Objectives: To evaluate the strength of the association between tuberculosis and HIV infection in Italy, to assess the pattern of this association in relation to HIV transmission categories, and to describe clinical presentation of tuberculosis in a large group of Italian HIV-infected subjects.
Design: Multicentre review of clinical records.
Setting: Twenty-one infectious disease hospital units in nine of the 20 administrative regions of Italy.
Patients, participants: All HIV-infected adults observed by each participating unit (in- and outpatients) between 1985 and 1989.
Main outcome measure: Culture-proven tuberculosis.
Results: A total of 306 cases of tuberculosis were observed. Of these, 85 were pulmonary, 167 extrapulmonary, and 54 both pulmonary and extrapulmonary. The proportion of HIV-infected subjects diagnosed with tuberculosis increased during the study period from three out of 1380 (0.2%) in 1985 to 152 out of 6504 subjects (2.3%) in 1989 (P less than 0.0001). Two hundred and twenty-six of the 2760 (8.19%) patients with AIDS had tuberculosis within 12 months of AIDS diagnosis; the proportion of AIDS patients with tuberculosis remained stable after 1985. Compared with AIDS patients who were intravenous drug users, only homosexual AIDS patients had a significantly lower proportion of tuberculosis (178 out of 1958 versus 30 out of 522; P less than 0.02).
Conclusions: Our data show that tuberculosis is quite common among HIV-infected subjects in Italy, and suggest that the risk of tuberculosis in these subjects has not changed. There are some differences between the pattern of the association between tuberculosis and HIV infection in Italy, compared with other industrialized countries.