Diseases and Treatments

163-Tuberculosis and HIV coinfections.

Tuberculosis and HIV infections. Tuberculosis is a serious health threat, especially for people living with HIV. People living with HIV are more likely than others to become sick with TB

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TB Symptoms: Tuberculosis and HIV coinfections.

The Symptoms of TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB). TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as

  • a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)

Other symptoms of TB disease are

  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night

Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others.

TB Risk Factors: Tuberculosis and HIV coinfections.

Some people develop TB disease soon after becoming infected (within weeks) before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick years later when their immune system becomes weak for another reason.

Overall, about 5 to 10% of infected persons who do not receive treatment for latent TB infection will develop TB disease at some time in their lives. For persons whose immune systems are weak, especially those with HIV infection, the risk of developing TB disease is much higher than for persons with normal immune systems.

Generally, persons at high risk for developing TB disease fall into two categories:

  • The Persons who have been recently infected with TB bacteria
  •  A Persons with medical conditions that weaken the immune system

Persons who have been Recently Infected with TB Bacteria

This includes:

  • Close contacts of a person with infectious TB disease
  • Persons who have immigrated from areas of the world with high rates of TB
  • Children less than 5 years of age who have a positive TB test
  • Groups with high rates of TB transmission, such as homeless persons, injection drug users, and persons with HIV infection
  • Persons who work or reside with people who are at high risk for TB in facilities or institutions such as hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and residential homes for those with HIV

Persons with Medical Conditions that Weaken the Immune System

Babies and young children often have weak immune systems. Other people can have weak immune systems, too, especially people with any of these conditions:

  • HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS)
  • Substance abuse
  • Silicosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Low body weight
  • Organ transplants
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Medical treatments such as corticosteroids or organ transplant
  • Specialized treatment for rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease

TB and HIV Coinfection: Tuberculosis and HIV coinfections.

Tuberculosis is a serious health threat, especially for people living with HIV. People living with HIV are more likely than others to become sick with TB. Worldwide, TB is one of the leading causes of death among people living with HIV.

Without treatment, as with other opportunistic infections, HIV and TB can work together to shorten their lifespan.

  • Someone with untreated latent TB infection and HIV infection is much more likely to develop TB disease during his or her lifetime than someone without HIV infection.
  • Among people with latent TB infection, HIV infection is the strongest known risk factor for progressing to TB disease.
  • A person who has both HIV infection and TB disease has an AIDS-defining condition.

People infected with HIV who also have either latent TB infection or TB disease can be effectively treated. The first step is to ensure that people living with HIV are tested for TB infection. If found to have TB infection, further tests are needed to rule out TB disease. The next step is to start treatment for latent TB infection or TB disease based on test results.

Treatment

Untreated latent TB infection can quickly progress to TB disease in people living with HIV since the immune system is already weakened. And without treatment, TB disease can progress from sickness to death.

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Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for people living with HIV who also have either latent TB infection or TB disease.

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist latent TB infection and TB disease. Both latent TB infection and TB disease can be treated.

Without treatment, latent TB infection can progress to TB disease.  If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

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