A new study suggests combining tuberculosis and HIV programs would save resources and lead to better patient care. Tuberculosis, or TB, is a leading cause of death among people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In Africa, about two million new TB cases are diagnosed each year, and the HIV epidemic is quickly driving those figures up. But at three community health centers in Cape Town, South Africa, researchers found that HIV and TB programs operated more or less independent of each other. Study author David Coetzee at South Africa's University of Cape Town and his colleagues have begun a pilot project to integrate the two services. He says doctors and patients will benefit.
"From a patient's point of view, they don't have to attend two services, and be seen by two different clinicians, and have different sets of records, and double the waiting time. But also from a resource point of view, you don't have to run two services when so many of the patients are dually infected," he says.
Dr. Coetzee adds that since there are more resources available for HIV programs, integrating the two services could indirectly benefit TB control programs. The study appears in the journal Tropical Medicine and International Health.