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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 120-124

HIV/TB Co-infection in Nigerian children

Neonatology/Retrovirology/Infectious Diseases Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Ebele F Ugochukwu
Neonatology/Retrovirology/Infectious Diseases Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Tuberculosis (TB) is an important cause of childhood morbidity and mortality. The burden of childhood disease is not as well documented as that of adult disease, partly because of the difficulty of confirming the diagnosis. In Africa children have been estimated to account for 20-40% of TB case load. Children infected with M. tuberculosis have a high risk of progression to disease, the younger children being at highest risk. Infected children represent a reservoir of future adult disease. The incidence of childhood TB has increased in developing countries. This resurgence is partly attributed to the coexisting burden of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, which is most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria ranking third highest prevalence. The pattern of childhood HIV and TB infection mirror these epidemics in the adult population. The number of children co-infected with HIV and TB is rising, and so is the incidence of congenital and neonatal TB. In addition the emergence of multi-drug resistance TB and extensively drug-resistant TB has occurred within the context of a high prevalence of HIV and TB. The diagnosis of TB has always been difficult in children and is compounded by HIV co-infection. The clinical symptoms in both diseases are similar, and the radiological changes may be non-specific. Treatment of both conditions in children is a challenge due to drug interactions and problems with adherence. There are few stable syrup formulations of antituberculous and antiretroviral drugs in children, and hence division of tablets gives rise to unpredictable dosing and emergence of resistance. To reduce the morbidity and mortality of TB and HIV, existing childhood TB programs must be strengthened, and antiretroviral drug therapy and prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs scaled up. HIV prevalence in the adult population must also be reduced. An increased emphasis on childhood TB, with early diagnosis and treatment, must be a priority.

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