HIV TB cases up

Statistics from the Ministry of Health are showing a steady increase in the number of tuberculosis cases among HIV-infected persons in Jamaica.

However, the overall number of cases of tuberculosis remains consistent.

This was revealed at a mini-symposium, “Tuberculosis: an Old Scourge with a New Face”, held at the National Chest Hospital in the Corporate Area yesterday.

Dr. Mikael Tulloch-Reid, senior medical officer of the National Chest Hospital, told The Gleaner that even though the statistics show that the number of tuberculosis cases relativity remains in the same region, the Pan American Health Organisation strongly suspects that the figures are higher.

Even though the number of tuberculosis cases have been increasing among HIV patients, Dr. Terry Baker, consultant pulmonologist at the National Chest Hospital and organiser of the symposium, is still raising concern about the figures.

“If there are six out of every 10 HIV-infected persons who do not know they are infected, chances are there are many more persons with tuberculosis that are not accounted for in the figures,” Dr. Baker said.

“Persons infected with HIV are more at risk of contracting the disease so it is important for them to get tested,” he added.

The statistics showed that the parish of St James accounts for the most cases of co-infected persons (persons living with HIV and tuberculosis).

Dr. Baker surmised that this could be due to the prevalence of sex workers in the busy tourist area of Montego Bay.