JOURNAL ARTICLE

Tuberculosis and HIV co-infections in Jamaican children

M Geoghagen, J A Farr, I Hambleton, R Pierre, C D C Christie
West Indian Medical Journal 2004, 53 (5): 339-45
15675501

BACKGROUND: There has been a worldwide increased prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) in recent years, with a similar trend observed in Jamaica and more recently in children admitted to the University Hospital of the West Indies, Jamaica. Data regarding paediatric TB, especially as it relates to all aspects of HIV co-infection, are needed from developing countries in diverse geographic settings to enhance prevention and treatment policies (National Institutes of Health, Office of AIDS Research, FY 2005 Budgetary Planning Meeting, March 11, 2003, Washington, DC).

OBJECTIVE: To determine associated factors and outcomes of tuberculosis in HIV-infected and noninfected children in Jamaica.

METHOD: We reviewed records of children aged 0 - 12 years attending the University Hospital of the West Indies during January 1999 to December 2002. Associated factors and outcomes in HIV-infected and HIV-negative cases with TB were compared using exact statistical methods to account for the small number of children and an adjustment for multiple testing. TB diagnosis was determined using modified World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.

RESULTS: There was a significant increase of active TB cases from 1999 to 2002 with 24 children diagnosed over this period All 24 children (100%) had received the Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine. Eleven (46%) of these were HIV-infected, all via mother-to-child transmission. HIV-infected children were statistically more likely to be older than non-infected children (mean 4.2 vs 2.6 years), and also to have failure to thrive, digital clubbing, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, generalized adenopathy and negative Mantoux tests. Appropriate in-hospital anti-TB therapy was given. Hospital stay was longer (median 7.4 vs. 2.8 months) and death was more likely (7/11 vs 2/13) in HIV-infected vs non-infected children. Triple antiretroviral therapy was given in three of the 11 HIV-infected cases and this markedly improved outcome. Household family members with active TB were identified in twelve cases.

CONCLUSIONS: HIV and TB co-infection is an increasing problem in Jamaican children. Severity of illness and death is greater in HIV-infected children, despite appropriate anti-TB therapy. Antiretroviral drugs must be made available to this population. Efforts must be enhanced to reduce mother-to-child-transmission of HIV/AIDS and to strengthen the public health management of TB (contact tracing and completion of TB therapy by directly observed therapy) to eliminate the spread

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