Tuberculosis (TB) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Co-Infection
TB and HIV Co-Infection TB is less common in Canada but it is the leading cause of death among people who are HIV positive worldwide. People infected with HIV are at a much higher risk to become sick with TB.
TB is a disease caused by TB germs (bacteria) called mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is usually found in the lungs but can affect any part of the body. TB is spread from person to person through the air. It can spread when someone sick with TB in the lungs coughs or sneezes.
You cannot get TB very easily. Close, prolonged or regular contact with someone who is sick with TB disease is needed to spread this germ. Latent TB infection may become TB disease
Most people who breathe in TB germs are able to stop them from growing. The body’s immune system traps the TB germs and keeps them inactive. This is called latent TB infection and these people:Do
- Do not feel sick / have no symptoms
- Cannot spread TB germs to others
- Have a positive skin test (Note: People with HIV may have a negative skin test even though they are infected with TB – speak with your doctor) May develop active TB disease later in life
- May develop active TB disease later in life Can take medications to prevent TB disease
TB germs become active and grow when the body’s immune system cannot stop the germs from growing.People with TB disease can be cured by taking TB
People with TB disease can be cured by taking TB antibiotics. Symptoms of TB disease include:
- Cough (lasting longer than 3 weeks)
- Coughing up blood
- Fever/ chills/ night sweats
- Feeling tired
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Human Immunodeficiency Virus is an infection that can make a person’s immune system weak. The later stage of HIV is called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV can be spread from person to person by four main ways:
- Having vaginal or anal sex without using a condom with someone who has HIV
- Sharing needles or using unclean tools for procedures such as tattooing From an untreated mother to her unborn, newborn, or
- From an untreated mother to her unborn, newborn, or breastfed baby
- From infected blood products
TB is less common in Canada but it is the leading cause of death among people who are HIV positive worldwide.People infected with HIV are at a much higher risk to become sick with TB.
- A person with untreated latent TB infection and HIV infection is 20-30 times more likely to develop active TB disease during his or her lifetime than someone without HIV infection.
- In people with latent TB infection, HIV infection is the strongest known risk factor for developing active TB disease.
You should always inform your healthcare providers of your HIV status. If you are HIV positive, get tested for TB. If you have TB infection or TB disease, get tested for HIV.
Speak to a Doctor About Treatment
TB medications work well to prevent and cure TB for people living with HIV. TB and HIV medication can be taken at the same time. All TB medication is free through Toronto Public Health.