For a stop to tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by a bacterium, which is an alarm signal to suspect that someone who has it has HIV, since tuberculosis is considered an opportunistic infection, defining AIDS.
According to an article published on the Healthline portal, tuberculosis can be very difficult to identify in people with HIV, since the tests for those people indicate an affected immune system.
A huge problem
According to the National Institutes of Health of the United States, the person who has TB and HIV constitutes a medical emergency. This is because, as the immune system is weakened, bacteria can attack more easily.
According to specialists, TB can be latent or active. Latent TB does not cause symptoms, but it is found in the body and can be passed on to a partner. Latent TB is usually well controlled with a course of antibiotics.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with HIV, it’s important to see your doctor for a TB test even if you don’t have any symptoms, as a latent TB infection can progress quickly.
To detect such an infection, two types of tests are useful:
• Skin test: This is done by injecting a small dose of purified tuberculin protein derivative under the skin to see how the body reacts. If a red, swollen lump has formed at the injection site, TB infection is established.
• Blood test: A nurse performs this, usually from a vein in your arm. The test looks for a reaction to the bacteria in your immune system.
If the test is positive or if active TB is suspected, other diagnostic tools can be used. For example, a sputum (mucus) sample may need to be collected or a chest x-ray may be done.
TB is usually related to coughing up blood, however, although many people believe that TB attacks only the lungs, you should know that, in fact, there is pulmonary tuberculosis, but also other parts of the body.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, pulmonary tuberculosis can cause symptoms such as:
• Cough that won’t go away and may contain blood or mucus
• Night sweats
• Unexplained weight loss
• Chest pain
• Loss of appetite
However, all of these symptoms could be confused with other conditions, such as pneumonia, lung cancer, or fungal infection. In order to eliminate these confusions, it is very important to get tested for TB.
TB treatment should be made up of a group of antibiotics that will depend on the severity of the case. TB can become resistant to some of the drugs used to treat it. You may need to take a combination of medications.
TB and HIV
If you test positive for HIV, your doctor will likely recommend a TB test as well. If this test shows that you don’t have latent or active TB, your doctor might prescribe treatment to prevent TB if you have certain health risks, such as:
• Close contact with someone who has had tuberculosis
• CD4 cell count less than 200
Current preventative treatment involves a course of antibiotic medications such as isoniazid or rifampin. Thus, while HIV is a lifelong condition, TB can be treated and cured in a couple of weeks.
Most importantly, remember that TB is closely associated with HIV, so either should alert you to the other.
If you have more questions, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we can guide you. We also do free HIV tests, contact our nearest office or write to us on Whatsapp.