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BREAKTHROUGH: New method to spot TB in HIV patients

A study conducted in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand has resulted in a new, more effective method of screening for tuberculosis in HIV patients who don’t show traditional symptoms, a medical expert said. Sara Whitehead, from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Southeast Asia, said on Tuesday that researchers had come up with a series of questions that would allow doctors to diagnose more than double the number of cases identified through the current system. Whereas the existing process for screening HIV sufferers for TB involves asking patients questions about chronic cough, the new process involves questions about a combination of symptoms, including cough of any duration, fever of any duration and night sweats. “We think that the old approach to screening only identified about a third of people with TB. Using the new approach will hopefully identify more like two-thirds and eventually it should be more like 80 percent,” she said. Whitehead explained that TB is particularly problematic in HIV sufferers, because they often don’t show traditional symptoms, making it harder to detect.

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