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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Experts assist in TB-Aids fight
Image of TB
TB is currently more difficult to diagnose in people with HIV
Chemistry professors at the University of Wales, Bangor, are helping to develop a cost-effective test for people with HIV-Aids and tuberculosis.

It is hoped the test could be used to diagnose sufferers in South Africa, where there is a pandemic of people infected with both illnesses.

TB is one of the diseases which often infects people with HIV, because of their weakened immune systems.

The disease is also more difficult to diagnose in those with HIV.

According to the World Health Organisation website, HIV and TB form a lethal combination, each speeding the other's progress.

HIV weakens the immune system. Someone who is HIV-positive and infected with TB is many times more likely to become sick with TB than someone infected with TB who is HIV-negative.

TB is a leading cause of death among people who are HIV-positive, it says on the website. In Africa, HIV is the single most important factor contributing to the increase in incidence of TB since 1990.

Professors Mark Baird and Maher Kalaji from Bangor's school of chemistry were picked for their particular fields of expertise by Professor Jan Verschoor from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

If you visit the clinics you will see the misery that is caused by this combination
Prof Jan Verschoor

Prof Verschoor is hoping that together they can develop "a rapid and cost-effective test" that will be used by health workers worldwide to screen for TB among HIV burdened populations.

The prototype testing device could be developed within three years, he said.

Currently people with both TB and Aids have an estimated life expectancy of around four weeks in comparison to 10 years if they had HIV alone, Prof Verschoor explained.

The pandemic of people with both in South Africa has reduced the average life expectancy by 10 years since the year 2000.

"Sometimes we visit mining institutions in which almost everyone is affected," said Prof Verschoor.

"The incidents of TB combined with HIV is very high there, and if you visit the clinics you will see the misery that is caused by this combination."

Prof Verschoor said that people with Aids who were given anti-viral treatments to fight it could go into anaphylactic shock if they also had TB.

He said the time TB tests took to come back needed to speed up so that correct treatment plans for both illnesses could be implemented.

Prof Verschoor will be working in Bangor until Christmas and has received a Commonwealth Fellowship award from the British Council to fund his stay.

TB emergency declared in Africa
25 Aug 05 |  Africa

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