Effects of the human immunodeficiency virus on tuberculosis in children

Tuber Lung Dis. 1996 Oct;77(5):437-43. doi: 10.1016/s0962-8479(96)90117-3.


Setting: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has altered the epidemiological and clinical profile of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide. In children however, unlike in adults, very little has been documented about the interaction between the two diseases.

Objective: To examine the clinical features and response to TB treatment in children with TB and HIV, and compare them with those with TB alone.

Design: A prospectively enrolled case study with systematically selected controls was conducted between 1992 and 1994 at King George V tuberculosis hospital, in Durban. Forty children with TB and HIV (Group A) were compared with 40 children with TB alone (Group B). The diagnosis of TB was made in accordance with established criteria. Measures of comparison between the groups included: history of contact with a TB case, clinical presentation on admission, presence of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) scar, reaction to tuberculin test, clinical response to anti-tuberculosis treatment (mean weight gain per month, improved appetite, resolution of chest signs, decreasing size of visceromegaly), radiological response to treatment (assessed according to an objective score on admission, at 6 months and on discharge), other associated diseases, nosocomial infections and survival.

Results: The mean age of the children in Group A was 25 months and in Group B 31 months. The clearest differences between the groups on admission were clinical features and response to tuberculin testing. Group A were more frequently anergic to tuberculin testing (P < 0.0001) and more often had symptoms and signs suggestive of TB (P = 0.002). Clinical response to treatment on discharge was worse in Group A than in Group B (P = 0.005). Radiological response to treatment at six months and on discharge was poorer in Group A than in Group B (P = 0.46; P = 0.006, respectively). Six children in group A and none in group B died (P = 0.012). The mean duration of treatment (and therefore period until discharge) was 8.9 months in Group B and 8.5 months in Group A for those who survived. History of contact, evidence of BCG inoculation and nosocomial infections were similar in both groups.

Conclusion: HIV infection adversely affects the outcome of TB in children as assessed by response to treatment and survival.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*