Tuberculosis Risk for HIV and AIDS Patients

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 07, 2012

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The risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) in people living with HIV and AIDS is between 20-37 times greater than people, who are not HIV infected. Sufferers of HIV and AIDS have a weakened immune system due to which they become susceptible to TB. Not only must people with AIDS get themselves tested for tuberculosis but also those, who are HIV+.. Early diagnosis of TB can help in the prevention of greater damage to immune system.


How People with HIV and AIDS get Tuberculosis?

People are infected by the bacteria (Mycobacterium) causing tuberculosis because the bacteria travels through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A single exposure to infected air will not give the bacteria, but constant exposure to an infected person will affect the immune system causing TB. The Annual Global TB Control Report by World Health Organization published that AIDS sufferers have a sharp risk of developing tuberculosis.


Association between the HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis:

  • It is harder to diagnose TB in HIV positive people.
  • Tuberculosis spreads at a faster rate in people with HIV/AIDS.
  • Tuberculosis in HIV/AIDS is fatal if left untreated.


Types of Tuberculosis Infection in HIV and AIDS Patients

There are two types of tuberculosis infection:

Latent TB- in this TB, bacteria causing it remains in the body without causing any major symptoms. HIV and AIDS patients with latent TB will start feeling more fatigue due to the deadly combination of which their body will not be able to fight TB germs completely.

Active TB- in this TB, the germs are growing constantly in the body and they are symptomatic. Active TB deteriorates the already weak immune system of AIDS patients and present symptoms such as bad cough that lasts more than three weeks, blood in the cough, chest pain, weakness, fatigue, losing weight, food sickness,  high body temperature and sweating at night.

In HIV and AIDS patients, latent TB is more likely to become active soon.  Consult a doctor immediately to prevent latent TB from becoming active TB. In HIV and AIDS patients, TB disease increases HIV viral load and lowers the CD4 cell count (CD4 cells are a type of immune system cell). HIV and AIDS patients are more prone to active TB than latent TB. The drugs that fight TB are equally effective in patients with HIV and AIDS as they are in people, who do not have HIV. In people, who are HIV+, onset of TB means later stage of AIDS.


Read more articles on Tuberculosis.



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