalpa, Honduras 6: Fundación Arriarán, University of Chile School of Medicine, Santiago, Chile

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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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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