In 2009, Mumbai had 1,623 HIV-TB co-infected patients; of these, 541 were initiated on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). It’s believed that better access to ART has improved the TB infection rates among such patients. Amid reports of the HIV epidemic slowing down worldwide, city administrators believe they are witnessing another healthy change: A grip on the deadly co-infection of HIV and tuberculosis (TB).
Statistics with the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS), a government body that looks into financial and other support programmes for the city’s infected population,
show that more than ever before, a number of HIV-TB patients are being identified and successfully treated. “Our pilot project, initiated two years ago to ensure that HIV-positive patients get TB treatment, is showing great results. An early analysis shows that even deaths may soon be under better control,’’ MDACS director Dr S S Kudalkar told TOI. In 2009, Mumbai had 1,623 HIV-TB co-infected patients; of these, 541 were initiated on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). It’s believed that better access to ART has improved the TB infection rates among such patients.
The number of patients referred for TB treatment to the revised national tuberculosis control programme has increased from 2.2% in 2002 to 11.4% in 2010. The HIV programme has been screening more and more people in this time. In 2002, nearly 30,117 approached government centres for screening; the number increased to 1,47,483 up to September in 2010.
The number of HIV-TB patients put on DOTS (directly observed treatment strategy) increased–in 2005, 46.2% patients got DOTS; it increased to 79.2% in 2009 and 86.4% in 2010.
“Due to good coordination between the AIDS and TB control programmes, we can diagnose TB early in HIV-positive persons. They can access TB treatment promptly, reducing morbidity and death,’’ said Dr Pooja Singh, in charge of the HIV-TB infection programme in MDACS.
The pilot programme, kick-started two years back, sought to improve coordination between MDACS and the TB programme operated by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. “MDACS started sending HIV patients with suspected TB infection for treatment to DOTS centres, while TB centres sent suspected HIV patients to us. This ensured we were following up with patients at two points, ensuring fewer drop-outs,’’ MDACS officials said.
Will the glad tidings translate into better control of the twin epidemic of HIV and TB? Public health experts are not too sure.