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By Citizen Reporter


State of HIV and TB on pregnancy a cause of concern in Africa

TB is thought to be a major cause to the high levels of perinatal and maternal morbidity in Africa.

Africa Health said Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV infections during pregnancy is a global concern, with TB responsible for half a million deaths a year in Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that around 3.3 million women were infected with TB in 2020.

TB cause of perinatal and maternal morbidity in Africa

According to Africa Health, TB is thought to be a major factor contributing to the high levels of perinatal and maternal morbidity in Africa.

“People living with conditions that impair the immune system – like HIV – are at a higher risk of developing an active case of TB,” said Africa Health.

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A 2016 study revealed that HIV positive women are twice as likely to contract TB.

The changes to the immune system during pregnancy makes mothers more vulnerable to contracting new or latent TB infections.

“One study from 2016 found that TB prevalence among HIV-infected women at a Cape Town hospital sat at over 70% and, despite widespread availability, only 64% of pregnant women with both TB and HIV were using ART drugs.”

“Furthermore, among respondents tested in the study, only women with both TB and HIV displayed severe TB manifestations such as TB meningitis, TB pericarditis, abdominal TB and bacteraemia.”

However, TB and HIV specialist at Africa Health, Doctor Coceka Mnyani, said more research needs to be conducted to verify this.

Mnyani emphasised the importance of testing when mothers display symptoms associated with the two epidemics.

He also urged pregnant women to get treatment, clarifying that the TB and HIV treatments are not dangerous when giving birth or breastfeeding if taken properly.

Africa Health Exhibition

These concerns will be discussed at this year’s Africa Health Exhibition in Johannesburg in October.

A panel of obstetricians will discuss the solutions to improve maternal and infant health, including interventions around better screening diagnosis and treatment.

“Studies suggest that current TB screening methods may be inadequate. Enhanced TB screening algorithms could improve TB detection, which is crucial for HIV-positive pregnant women,” said Mnyani.

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