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Research shows benefit of treating TB and HIV at the same time

A new study out of UCSF is showing that treating tuberculosis and HIV infections at the same time appears to be a life-saving strategy. As Erin Allday at the San Francisco Chronicle explains today:

Tuberculosis is the main cause of death among people with HIV and AIDS  worldwide, killing about 400,000 people every year. But how to best treat both  conditions has been unclear, because of worries about how the drugs will  interact and the burden that dual treatment puts on patients, who must take  dozens of pills every day with some grueling side effects.

The study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found  that patients whose immune systems have been most damaged by HIV benefited by  beginning antiretroviral drugs two weeks after starting TB treatment, instead of  waiting eight to 12 weeks, as is commonly done now. Those patients were 40 percent less likely to die or develop AIDS.

Later in the article, Stanford's Andrew Zolopa, MD, notes that the clinical approach to TB and HIV has been to "'get the active infection under control and  worry about HIV later,' and that's the wrong answer." But this study and two others appearing in the journal, Allday writes, "make it clear that patients are better off aggressively treating their HIV  infection soon after starting TB therapy."

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