The Impact of Tuberculosis Preventive Therapy on Tuberculosis and Death in HIV-Infected Children

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By: Aleesha Ye

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease that is mainly an infection of the lungs. It is caused by a bacterial microorganism called the tubercle bacillus or Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The problem with this disease is that scientists have never come close to wiping it out, making it one of the most distressing disease as it continues to claim many lives. One big concern is that children with HIV are at a higher risk of acquiring TB. Tuberculosis can cause acute and chronic respiratory disease and death in HIV-infected children, especially ones who live in places with high TB prevalence. Scientists are looking to find solutions to prevent the infection and disease in HIV-infected children. One potential solution is an anti-tuberculosis medication called Isoniazid, so two scientists set out to test this solution.

Scientists Young Gray and Zar Cotton set out to determine the impact of TB preventive therapy on incidence and death in HIV-infected children. They studied a group of HIV-infected children. One group is randomly selected to receive the TB preventive therapy with the Isoniazid medication, and the other is to receive a placebo. After several trials, Gray and Cotton saw a marked reduction in TB incidence and death in the isoniazid group. However, they concluded that there is no long-term evidence on using this product on HIV-infected children, and they could not make conclusions on the impact this medication had on children receiving antiretroviral therapy, a treatment that suppresses or stops a retrovirus.

However, their research is important because Isoniazid has potential in reducing TB incidence and death in HIV-infected children, and this sets a precedent for future research into using this medication to prevent children living in low TB prevalence areas who have not had known contact with TB or children who are receiving antiretroviral therapy to contract the disease.

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