WHO Releases New TB Prevention Guidelines for People Living With HIV/AIDS

On Wednesday, the WHO released new guidelines (.pdf) "show[ing] that children and adults living with HIV can be protected from tuberculosis (TB) infection with a regular, low-cost preventive medication," U.N. News Centre adds. "Of the nearly two million AIDS-related deaths each year, a quarter of them are associated with TB," the news service writes (12/1).

"Because of their weakened immune system, people living with HIV are less able to fight TB infection and are more likely to develop active TB which can be deadly and can spread to others. ... Taking medicine containing the anti-TB drug isoniazid is a simple and cost-effective measure that prevents the TB bacteria from becoming active if it is present," according to a WHO press release. The release notes that while treatment with Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) "is not new ... it has been underused. Only 85,000 (or 0.2%) of all people living with HIV received isoniazid for TB prevention in 2009."

"[B]ased on new scientific evidence that updates the previous 1998 policy," the WHO recommends: "children and adults living with HIV, including pregnant women and those receiving antiretroviral treatment, should receive isoniazid prevention therapy"; "Isoniazid should be provided for six to 36 months, or as a life-long treatment in settings with high HIV and TB prevalence"; "People living with HIV who may have TB symptoms should be further screened for active TB or other conditions so that they are able to access the appropriate treatments," according to the release (12/1).

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