The Côte d'Ivoire national HIV counseling and testing program for tuberculosis patients: implementation and analysis of epidemiologic data

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Objectives:To describe the implementation of a free, voluntary and confidential HIV counseling and testing program for patients with newly diagnosed tuberculosis at the eight large outpatient tuberculosis centers in Côte d'Ivoire, and to present epidemiologic findings on participating patients.Design:HIV counseling and testing program with ongoing HIV serosurveillance.Methods:HIV counseling and testing services were established at the two tuberculosis centers in Abidjan in 1989 and were extended to six centers in the Côte d'Ivoire interior in the first half of 1994. Characteristics of counseled patients, acceptance rates of HIV testing, and HIV serologic results were analyzed for all eight centers from 1994 to 1996. Temporal trends in HIV seropositivity rates were examined for the two centers of Abidjan from 1989 to 1996.Results:From July 1994 through December 1996, 17 946 (91.8%) out of 19 594 patients who were counseled at the eight centers in Côte d'Ivoire consented to HIV testing, of whom 7749 (43.2%) were HIV-seropositive. The highest rates of 47.0 and 45.6% were found in the two centers in Abidjan, with rates ranging from 32.9 to 42.4% in the six centers in the interior. HIV-seropositive tuberculosis patients from each of the 50 districts in Côte d'Ivoire were identified. In Abidjan, the HIV seropositivity rate remained relatively stable among men (46.7% in 1989, 48.5% in 1991, 43.6% in 1996), but rose sharply among women from 32.7% in 1989 to 50.1% in 1996.Conclusions:The high HIV seropositivity rates among tuberculosis patients in all geographic regions of Côte d'Ivoire indicate that the HIV epidemic has now spread throughout the country. However, the successful implementation of an extensive HIV counseling and testing program for more than 37 000 tuberculosis patients to date demonstrates the commitment of the Côte d'Ivoire Ministry of Health to integrating HIV/AIDS prevention activities with tuberculosis control efforts. When logistically and economically feasible, the extension of HIV-related social and clinical services to HIV-seropositive tuberculosis patients should be considered by other national tuberculosis control programs in Africa.

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