Ethiopia has had mechanisms for TB/HIV collaborative activities since 2002. However, no published account has defined the role of these collaborative efforts in strengthening linkages between HIV and TB management units at the point-of-care level. Our objective was to assess the extent of linkages between the two programs at the patient management level at Zewditu Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Between January and December 2008, the registers of 241 TB patients were reviewed to determine the HIV testing rate, the treatment charts of 238 randomly selected patients were reviewed for providers' compliance with evaluation criteria, and exit interviews were conducted with 309 TB/HIV co-infected clients to validate providers' compliance.
From register review, it was determined that the HIV testing acceptance rate was 95%, and that 70% of patients received post-test counseling. A review of the patient chart revealed that of 51 patients with a complaint of cough, duration for cough was recorded in 35 (68.6%) cases and cough > 2 weeks was recorded in 25 (49.0%) cases. Seventy two percent (18 of 25) were linked for sputum microscopy. Linkage to cotrimoxazole prophylactic treatment was 81%, but only 47% of eligible patients were linked to isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT). Correct diagnosis was accomplished at a rate of 100% for smear positive pulmonary TB, 23% for smear negative pulmonary TB and 88% for extra pulmonary TB patients. Both chart review and exit interviews indicated that history of TB contact and cough > 2 weeks predicted TB disease.
The rates of HIV testing and linkage to cotrimoxazole prophylactic therapy were high. Improvement is needed in the areas of recording patient information, screening HIV positives for TB, initiation of IPT, referral, linkages, and TB diagnostic capacity.