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HIV testing rates and co-infection among patients with tuberculosis in south-eastern Sydney, 2008–2013

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The association between HIV infection and tuberculosis (TB) is well recognised, and the rationale for offering a routine HIV test to all people with TB has been presented previously.1 Recent clinical trials found that commencing antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection before the completion of TB therapy is associated with improved survival, and treatment should be commenced simultaneously for HIV and TB in people with co-infection and a CD4 T-cell count less than 50 cells/mm3.2,3 These recent clinical end point data reinforce the patient benefit of being tested for HIV infection when diagnosed with TB.

In Australia, HIV testing was undertaken in 76%–81% of patients with TB between 2008 and 2010.4,5 In 2010, 3.4% of patients with TB with a known HIV test outcome were reported as testing positive for HIV.5

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) is a NSW Health district with a population of more than 800 000 people, and is an area of relatively high HIV prevalence and incidence in Australia.6 The district has four publicly funded chest clinics for the management of TB. At 53%, the rate of HIV testing among…