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Sunday 24th June 2018

S African HIV kids get TB drug

4th December 2006

15092006_childpoverty1.jpgA tuberculosis expert in South Africa says HIV-positive children not receiving antiretroviral treatment could benefit from a cheap antibiotic because it halves the number of AIDS-related deaths among them.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) already recommends the antibiotic isoniazid - which is used to treat TB - be given to HIV-positive children who have household contact with TB.

But Cape Town-based paediatrician Heather Zar found a 50% reduction in the number of AIDS-related deaths among HIV-positive children who took the drug daily or three times a week, regardless of their contact with TB patients.

Zar and her team at the University of Cape Town administered isoniazid, or INH, to 263 children, and found that it halved mortality rates, as well as reducing TB cases among them by 70%, according to results published in the British Medical Journal.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a widespread infection in developing countries and can exist in two forms: latent and active. People with HIV/AIDS are particularly susceptible to developing the active form of TB.

Zar said the study - in which most of the children were not receiving AIDS treatment - made a strong case for using INH in HIV-infected children in similar circumstances. A further study is being carried out into the use of the drug among HIV-positive children who are receiving antiretroviral therapy.

American researchers have warned that INH - which is commonly used as a prophylactic against TB - may lose its effectiveness as its increasingly widespread use gives rise to drug-resistant forms of TB.

But Zar said that so far, resistance had only been found in people already infected with TB and who were given the antibiotic by mistake, instead of receiving TB treatment.

TB and HIV/AIDS are often found together among African populations.


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