n South African Medical Journal - Prolonged deferral of antiretroviral therapy in the SAPIT trial : did we need a clinical trial to tell us that this would increase mortality? : forum

Volume 100, Issue 9
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Tuberculosis is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected patients in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV infection is often first diagnosed following a diagnosis of tuberculosis, with many patients needing antiretroviral therapy (ART). Starting ART in HIV-infected patients with tuberculosis (TB) may be associated with complications, including side-effects from co-administration of multiple drugs with many overlapping toxicities, reductions in concentrations of certain antiretroviral drugs following the induction of metabolising enzymes and drug transporters by rifampicin, and paradoxical deterioration due to the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). Furthermore, the high pill burden of co-treatment could reduce adherence, resulting in poor treatment outcomes for both diseases. These potential harms must be weighed against the high mortality rates in patients with HIV-associated tuberculosis who do not receive ART, especially those with low CD4 counts. The optimal time to initiate ART in patients with tuberculosis is an important research question, and randomised controlled trials are addressing this issue.

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