Risk of tuberculosis/MAC infection to HIV negative caregivers.

Question

Our brother recently disclosed that he has Aids and is being treated for PCP, MAC/tuberculosis. During the treatment process we provided comfort and company. He began his hospitalization in a regular room, but was subiquently moved to ICU with airborne precaustions. What is the risk that we may have contracted tuberculosis during his infections stage before positive diagnosis and isolation. (We have a grandchild expected in April) Should we get a TB test to make sure we are not positive for TB? Should we allow him to visit the new baby?

Answer

Thank you for your post.

I'm not sure if you are stating that your brother has both MAC (Mycobacterium avium complex) and tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis, MTB) or just MAC. In the later case, there's no risk to exposed family members.

In the case of dual infection with both MAC and MTB, there is the possibility of exposure to the contagious MTB. While this risk actually is lower among persons with more advanced HIV disease or AIDS (as manifest in your brother's case with PCP), since MTB infection tends to cause less lung abscess(the contagious form) in AIDS patients than in those with healthier immune systems. Nevertheless, if your brother ultimately tests positive for MTB, any family members in contact with him should get TB tested; I'd avoid contact with the new baby until this is sorted out (or at least until his doctors determine that he's not contagious).

Best of health to you and your family. BY