Advances in Tb diagnosis

Tuberculosis (Tb) is the number one killer of patients with HIV.  An ancient disease, Tb was nearly eliminated until the HIV epidemic when millions of people became more susceptible to this devastating infection because of the destruction of the immune system that marks HIV infection.  Tb is one of the hardest infections to diagnose and is even harder in HIV patients. 

 

Improving the detection of Tb has been a high priority for the World Health Organization (WHO) and all involved in the care of HIV patients.  Some exciting technology has been developed which can dramatically increase the ability to detect Tb in HIV patients.  Through help from African Mission Healthcare Foundation, God’s Economy, Becton Dickinson (BD) and individual donors, PIH now has one of the best Tb labs in the country.


GeneXpert (Real-time PCR)

BD MGIT (Automated Liquid Tb Culture)
 

The GeneXpert instrument uses what is called “real-time PCR” to detect the DNA of Tb and can increase the detection rate four-fold over traditional microscopic techniques.  At PIH, we have conducted over 500 tests with this instrument and have detected many Tb cases that would have otherwise been untreated.  Click here to read more about WHO's endorsement of this technology.

 

Tb culture is the “gold standard” for detecting Tb and looking for drug-resistant strains.  Traditional methods for Tb culture take over 8 weeks to get results.  Often this is too long to impact treatment decisions for HIV patients, as they may die waiting for the test results.  Becton Dickinson (BD) has developed an automated liquid culture that can decrease that wait time to 2 weeks.  The BD Bactec MGIT will be a valuable tool for diagnosis of Tb and will be critical to conducting important Tb research at PIH.

 

Thanks to Jon, Brent, Crickett, Mark, Kathy and many others for making this possible!