TB and HIV data needed for diagnosis

Viet Nam needs to set up a system to obtain data for research of tuberculosis so the disease can be diagnosed as early as possible, according to an epidemiologist and professor from the University of Texas.

Speaking at a training workshop o­n HIV research and prevention, Lu-Yu Hwang, professor of epidemiology and disease control at the University of Texas in Houston, said that even though TB was an old problem more people taking multiple drugs were becoming resistant to drugs prescribed for TB.


With such a scenario, there was a need for better data about the population and better coordination between research and laboratories, she said.


Vietnamese health officials have raised the issue recently, citing the increasing number of TB cases, especially among people with HIV/AIDS.


Treatment for people with both TB and HIV is difficult because of the patients’ low immunity and multi-drug resistance.


TB is a serious problem since the air-borne disease can spread easily without contact. In the world, as many as 2 billion, or o­ne-third of the world’s population, suffer from TB. Every year about 8.9 million more people are infected with TB. Twelve per cent of the new adult cases are HIV carriers and about 1.8 million people die of TB every year.


Dr. Edward Graviss, associate professor of the American Baylor College of Medicine, said that timing was the key element to the treatment of TB, with early diagnosis crucial to prevent and control the disease.


In Viet Nam and some other Asian countries, like China, some physicians have the inaccurate perception that TB vaccinations in early childhood can prevent a person from contracting TB while in fact the vaccine’s potency wanes over time, according to the doctor.


In his presentation yesterday, Graviss also spoke with 80 medical workers at the districts’ clinics for HIV/AIDS prevention and control in HCM City and other neighbouring provinces about the latest testing for fast TB diagnoses in the US.


Throughout the five-day workshop that opened here o­n Monday, participants will learn about different research methods in epidemiology, biostatistics and behavioural research.


The workshop, organised by Ngoc Tam Hospital, the University of Texas School of Public Health and the HCM City AIDS Committee, is a follow-up to a similar programme last year in Ha Noi.


Palmer Beasley, professor of epidemiology and disease control at the University of Texas, said this annual event was part of a long-term programme of the university’s Centre for International Training and Research to educate and train outstanding Vietnamese health professionals for public health research careers in HIV and HIV-related issues.