New Delhi: Nearly half of the 2.4 million
people living with HIV/AIDS in the country contract
tuberculosis, making it the leading cause of death, yet less
than five per cent of them are automatically tested for TB, a
new study shows.
The study conducted by the NGO INP+ with support from
ACTION (Advocacy to Control TB Internationally) also found
almost a third of the population surveyed also reported paying
for their medications, indicating an incomplete reach and
awareness of the free national TB control programme -- RNTCP.
The study highlights both patient-end and provider-end
causes for delays in getting appropriate TB diagnosis and
treatment initiated and in testing for the disease among
HIV/AIDS patients, which comes to less than five percent.
Ten per cent of the survey participants reported stopping
their treatments for a week or more. Incomplete treatment
adherence raises the risk of multi-drug resistant TB for the
individual and in the community.
Lack of awareness and knowledge about TB ranks high
among the patient-end causes for delay in seeking appropriate
TB diagnosis and treatment services.
Distance to the nearest TB service delivery point is a
key barrier from the provider-end, with average travel times
exceeding 90 minutes for over half of the population surveyed.
"People living with HIV/AIDS are among the most
vulnerable to getting TB infections. Any delay in this
vulnerable population getting life-saving TB treatments is
also indicative of broad systemic issues of accessibility that
need to be addressed quickly," said Dr Venkatesan Chakrapani,
MD, the lead researcher on this study from INP+.