Strengthening TB diagnosis and treatment in India
TB is the leading killer of people with HIV globally, so there is a need for people at risk to access diagnosis and treatment early.
A global trend to integrate TB and HIV interventions has saved thousands of lives. A project led by the Avahan India AIDS Initiative in Andhra Pradesh has been targeting key populations thought to be at highest risk of TB/HIV co-infection, including sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender populations.
Trained outreach and clinical staff use a reliable method to screen verbally for TB based on identifying common symptoms such as chronic cough, fever, night sweats and weight loss.
This early diagnosis and treatment of TB co-infection is critical to reducing TB deaths, as Satyanandam’s story highlights.
Satyanandam, who is living with HIV, is one of the men who have sex with men that the project is aimed at. He developed a cough one day and within a week the cough was accompanied by a fever, with sweating at night. During a regular medical check-up the doctor carried out a verbal TB screening and concluded that there was reason to suspect TB. He gave Satyanandam a referral slip to visit a nearby, designated microscopic centre, accompanied by an outreach worker. His sputum was examined and was found positive for TB.
Satyanandam started directly observed TB treatment through a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), and was given advice on how to avoid spreading TB. After six months of treatment, Satyanandam was cured of TB.
“[My] thanks to the doctor, the outreach workers, and the staff of the NGO who cared for me during my illness. Because of their support, my family is healthy and happy now.”
The India HIV/AIDS Alliance is a lead partner in the Avahan India AIDS Initiative in Andhra Pradesh, where verbal TB screening has been scaled-up from two to 13 districts. The project provided directly observed treatment and adherence support.