HIV and TB Treatment Neeeded in Myanmar

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) recently released a call for increased funds to combat HIV and TB in Myanmar. The population of the country is just under 48 million people, MSF reports that 120,000 people are living with HIV and 300,000 are living with TB. That works out to 1:400 people living with HIV and 1:160 with TB, of particular danger and relevance to this report are those living with co-infections. The report states “20% of people living with TB in Myanmar are co-infected with HIV/AIDS.” This 20% of people living with TB represents 50% of those living with HIV, from my view this paints a more dire picture. Is HIV a risk factor for TB? or is TB a risk factor for HIV? or is there some other factor that compounds the risk for both? The average per capita income is reported as $379.60 by the United Nations. We are not afraid of poverty, but we sure are afraid of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. What comes first, HIV or TB? What comes first, poverty of infectious disease?

1 comment
  1. The interaction of HIV and the TB bacillus is fairly well understood, at least up to a point. Having HIV does not in itself make a person more likely to get infected with the TB bacillus. But if the immunocompromised person does acquire TB infection he or she is more likely to get sick from the TB than would someone who is infected with TB but whose immune system is robust.

    What makes the picture murky is the social context of the two infections. TB travels in circles where there is overcrowding and poor nutrition. HIV travels with drug injection. Obviously, if drug injectors aren’t cared for, they’ll migrate socially into the circles where TB is more common. An expanding HIV outbreak will carry with it a big wave of new TB cases. If TB isn’t treated properly, as Jared points out, it will likely lead to drug resistance, and further spread of drug-resistant TB strains. The bad news turns into worse news.

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