Delay in seeking care for tuberculosis symptoms among adults newly diagnosed with HIV in rural Malawi

Abstract

SETTING Ten primary health clinics in rural Thyolo District, Malawi. OBJECTIVE Tuberculosis (TB) is a common initial presentation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. We investigated the time from TB symptom onset to HIV diagnosis to describe TB health-seeking behaviour in adults newly diagnosed with HIV. DESIGN We asked adults (18 years) about the presence and duration of TB symptoms at the time of receiving a new HIV diagnosis. Associations with delayed health seeking (defined as >30 and >90 days from the onset of TB symptoms) were evaluated using multivariable logistic regression. RESULTS TB symptoms were reported by 416 of 1265 participants (33%), of whom 36% (150/416) had been symptomatic for >30 days before HIV testing. Most participants (260/416, 63%) were below the poverty line (US$0.41 per household member per day). Patients who first sought care from informal providers had an increased odds of delay of >30 days (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.6, 95%CI 0.9-2.8) or 90 days (aOR 2.0, 95%CI 1.1-3.8). CONCLUSIONS Delayed health seeking for TB-related symptoms was common. Poverty was ubiquitous, but had no clear relationship to diagnostic delay. HIV-positive individuals who first sought care from informal providers were more likely to experience diagnostic delays for TB symptoms.

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