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How does tuberculosis relate to HIV positive and HIV negative drug users?


OBJECTIVES (1) To compare the incidence of active tuberculosis in HIV positive and HIV negative drug users. (2) To describe the main characteristics of the tuberculosis cases.

DESIGN A prospective study was performed from 1986 to 1996 as part of an ongoing cohort study of HIV infection in Amsterdam drug users.

METHODS Data from the cohort study, including HIV serostatus and CD4-cell numbers, were completed with data from the tuberculosis registration of the tuberculosis department of the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service. Analyses were carried out with person time and survival methods.

RESULTS Of 872 participants, 24 persons developed culture confirmed tuberculosis during a total follow up period of 4000 person years (0.60 per 100 py, 95% CI: 0.40, 0.90). Nineteen cases were HIV positive (1.54 per 100 py, 95% CI: 0.86, 2.11) and five HIV negative (0.18 per 100 py, 95% CI: 0.08, 0.43). Multivariately HIV infection (relative risk: 12.9; 95% CI: 3.4, 48.8) and age above 33 years (RR: 6.8; 95% CI: 1.3, 35.0, as compared with age below 27) increased the risk for tuberculosis substantially. Additional findings were: (1) 13 of 22 pulmonary tuberculosis cases (59%) were detected by half yearly radiographic screening of the chest; (2) tuberculosis occurred relatively early in the course of HIV infection at a mean CD4 cell number of 390/μl; (3) an estimated two thirds of the incidence of tuberculosis observed among HIV positive cases was caused by reactivation; (4) all but one patient completed the tuberculosis treatment.

CONCLUSION HIV infection increases the risk for active tuberculosis in Amsterdam drug users 13-fold. The incidence of tuberculosis in HIV negative drug users is still six times higher than in the overall Amsterdam population. In the absence of contact tracing and screening with tuberculin skin tests, periodic chest radiographic screening contributes substantially to early casefinding of active tuberculosis in Amsterdam drug users.

  • tuberculosis
  • drug users
  • epidemiology
  • HIV infection
  • longitudinal studies

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  • Funding: the study was supported by the Netherlands Foundation for Preventive Medicine.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.