Article

Tuberculosis among adults starting antiretroviral therapy in South Africa: the need for routine case finding

Aurum Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (Impact Factor: 2.76). 07/2012; 16(9):1252-9. DOI: 10.5588/ijtld.11.0733
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To investigate the prevalence of and evaluate screening modalities for undiagnosed tuberculosis (TB) in antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligible adults in South Africa.
Individuals were screened for TB using symptoms, chest radiograph (CXR) and two sputum specimens for microscopy and culture, and were then followed for <6 months to determine TB diagnoses.
Among 361 participants (67% female, median age 38 years, median CD4 count 120 cells/mm(3)), 64 (18%) were sputum culture-positive; 114 (32%) fulfilled any TB case definition (culture- and/or smear-positive, or improvement on specific treatment). Symptom screening comprising any of cough, appetite loss or night sweats > 2 weeks had a sensitivity and specificity of respectively 74.5% and 50.8%. Sensitivity was increased by CXR (to 96.1%), but not by smear microscopy. The World Health Organization symptom screen had a sensitivity and specificity of respectively 96.1% and 5.2% in our study population; the addition of CXR increased sensitivity to 100%. Median time to TB treatment was 8 days for diagnoses based on CXR (n = 72) vs. 37 days for diagnoses based only on sputum culture (n = 14).
The very high prevalence of undiagnosed TB among patients presenting for ART mandates their routine investigation. CXR improved sensitivity substantially, allowed rapid treatment initiation and should be routine, where available, pending better point-of-care diagnostics.

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