Respite came on the way of People living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus, PLWH, as scientists in a largest international research effort to combat tuberculosis found that preventive antibiotic therapy for people with HIV lowers their chances of developing Tuberculosis, (TB) or dying.
Specifically, the scientists in the study found in men and women already infected with HIV that are taking isoniazid reduced deaths and new cases of active TB disease by 31 percent, while new cases of TB alone decline by 13 percent.
The findings of the research team from Johns Hopkins and Brazilian experts published in the journal, Lancet Infectious Diseases online, stem from what is believed to be the largest expansion of a clinic-based, community health programme designed to curb the spread of TB, and the first evidence that such a community-wide effort can be highly effective at preventing people who are co-infected from developing active TB disease.
According to senior study investigator and Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease Specialists Richard Chaisson, the results firmly support broad use of preventive isoniazid therapy for millions of people infected with HIV in countries heavily burdened by TB.
Chaisson says TB disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide among those with HIV&AIDS and is epidemic in developing countries with the highest HIV-infection rates.
Isoniazid treatment, is already recommended by the World Health Organisation, WHO, to prevent TB in people with HIV disease. The policy, however, has not been widely adopted and its broad impact on the HIV-infected community never shown until the Johns Hopkins and Brazilian team’s latest study.
All of the 12,816 study participants were eligible for screening for TB infection or active TB disease. Some 1,186 tested positive for TB infection, but did not have symptoms of TB and could start taking 300 milligrams of isoniazid daily for six months.
All received routine follow-up care for as little as a few weeks to as long as four years after initially seeking treatment. Some 838 deaths occurred during the study, which took four years to complete, and 475 developed TB. Symptoms of active TB disease, indicating the disease has progressed from latent infection, include persistent cough, chest pain, chills, fever, muscle weakness and fatigue.
“Our study results show that routine testing for TB and preventive isoniazid therapy works well at the community level in people with HIV disease in curbing the spread of TB and lowering the number who die,” Chaisson noted.
“People with HIV disease living in all countries with rampant TB should be asking their physicians if they are good candidates for preventive isoniazid therapy.”
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