HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the human immune system. Weakened immune system makes people very easily experience other diseases. HIV is likened to a gate that opens wide for other infections to enter the body. The other most common disease associated with HIV is TB (Tuberculosis). TB is a disease caused by bacteria, can attack the lungs and other body parts. For people who have HIV /AIDS (PLWHA), you should immediately check TB.
What is the relationship between HIV and TB?
Basically, the impact of HIV infection is damage to the immune system. Because of this weak immune system, HIV-positive people (PLWHA) are weaker about the presence of any bacteria from outside, including TB bacteria.
In fact, almost all HIV sufferers already have TB bacteria on their bodies, some are active or not yet active. The link between TB and HIV is very close, judging by the fact that the number of TB cases is increasing in countries with high cases of HIV infection.
Why do people with HIV have to immediately check TB?
Everyone actually has the risk of experiencing TB. However, PLWHA are more susceptible to TB. TB bacteria in PLWHA become more active faster than if these bacteria are in healthy people. In fact, even though TB cases in people living with HIV are becoming more active, this infection will be more difficult to diagnose and treat.
So, PLWHA should check for the presence or absence of TB infection as early as possible. In certain cases, if TB has not been detected, and it turns out that it was experienced when this HIV patient has experienced a very damaged immune system, it is very difficult to treat. Not infrequently, patients with HIV die within a few days or weeks after starting TB therapy. That is what emphasizes the importance of HIV sufferers must immediately check TB, so that it can be handled more quickly.
What are the signs if people living with HIV experience TB?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there are some signs or symptoms of experiencing TB, namely:
- Phlegm cough or cough phlegm mixes blood which continues for 3 weeks or even more.
- Weight decreases.
- Fever, especially in the afternoon.
- Sweat can get soaked at night. This sweat is like wet rain.
- Swollen glands, generally swollen glands in the neck.
Coughing must also be watched out, because TB bacteria that attack the lungs can also cause these symptoms.
What tests do people with HIV need to undergo TB checks?
There are three general tests for TB that can be done, namely:
- Tuberculin Skin Test (TST), also known as the Mantoux test
- Chest X-rays
- Sputum test
These three tests can detect whether someone has an active TB infection or not, or is not infected with TB at all aka clean.
What if the result is negative for TB?
Some people with HIV infection will have a negative TB test result, even though they are actually infected with TB germs. This is because the immune system that causes the test reaction does not work properly. People with HIV who have a negative TB test usually require further medical examinations, especially if they experience symptoms of TB.
What if the result is active TB?
Like the case of HIV, TB must also be treated with a combination of drugs. If the results of the examination do show that there is active TB, your doctor will usually give certain drugs.
Taking HIV and TB drugs at the same time can increase the risk of drug interactions and side effects on health. Therefore, people treated for TB and HIV infection must be monitored very carefully by medical personnel.
There are 5 choices of drugs that are usually used in Indonesia, namely:
- Isoniazid (marked as INH or H)
- Rifampicin (R)
- Pirazinamid (Z)
- Ethambutol (E)
- Streptomycin (S)
Which choice is used depends on the patient's condition. For example, there are some drugs that cannot be used during pregnancy. You need to talk to your doctor about these medicines. In addition to the combination of the choice of drugs, pyridoxine pills will usually be given. Pyridoxine is vitamin B6 which is used to reduce the side effects of these TB drugs.
Then what if you find inactive TB bacteria?
If the TB test results show that there are TB bacteria but are still not active, there are ways to prevent them from becoming active quickly. Prophylactic administration is usually given by medical personnel. However, this prophylactic use must be first confirmed that TB in the body is not yet active. Prophylaxis cannot be immediately given before the condition of the TB bacteria is checked.
In addition to prophylaxis, prevention of active TB bacteria can be started from the environment. A clean environment, good air circulation, and enough light from the sun are needed to prevent the development of TB to become active in the body of PLWHA.
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