Background: Mounting prevalence of primary and acquired multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in India is a sorry reminder of all round failure in our fight against tuberculosis and also of the necessity for new effective strategies.
Objectives: (1) To assess the prevalence and pattern of drug resistant pulmonary tuberculosis among treated patients or on those on treatment without adequate response and (2) to evaluate HIV seropositivity among MDR-TB patients.
Methods: Pulmonary TB patients, who had at least six months of unsuccessful anti-tuberculous treatment were selected for the study. Their sputum specimens were examined for M. tuberculosis culture and drug sensitivity pattern and serological examinations for HIV infection were carried out.
Results: Sputum specimens of 618 patients' (61.8%) of a total of 1000 examined had shown culturable M. tuberculosis. Four hundred ninty-five patients (49.5%) were found to expectorate tubercle bacilli resistant to one or more anti TB drugs. MDR-TB was detected in 339 patients (33.9%). HIV seropositivity among MDR-TB was 4.42%. Significantly, 245 patients (24.5%) had tubercle bacilli resistant to one or more reserve drugs too (ethionamide, kanamycin and/or ofloxacin).
Conclusions: Prevalence of MDR-TB was high in the study population. It is essentially an acquired condition. Its association with HIV disease was at present on the lower side, an observation contrary to published western literature. Higher rates of resistance for reserve drugs (ethionamide, kanamycin and/or ofloxacin) in patients who never had these drugs in their earlier treatment schedules suggest the possibility of emerging spontaneous drug resistant mutants.