Fall seen in number of heterosexual HIV patients with TB in England and Wales

Public health investigators recently reported a sharp drop in the incidence of tuberculosis among HIV-positive heterosexuals living in England and Wales.

The decline, which began in 2002 and continued to the end of the survey in 2010, is attributed to changes in HIV epidemiology in the United Kingdom and an increase in the use of antiretroviral medication, according to

"Our findings reinforce the need for stricter implementation of existing testing guidelines in the HIV and tuberculosis clinic setting, and support the recommendation for primary care practitioners to consider the risk of both diseases in migrant patients from high prevalence countries," the investigators wrote, reports.

The investigators said that most heterosexual HIV cases in the United Kingdom are found in those born in sub-Saharan Africa, where there is also a high incidence of TB. As a result, a substantial number of heterosexuals with HIV have been exposed to TB.

The U.K. Health Protection Agency recommended that those with HIV be tested for TB as well. Rates of HIV patients with concurrent TB infection remain unknown in the United Kingdom.

"Active tuberculosis may have been prevented in some cases had testing and treatment for latent tuberculosis been a routine part of the initial assessment at the time of HIV diagnosis," the authors said, reports.