TB fatally stalking Southeast Asia’s HIV patients

April 12th, 2008 - 11:54 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) India, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand have some of the highest rates of tuberculosis (TB)-HIV co-infection in Southeast Asia, says a World Health Organisation (WHO) report. The prevalence rate of TB among people living with HIV has been estimated as 5.2 percent in India, 7.1 percent in Myanmar, 3.1 percent in Nepal and 7.6 percent in Thailand, says the report on tuberculosis in the region.

Patients with their immune systems disabled by HIV/AIDS face a 30 times greater risk than others of contracting TB.

And for HIV/AIDS patients in India, that’s bad news because the country has the highest incidence of TB in the world. India is home to over 3.4 million TB patients - about one-fifth of the global figure.

For the WHO, India is part of the Southeast Asia region along with Bhutan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Timor-Leste and North Korea. The region has 25 percent of the world’s population but accounts for more than one-third of the global burden of TB, the report said.

“TB is the single most life-threatening infection and the leading cause of mortality among people living with HIV infection in the region,” it added.

“The rapidly expanding HIV epidemic in the region is a growing concern. The HIV epidemic has reached a generalised stage in Thailand, Myanmar and in six states in India,” the report pointed out.

The six high-prevalence states in India are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu.

India has 2.5 million plus HIV patients.

The report said during 2006 in 14 states in India, 25,055 HIV infected TB suspects were referred to the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) services. Of these, 4,829 were diagnosed as HIV infected TB cases.

“The course of the TB/HIV epidemic in Southeast Asia will depend heavily on efforts to prevent and control both TB and HIV, and decisive steps must be taken now to combat the dual epidemics,” the WHO report said.

Of the 38.6 million people estimated to be living with HIV in the world at the end of 2005, more than four million are in Southeast Asia, said the recently released report on tuberculosis in the region.

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