June 24, 2010
Researchers found that 50 percent of deceased patients at a hospital in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal were infected with active tuberculosis, and 17 percent of those with active TB had a multi-drug resistant strain, according to a PLoS Medicine study published on Tuesday, Nature News reports (Maxmen, 6/23). Post-mortem examinations of 240 patients, who were between the ages of 20 to 45 and died in either 2008 or 2009, revealed that 94 percent of them were also HIV-positive, according to IRIN. Study co-author Douglas Wilson, head of medicine at Edendale Hospital said, "We were absolutely staggered by the amount of TB we found" (6/23).
According to a PLoS press release, the "findings suggest that improving the early diagnosis of tuberculosis, for example, routine screening for tuberculosis among HIV-positive patients, and speedier initiation of treatment for both tuberculosis and HIV could reduce the global death toll from tuberculosis" (6/22). Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO Stop TB Partnership said of the study, "It confirms that over the last few years, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis has become rampant in people living with HIV [in Africa]," Nature News reports (6/23). According to IRIN, South Africa recently revised its HIV, TB treatment guidelines (6/23).
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