Non-governmental organisations working in the field of health on Thursday asked the government to develop better testing technology for early diagnosis of tuberculosis. The demand comes in the wake of rising number of cases of HIV-TB co-infection, which is the major cause of death among HIV-affected people.
Global Health Advocates (GHA) and the Indian Network for People living with HIV/AIDS (INP+) made recommendations to the National AIDS Control Organisation, which will device a National Strategic Plan in September for the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP-IV) to be run from 2012 to 2017.
The recommendations, developed from seven nation-wide consultations, cover three main areas: prevention of TB among HIV infected people; improved Anti Retroviral (ART) treatment and early diagnosis checking for resistance to first-line ARTs for people living with HIV/AIDS as well as with TB-HIV co-infection; and mainstreaming HIV into the health system.
Among the major recommendations of TB-HIV consultations are rollout of the molecular based NAATs (Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests), which provide early diagnosis of pulmonary TB and Extrapulmonary TB. Currently, less than 5 per cent of the People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in India are automatically tested for TB.
“Steps should be taken to introduce isoniazid preventive treatment (IPT) for those PLHIV who are eligible and should be protected against becoming ill with TB,” Mamta Jacob of GHA said, adding the health care provider should check the HIV or TB patient's blood samples for any corresponding infection.
India has 1.8 million new cases of TB annually, almost one-fifth of the world's new cases. HIV prevalence among adult population in 2007 was 0.34 per cent and in 2008 it was 0.29 per cent. The number of PLHIV in the country was estimated at 2.27 million in 2008, while it was 2.31 million in 2007.