To describe feasibility and results of systematic screening of tuberculosis (TB) patients for HIV.
Six selected sentinel sites (public DOTS clinics) in the province of Sindh, Pakistan.
All TB patients aged 16–60 years registered for treatment from April 2008 to March 2012.
Demographic information of registered TB patients, screening for HIV through rapid testing and confirmation by referral lab of Sindh AIDS Control Program, according to national guidelines.
Of a total of 18 461 registered TB patients, 12 882 fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were given education and counselling. Of those counselled 12 552 (97.4%) were screened for HIV using a rapid test. Men made up 48% of the sample and 76.5% of patients had pulmonary TB. Of the total patients tested, 42 (0.34%) were HIV-positive after confirmatory testing at the Sindh AIDS Control Program Laboratory. Prevalence of HIV among male patients was 0.67% whereas prevalence among female patients was 0.03% (p value <0.001). Prevalence of HIV among pulmonary TB patients was 0.29% and among extrapulmonary TB patients was 0.48% (p value=0.09).
In public DOTS clinics in Pakistan it is feasible to test TB patients for HIV. Prevalence of HIV is three times higher among TB patients as compared with the general population in Pakistan. Although the results are not representative of Pakistan or Sindh province they cover a large catchment area and closely match WHO estimate for the country. Routinely screening all TB patients for HIV infection, especially targeting men and ensuring antiretroviral therapy, can significantly improve TB/HIV collaborative activities in Pakistan and identify many cases of HIV, improve health outcomes and save lives.
Keywords: HIV screening, Concentrated epidemic