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  • INTRODUCTION: Tuberculosis (TB) is a leading cause of mortality among people living with HIV (PLHIV). An invigorated global END TB Strategy seeks to increase efforts in scaling up TB preventive therapy (TPT) as a central intervention for HIV programmes in an effort to contribute to a 90% reduction in TB incidence and 95% reduction in mortality by 2035. TPT in PLHIV should be part of a comprehensive approach to reduce TB transmission, illness and death that also includes TB active case-finding and prompt, effective and timely initiation of anti-TB therapy among PLHIV. However, the use and implementation of preventive strategies has remained deplorably inadequate and today TB prevention among PLHIV has become an urgent priority globally. DISCUSSION: We present a summary of the current and novel TPT regimens, including current evidence of use with antiretroviral regimens (ART). We review challenges and opportunities to scale-up TB prevention within HIV programmes, including the use of differentiated care approaches and demand creation for effective TB/HIV services delivery. TB preventive vaccines and diagnostics, including optimal algorithms, while important topics, are outside of the focus of this commentary. CONCLUSIONS: A number of new tools and strategies to make TPT a standard of care in HIV programmes have become available. The new TPT regimens are safe and effective and can be used with current ART, with attention being paid to potential drug-drug interactions between rifamycins and some classes of antiretrovirals. More research and development is needed to optimize TPT for small children, pregnant women and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). Effective programmatic scale-up can be supported through context-adapted demand creation strategies and the inclusion of TPT in client-centred services, such as differentiated service delivery (DSD) models. Robust collaboration between the HIV and TB programmes represents a unique opportunity to ensure that TB, a preventable and curable condition, is no longer the number one cause of death in PLHIV.
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  • Little is known about the barriers to post-exposure management of rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (RR-TB) in older children and adolescents. We report on implementation lessons from a pilot programme targeting household-exposed individuals aged 6–18 years in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Barriers included misperceptions regarding risk of exposure, multiple research and implementation stakeholders, additional workload for an overburdened healthcare system, logistical issues faced by families, and insufficient human and financial resources. Solutions to these barriers are possible, but creativity and persistence are required. Our experience can guide others looking to roll-out care for children and adolescents exposed to RR-TB.
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  • We sought to compare the effectiveness of two WHO-recommended regimens for the treatment of rifampin- or multidrug-resistant (RR/MDR) tuberculosis: a standardised regimen of 9-12 months (the "shorter regimen"), and individualised regimens of ≥20 months ("longer regimens").We collected individual patient data from observational studies identified through systematic reviews and a public call for data. We included patients meeting WHO eligibility criteria for the shorter regimen: not previously treated with second-line drugs, and with fluoroquinolone- and second-line injectable agent-susceptible RR/MDR tuberculosis. We used propensity score matched, mixed-effects meta-regression to calculate adjusted odds ratios and adjusted risk differences (aRD) for failure or relapse, death within 12 months of treatment initiation, and loss to follow-up.We included 2625/3378 (77.7%) individuals from 9 studies of shorter regimens, and 2717/13104 (20.7%) from 53 studies of longer regimens. Treatment success was higher with the shorter regimen than with longer regimens (pooled proportions: 80.0% versus 75.3%), due to less loss to follow-up with the former (aRD, -0.15 95%CI: -0.17 to -0.12). The risk difference for failure or relapse was slightly higher with the shorter regimen overall (0.02, 95%CI: 0 to 0.05), and greater in magnitude with baseline resistance to pyrazinamide (0.12, 95%CI: 0.07 to 0.16), prothionamide/ethionamide (0.07, 95%CI: -0.01 to 0.16), or ethambutol (0.09, 95%CI: 0.04 to 0.13).In patients meeting WHO criteria for its use, the standardised shorter regimen was associated with substantially less loss to follow-up during treatment as compared to individualised longer regimens, and with more failure/relapse in the presence of resistance to component medications. Our findings support the need to improve access to reliable drug susceptibility testing.
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  • Reducing diagnostic delay is key towards decreasing tuberculosis-associated deaths in people living with HIV. In tuberculosis patients with retrospective urine testing, the point-of-care Fujifilm SILVAMP TB LAM (FujiLAM) could have rapidly diagnosed tuberculosis in up to 89% who died. In FujiLAM negative patients, the probability of 12-week survival was 86-97%.
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  • Background The conflict in Syria has required humanitarian agencies to implement primary-level services for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jordan, given the high NCD burden amongst Syrian refugees; and to integrate mental health and psychosocial support into NCD services given their comorbidity and treatment interactions. However, no studies have explored the mental health needs of Syrian NCD patients. This paper aims to examine the interaction between physical and mental health of patients with NCDs at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic in Irbid, Jordan, in the context of social suffering. Methods This qualitative study involved sixteen semi-structured interviews with Syrian refugee and Jordanian patients and two focus groups with Syrian refugees attending MSF’s NCD services in Irbid, and eighteen semi-structured interviews with MSF clinical, managerial and administrative staff. These were conducted by research staff in August 2017 in Irbid, Amman and via Skype. Thematic analysis was used. Results Respondents describe immense suffering and clearly perceived the interconnectedness of their physical wellbeing, mental health and social circumstances, in keeping with Kleinman’s theory of social suffering. There was a ‘disconnect’ between staff and patients’ perceptions of the potential role of the NCD and mental health service in alleviating this suffering. Possible explanations identified included respondent’s low expectations of the ability of the service to impact on the root causes of their suffering, normalisation of distress, the prevailing biomedical view of mental ill-health among national clinicians and patients, and humanitarian actors’ own cultural standpoints. Conclusion NCD patients recognised the psychological dimensions of their illness but may not utilize clinic-based humanitarian mental health and psychosocial support services. Humanitarian agencies must engage with NCD patients to elicit their needs and design culturally relevant services.
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