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AIDS. 1999 Aug 20;13(12):1543-7.

Relapse and mortality among HIV-infected and uninfected patients with tuberculosis successfully treated with twice weekly directly observed therapy in rural South Africa.

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Centre for Epidemiological Research in South Africa, Medical Research Council, Durban.



To determine post-treatment relapse and mortality rates among HIV-infected and uninfected patients with tuberculosis treated with a twice-weekly drug regimen under direct observation (DOT).


Hlabisa, South Africa.


A group of 403 patients with tuberculosis (53% HIV infected) cured following treatment with isoniazid (H), rifampicin (R), pyrazinamide (Z) and ethambutol (E) given in hospital (median 17 days), followed by HRZE twice weekly to 2 months and HR twice weekly to 6 months in the community under DOT.


Relapses were identified through hospital readmission and 6-monthly home visits. Relapse (culture for Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and mortality given as rates per 100 person-years observation (PYO) stratified by HIV status and history of previous tuberculosis treatment.


Mean (SD) post-treatment follow-up was 1.2 (0.4) years (total PYO = 499); 78 patients (19%) left the area, 58 (14%) died, 248 (62%) remained well and 19 (5%) relapsed. Relapse rates in HIV-infected and uninfected patients were 3.9 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.5-6.3] and 3.6 (95% CI 1.1-6.1) per 100 PYO (P = 0.7). Probability of relapse at 18 months was estimated as 5% in each group. Mortality was four-fold higher among HIV-infected patients (17.8 and 4.4 deaths per 100 PYO for HIV-infected and uninfected patients, respectively; P<0.0001). Probability of survival at 24 months was estimated as 59% and 81%, respectively. We observed no increase in relapse or mortality among previously treated patients compared with new patients. A positive smear at 2 months did not predict relapse or mortality.


Relapse rates are acceptably low following successful DOT with a twice weekly rifampicin-containing regimen, irrespective of HIV status and previous treatment history. Mortality is substantially increased among HIV-infected patients even following successful DOT and this requires further attention.

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