Tuberculosis in Hiv-Infected Tanzanian children below 14 years

  • JC Njau
  • S Aboud
Keywords: Tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus, children, Dar es Salaam and Tanzania


  Objective: Tuberculosis (TB)-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection is an important public health problem. Diagnosis of TB in children usually follows discovery of an adult case, and relies on clinical presentation, sputum examination and chest radiograph. However, clinical features are non-specific, chest radiographs are difficult to interpret, and routine laboratory tests are not helpful. The aim of the current study was to determine the prevalence of TB in HIV-infected children below 14 years attending a tertiary hospital.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in HIV-infected children below 14 years of age at Muhimbili National Hospital, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, between July 2008 and January 2009. Information on socio-demographic and anthropometric characteristics was collected using a structured questionnaire. Following assessment of clinical presentation, physical examination, tuberculin skin test, and chest radiograph were performed for each child. Two consecutive sputum specimens and blood sample were collected for microscopy and culture, and CD4 T-lymphocyte percentage test, respectively. Chi-square test was used to compare differences in proportions. Odds ratio (OR) and their 95% confidence interval (CI) are presented as the risk estimator.

Results: Of 182 HIV-infected children enrolled in the study, 104 (57.1%) were males. Overall, thirty-seven (20.3%) children had TB. The prevalence of TB was highest in males (78.4%) compared to females (p=0.003). There was a higher proportion of TB (45.9%) in the age group below 24 months compared to other age groups (p=0.001). Male gender, history of positive TB contact and severe immunosuppression were found to be significant risk factors for TB while use of antiretroviral therapy was found to be associated with decreased risk for TB.

Conclusions: One-fifth of children had TB/HIV co-infection. Presence of four or more clinical manifestations and a low CD4+ T-lymphocyte percentage can be used to predict active TB in HIV-infected children.

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eISSN: 0856-8960