HIV-1 co-infection in children hospitalised with tuberculosis in South Africa

S A Madhi, R E Huebner, L Doedens, T Aduc, D Wesley, P A Cooper
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 2000, 4 (5): 448-54

SETTING: Hospitals associated with the Department of Paediatrics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

OBJECTIVES: To define the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection and differences in clinical presentation between HIV-infected and non-infected hospitalised children with tuberculosis.

DESIGN: Children were prospectively enrolled between August 1996 and January 1997.

RESULTS: Of 161 children enrolled, 42% were HIV-infected, including 67/137 with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and 1/24 with extra-pulmonary disease (EPTB). Positive microscopy or bacteriology did not differ by HIV status for children with either PTB or EPTB. Although age did not differ between HIV-infected and non-infected children with PTB, non-HIV-infected children with EPTB were significantly older than those with PTB only (median age 32 months vs 14.5 months, P = 0.004). Chronic weight loss, malnutrition and the absence of BCG scarring were more common in HIV-infected children with PTB. HIV-infected children were also more likely to show cavitation (P = 0.001) and miliary TB (P = 0.01) on chest X-ray. Reactivity to tuberculin (> or = 5 mm and > or = 10 mm in HIV-infected and non-infected children, respectively) was significantly lower in HIV-infected children, as were CD4+ lymphocyte levels. The mortality rate during the study was 13.4% in HIV-infected children compared with 1.5% in non-HIV-infected children (P = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: There is a high prevalence of HIV co-infection in children with TB. Progressive PTB and death are more common in HIV-infected children. Tuberculin skin testing is of limited use in screening for TB in HIV-infected children even when using a cut-point of > or = 5 mm.

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