Patient Reported Delays in Seeking Treatment for Tuberculosis among Adult and Pediatric TB Patients and TB Patients Co-Infected with HIV in Lima, Peru: A Qualitative Study

Front Public Health. 2014 Dec 22;2:281. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00281. eCollection 2014.


Introduction: Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant public health challenge worldwide, and particularly in Peru with one of the highest incidence rates in Latin America. TB patient behavior has a direct influence on whether a patient will receive timely diagnosis and successful treatment of their illness.

Objectives: The objective was to understand the complex factors that can impact TB patient health seeking behavior.

Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with adult and parents of pediatric patients receiving TB treatment (n = 43), within that group a sub-group was also co-infected with HIV (n = 11).

Results: Almost all of the study participants recognized delays in seeking either their child's or their own diagnosis of their TB symptoms. The principal reasons for treatment-seeking delays were lack of knowledge and confusion of TB symptoms, fear and embarrassment of receiving a TB diagnosis, and a patient tendency to self-medicate prior to seeking formal medical attention.

Conclusion: Health promotion activities that target patient delays have the potential to improve individual patient outcomes and mitigate the spread of TB at a community level.

Keywords: HIV; Latin America; delayed diagnosis; qualitative research; tuberculosis.