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Tuberculosis Drug Susceptibility, Treatment, and Outcomes for Belarusian HIV-Positive Patients with Tuberculosis: Results from a National and International Laboratory

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Background: To cure drug-resistant (DR) tuberculosis (TB), the antituberculous treatment should be guided by Mycobacterium tuberculosis drug-susceptibility testing (DST). In this study, we compared conventional DST performed in Minsk, Belarus, a TB DR high-burden country, with extensive geno- and phenotypic analyses performed at the WHO TB Supranational Reference Laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark, for TB/HIV coinfected patients. Subsequently, DST results were related to treatment regimen and outcome.

Methods: Thirty TB/HIV coinfected patients from Minsk were included and descriptive statistics applied.

Results: Based on results from Minsk, 10 (33%) TB/HIV patients had drug-sensitive TB. Two (7%) had isoniazid monoresistant TB, 8 (27%) had multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB, 5 (17%) preextensive drug-resistant (preXDR) TB, and 5 (17%) had extensive drug-resistant (XDR) TB. For the first-line drugs rifampicin and isoniazid, there was DST agreement between Minsk and Copenhagen for 90% patients. For the second-line anti-TB drugs, discrepancies were more pronounced. For 14 (47%) patients, there were disagreements for at least one drug, and 4 (13%) patients were classified as having MDR-TB in Minsk but were classified as having preXDR-TB based on DST results in Copenhagen. Initially, all patients received standard anti-TB treatment with rifampicin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol. However, this was only suitable for 40% of the patients based on DST. On average, DR-TB patients were changed to 4 (IQR 3-5) active drugs after 1.5 months (IQR 1-2). After treatment adjustment, the treatment duration was 8 months (IQR 2-11). Four (22%) patients with DR-TB received treatment for >18 months. In total, sixteen (53%) patients died during 24 months of follow-up.

Conclusions: We found high concordance for rifampicin and isoniazid DST between the Minsk and Copenhagen laboratories, whereas discrepancies for second-line drugs were more pronounced. For patients with DR-TB, treatment was often insufficient and relevant adjustments delayed. This example from Minsk, Belarus, underlines two crucial points in the management of DR-TB: the urgent need for implementation of rapid molecular DSTs and availability of second-line drugs in all DR-TB high-burden settings. Carefully designed individualized treatment regimens in accordance with DST patterns will likely improve patients' outcome and reduce transmission with drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTuberculosis research and treatment
Pages (from-to)6646239
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 65483185