Predictors of delay in the diagnosis and treatment of suspected tuberculosis in HIV co-infected patients in South Africa


Otwombe, K. N.; Variava, E.; Holmes, C. B.; Chaisson, R. E.; Martinson, N.


The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Volume 17, Number 9, 1 September 2013, pp. 1199-1205(7) DOI:


SETTING: In South Africa, the majority of tuberculosis (TB) patients are co-infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and delays in diagnosis and treatment likely exacerbate morbidity and mortality.

OBJECTIVE: To determine predictors of delays in the diagnosis and treatment of hospitalised suspected pulmonary TB patients co-infected with HIV.

DESIGN: Post-analysis of data collected in a three-centre prospective cohort of in-patients clinically diagnosed with active TB in three hospitals in South Africa between 2006 and 2009 during the first 24 h of admission. Delay was assessed by asking time of first symptoms and any prior health-seeking behaviour for this episode of illness.

Results: Data from a total of 891 participants with a median age of 36 years and a CD4 count of 67 cells/mm3 were analysed. Median patient, system and total delays were respectively 28, 1 and 28 days. Unemployment, treatment at Tshepong Hospital, alcohol consumption, crowding index, seeking prior treatment, cotrimoxazole treatment and WHO Stage 4 disease predicted prolonged total delay.

Conclusion: Patient delay in seeking care for TB in this high HIV prevalence setting is substantial. Factors identified with delay could be used to develop interventions to improve care seeking and earlier diagnosis of TB.

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