HIV and Tuberculosis
TB disease means the bacteria are multiplying and destroying body tissues; if not diagnosed and treated properly, it can be fatal. People with TB disease are sick, have symptoms, and can spread the bacteria to others. Persons with TB disease of the lungs or airways can spread TB bacteria from person to person through the air when a person with TB disease coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings.
All people with newly diagnosed HIV should be tested for TB infection as soon as possible. People living with HIV and at ongoing risk for TB exposure should be tested annually. The risk for exposure to TB is the same for everyone: being in close contact with someone with infectious TB disease. This risk increases for people who are homeless or injection drug users, or those living or working in settings such as jails, health care facilities, drug-treatment units, or homeless shelters.
People with HIV and latent TB infection need treatment for HIV and for latent TB infection as soon as possible to prevent them from developing TB disease. People with latent TB infection who have HIV are much more likely to progress to TB disease than people without HIV. TB outbreaks can rapidly expand in patient groups infected with HIV. Several recommended treatment regimens are available for latent TB infection, including a relatively new combination regimen of isoniazid and rifapentine taken weekly for 12 weeks as directly observed therapy (DOT). In DOT, health care workers meet with TB patients individually to watch them take each dose of TB medicine. People with HIV and TB disease must take several drugs for at least 6 to 9 months to treat their TB.
Unfortunately, some people with HIV do not know they are infected with TB. Similarly, some people with TB disease are unaware of their HIV status, although HIV status reporting for people with TB is improving. CDC recommends that anyone who has TB disease, is suspected of having TB disease, or is a contact of a TB patient be tested for HIV.
What CDC Is Doing
CDC and its domestic and international partners are taking many steps to prevent the further spread of TB and to reduce the overall burden of the disease. Efforts include:
The goal of controlling and eventually eliminating TB requires a focused, continual effort to meet the prevention and treatment needs of people most at risk, including those who have HIV. The strategy of preventing and treating TB in people with HIV is therefore essential to achieving the goal of TB elimination in the United States.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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