Tuberculosis and HIV in people who inject drugs: evidence for action for tuberculosis, HIV, prison and harm reduction services

Getahun, Haileyesusa; Gunneberg, Christiana; Sculier, Delphinea; Verster, Annetteb; Raviglione, Marioa

Current Opinion in HIV & AIDS: July 2012 - Volume 7 - Issue 4 - p 345–353
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e328354bd44
INJECTING DRUG USE AND HIV: Edited by Lisa Maher and Nick Walsh

Purpose of review: To provide a comprehensive summary of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV-related tuberculosis (TB) in people who inject drugs (PWIDs), and recommend actions to enhance the clinical and programmatic responses to the epidemic.

Recent findings: People who live with HIV and inject drugs have a 2–6-fold increased risk of developing TB compared with noninjectors, and commonly have comorbidities with hepatitis B (HBV) and C viral (HCV) infection. Among PWIDs who develop TB, at least one in three will also have HIV and two out of three will have HCV antibodies. They are also at increased risk of criminalization and incarceration. The risk of TB disease in prisons is on average 23 times higher than the level in the general population. Key recent developments to address HIV-related TB among PWIDs include the use of simplified symptom-based algorithm to provide isoniazid-preventive therapy, molecular DNA detection methods for Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the immediate provision of antiretroviral therapy within the first 2 weeks of initiation of anti-TB treatment.

Summary: Addressing the challenge posed by HIV-associated TB among PWIDs requires a systematic and integrated response to viral hepatitis and incarceration-related health issues, in addition to ensuring HIV and TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment as core components of harm reduction services. Regionally tailored measures, taking into consideration the epidemiology of these comorbidities, the policy and programmatic environment, and the infrastructure of the health system are needed.

aStop TB Department

bDepartment of HIV/AIDS, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland

Correspondence to Haileyesus Getahun, Stop TB Department, WHO 20, Avenue Appia CH-1211, Geneva 27, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 791 18 62; fax: +41 22 791 15 89; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.