Tuberculosis and HIV co-infection: a practical therapeutic approach

Drugs. 2006;66(18):2299-308. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200666180-00003.


HIV and tuberculosis (TB) are leading global causes of mortality and morbidity, and yet effective treatment exists for both conditions. Rifamycin-based antituberculosis therapy can cure HIV-related TB and, where available, the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has markedly reduced the incidence of AIDS and death. Optimal treatment regimens for HIV/TB co-infection are not yet clearly defined. Combinations are limited by alterations in the activity of the hepatic cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme system, which in particular may produce subtherapeutic plasma concentrations of antiretroviral drugs. For example, protease inhibitors often must be avoided if the potent CYP inducer rifampicin is co-administered. However, an alternative rifamycin, rifabutin, which has similar efficacy to rifampicin, can be used with appropriate dose reduction. Available clinical data suggest that, for the majority of individuals, rifampicin-based regimens can be successfully combined with the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors nevirapine and efavirenz. Most available HAART regimens in areas that have a high burden of TB contain one or the other of these drugs as a backbone. However, significant questions remain as to the optimal dose of either agent required to ensure therapeutic plasma concentrations, especially in relation to particular ethnic groups. The timing of HAART initiation after starting antituberculosis therapy continues to be controversial. Debate centres upon whether early initiation of HAART increases the risk of paradoxical reactions (immune reconstitution-related events) and other adverse events, or whether delay greatly elevates the risk of disease progression. Further prospective clinical data are needed to help inform practice in this area.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Antitubercular Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antitubercular Agents / adverse effects
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Monitoring
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Protease Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Rifabutin / therapeutic use
  • Rifamycins / therapeutic use
  • Tuberculosis / complications
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antitubercular Agents
  • HIV Protease Inhibitors
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Rifamycins
  • Rifabutin