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Isolation of mycobacteria from patients seropositive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in south east England: 1984-92.
  1. M D Yates,
  2. A Pozniak,
  3. J M Grange
  1. Public Health Laboratory Service, South East Regional Tuberculosis Centre, Dulwich Hospital, London.


    BACKGROUND--Tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infections are well recognised complications of HIV infection and surveillance is thus required. METHODS--All mycobacteria isolated from HIV positive subjects and referred to the Public Health Laboratory Service South East Regional Tuberculosis Centre (SERTC) from the first such case in 1984 until the end of 1992 were reviewed. RESULTS--A total of 803 mycobacteria isolated from 727 HIV positive subjects were referred to the SERTC during the study period. A single species was isolated from 660 patients: 150 members of the tuberculosis complex (146 M tuberculosis, two M bovis, and two M africanum), 356 M avium-intracellulare (MAI), and 154 other environmental mycobacteria. More than one mycobacterium was isolated from 67 patients. In 12 cases M tuberculosis and MAI were isolated from the same patient, almost always in that sequence, with an interval of 8-41 months between isolations. Most of the 407 isolates of MAI (74%) were considered to be clinically significant and often caused disseminated disease. In other cases single isolates of MAI were obtained from sputum or faeces and occasionally such isolates preceded disseminated disease by several months. Only 33 (14%) of the 229 isolates of environmental mycobacteria other than MAI were considered clinically significant. CONCLUSIONS--HIV related mycobacterial disease is increasing in incidence in south east England. Further studies are required to determine the significance of single isolates of MAI and other environmental mycobacteria as a guide to the need for preventive chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

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