Setting: A gold mining company in the Free State Province, South Africa.
Aim and design: A retrospective cohort study to investigate factors associated with an increased case-fatality rate (CFR) at 6 months in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive and negative tuberculosis (TB) patients.
Results: Between April 1993 and March 1997, there were 2236 men with culture-confirmed pulmonary TB in whom HIV status and treatment outcome were known. The overall CFR within the first 6 months of therapy was low (3.6%). After adjusting for confounding factors, HIV infection (OR 15.0, 95%CI 7.4-30.6), self-presentation compared to detection by the active radiological screening programme (OR 5.6, 95%CI 2.6-12.2) and presence of silicosis (OR 3.0, 95%CI 1.4-6.3) were significantly associated with an increased CFR. Opportunistic infections accounted for 56.2% (36/64) of deaths in HIV-positive men. Cryptococcal disease accounted for 75% (27/36) of deaths from opportunistic infections.
Conclusion: HIV infection and silicosis are both powerful risk factors for TB and are associated with an increased risk of death. Strategies aimed at reducing these two risk factors within the workforce could reduce TB incidence and mortality. In settings with functional DOTS programmes and sufficient resources, expanding the DOTS programme to include active case detection should be explored as a means of reducing TB prevalence and mortality.