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


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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