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HIV/TB co-infections increase TB cases in Nkhatabay

Khomba: HIV, TB coinfection rate is high

By Lovemore Khomo

Nkhatabay district has registered 98 cases of Tuberculosis-TB within the first half of the year, which health authorities say, the problem is fueled by high HIV/TB co-infections.

District TB Officer, Mavuto Khomba disclosed this during a media visit today, under National TB and Leprosy Elimination Program – NTLEP.

He indicated that in the first half of 2023 the district registered 98 TB cases against 79 cases registered same time in 2022, which had 159 cases overall.

“We have registered 55 in the first and 43 in second quarters of this year who now on treatments, as two are Multi-drug resistance-MDR patients. This represents 86 percent treatment rate.” said Khomba.

He pointed out that, informal mining activities and overcrowding in fishing docks are some of the major spreading TB in the district.

According to Khomba, HIV/TB co-infections rate is at 60 percent.

HIV/TB coinfection happens when HIV weakens the immune system and increases the risk of TB in people with HIV. Untreated latent TB infection is more likely to advance to TB disease in people with HIV than in people without HIV.

Khomba indicated that the district has also registered a 7 percent fatality rate due to patient’s unseeking behavior, as well as, late hospital visits to get treatment and delayed diagnosis due to patient’s HIV status.

He mentioned that the unseeking behavior are largely caused by lack of community awareness about the dangers of TB and fear of stigma and discrimination.

“Stigma and discrimination is a burden in the fight against TB in the district because people believe that when you are diagnosed with TB, then you are HIV positive. That’s a challenge.” Added Khomba

However, Khomba assured that despite facing resource constraints, plans are underway to intensify awareness campaigns.

One of the MDR patients Kondwani Mtawali from Ngalauka Village in Chintheche, expressed happiness over the treatment he is getting after being diagnosed in February this year.

Mtawali said he went to hospital for help after experiencing persistent cough and fever. He said after being diagnosed of TB, the hospital immediately placed him under TB treatment.

“But today I am feel well.” He said and advised other patients to consistently take treatment in order to get better.

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