India takes measure to check prevent HIV/TB infection

Aarti Dhar, CNS Correspondent, India
[First published in]
Bearing a very high burden of highly infection Tuberculosis (TB) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), India is in the process of implementing more effective measures to check the spread of the two deadly diseases. The National Aids Control Organisation will soon put in place measures to control air-borne infection at Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) Centres and associated HIV care setting.

The government has also planned roll-out of Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) for people living with HIV. Taking isoniazid preventive therapy for one year reduces the risk of TB in people taking antiretroviral therapy. The roll-out will be done at ART facilities and ART and TB healthcare providers are being trained for the purpose, according to Dr. K.S. Sachdeva, Deputy Director General of NACO under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. India has an estimated 2.2 million new cases of TB every year on an already existing 2.5 million people suffering from TB. Approximately, 2,20,000 people lost their lives to the disease in 2014. Siimilarly, 2.1 million people are living with HIV infection in the country and 120,000 new cases are being added every year. As many as140,000 people die because of HIV in India. In 2014, there were 150,000 people living with TB/HIV co-infection in India and 110,000 new such cases are being added every year. Thirty one thousand people die due to the twin diseases every year.

According to Dr Sachdeva, NACO is also prioritising to offer rapid molecular test Xpert-MTB/Rif (CBNNAT) to all presumptive TB cases among PLHIV for early diagnosis of TB. Cartridge-based nucleic amplification test (CBNAAT) is used for early diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in HIV patients. The results of this test come within 2 hours and the treatment for TB, if detected, can be started immediately. Currently, 121 such CBNAAT machines are deployed across the country and another 300 would become functional soon. The daily treatment regimen with fixed-dose combination (FDC) has already been rolled-out in the selected high-burden sites and the nation-wide roll-out would be in the next quarter, he said.

Globally, most countries have shifted to a daily regimen which is proved to be more effective in preventing drop-outs and drug resistance. India is yet to adopt this regimen. Since 2005, World Health Organisation estimates that 5.8 million lives have been saved by interventions that have jointly addressed TB and HIV. Yet, in 2014 only half of TB patients worldwide had documented HIV test results-- first step towards initiating treatment and care for TB-HIV co-infection.

Aarti Dhar, Citizen News Service - CNS
July 26, 2016