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Tuberculosis can be deadly if left untreated and you are HIV positive

By Faeza
12 May 2017

BY  Clement Fana Ntuli

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is an infectious bacterial disease. There are two types of tuberculosis namely pulmonary and extra-pulmonary TB. Pulmonary TB affects the lungs whereas the extra-pulmonary TB is the tuberculosis that spreads to other body parts such as the spine and marrow. Tuberculosis is a curable condition; however, it is deadly if not treated accordingly.


It is important to note that tuberculosis is a separate disease. However, there is a lot of confusion regarding it. Many people assume that if a person has tuberculosis, it also means that they are HIV positive. This is not true. A person can have tuberculosis and

not have HIV and vice versa. Yet it must be noted that a person who is HIV

positive is more likely to develop tuberculosis due to his or her compromised immune system. TB is then considered as one of the opportunistic infections alongside pneumonia, shingles and meningitis. This is the reason why many people draw the conclusion that once you develop TB, you are also HIV positive.


Coughing for more than three weeks

Coughing blood

Weight loss

Night sweats

It is vital to go to a clinic or hospital once you see these symptoms.


While the symptoms may be an indication that you have contracted tuberculosis, it is important not to self diagnose. There are other conditions that have similar symptoms. If you suspect tuberculosis, it is important to go for a check-up. Tuberculosis can be tested through drawing sputum and samples are taken to the laboratory for tests.


Tuberculosis can be treated and cured. If it is discovered that one has TB, Directly Observed Treatment is administered for a period of six months. In cases where the TB is severe, the treatment can take about eight to nine months which may include an injection of streptomycin daily. It is important to adhere to the treatment programme and finish the course. If you do not adhere or finish your treatment, you will develop resistance and normal medication will not be effective in treating your TB. Then you will have multi-drug resistance (MDR-TB) or extreme-drug resistance tuberculosis (XDR –TB). Both the other types of tuberculosis are hard to treat and require a lot of attention. Ensure whenever you

take treatment, you receive a clearance of having cured tuberculosis before stopping taking treatment.


Many people discover that they are HIV positive simultaneously as they are diagnosed with tuberculosis. Delay in taking ARVs may lead to further compromising of the immune system. As a result, health practitioners decide to give both ARVs and TB medication simultaneously because it works. When I started my ARVs, I was also on TB and

pneumonia medication. I managed to treat TB and pneumonia while also boosting my immune system with the ARVs. Tuberculosis is one of the common opportunistic infections that one may develop when HIV positive. But it is curable. Stay alert of its symptoms and immediately visit the hospital for treatment. You will then be able to live

a healthy and long life with HIV.