Drug-resistant tuberculosis outbreaks in Africa, Ukraine - scientists

10:37, 12 February 2008
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Show no signs of slowing

Outbreaks of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Africa and Eastern Europe that are often complicated by HIV/AIDS show no signs of slowing, researchers reported last week at the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Reuters Health reports. Two teams of scientists presented studies at the conference about outbreaks of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) among HIV-positive people in South Africa and Ukraine.

Matteo Zignol of the World Health Organization`s project office in Donetsk, Ukraine, and colleagues evaluated all new and previous TB cases over a one-year period in the country. The team examined about 1,500 cases of TB, two-thirds of which were new and one-third of which occurred among people who had received previous TB treatment. Twenty-one percent of people also were living with HIV. The researchers found that 15.5% of the new TB cases were MDR-TB, one of the highest rates reported in a population study, Reuters Health reports.

The team also found that HIV was a reliable indicator of MDR-TB. Death rates from TB also were significantly higher among HIV-positive people. Separate risk factors included a history of incarceration and previous TB treatment, the findings showed.

According to Zignol, the study`s most important implication is the need to improve preventive procedures, especially in prisons and hospitals. Zignol said the study will be submitted to the Ukrainian government with recommendations for changes in public health policy. He added that he is "quite optimistic" the government will consider the recommendations.

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