HIV, Tuberculosis: Highly Resistant, Almost Unbeatable, Diseases Killing Millions of Lives

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By Ryan Inoyori | August 29, 2013 1:27 PM EST

Tuberculosis is one of the diseases most highly associated to people affected by poverty or HIV/AIDS. Despite medical advancement, TB is difficult to treat and eradicate in global scale. Here is a look into the connections between HIV and Tuberculosis -- diseases claiming millions of lives worldwide. Despite medical advancement, TB remains difficult to treat and eradicate in global scale.

 Tuberculosis Cure is Still Unclear

Even if TB is highly associated with poverty and HIV, the head of the University of Cape Town's Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Valerie Mizrahi, differs on the perception and defined how the disease can easily sweep a middle-class family.

Twenty years ago, her mother fell ill with chest complaint that puzzled doctors. For several months, her mother was in and out of the hospital without any definitive diagnosis of what causes her illness.

"I remember asking one of her physicians if he'd done a sputum test (used for TB) and my question was met with amazement. She was a middle-class Jewish woman living in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, and doctors thought people of her phenotype just didn't get TB," said by Valerie Mizrahi, who then beginning her research with bacteria was called Mycobacterium tuberculosis; quoted by BDLive.co.za.

Due to desperation, her mother took a holiday to Plettenberg Bay, hoping that rest and sea air would do her good. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with TB by one look of a country doctor.

Tuberculosis and HIV/Aids

Tuberculosis or TB is a lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually by mycobacterium tuberculosis. It typically infects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. If left untreated, TB can kill 50 per cent of total cases of those infected.

TB symptoms include chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats and weight loss. Treatment of TB is very difficult to due to the growing antibiotic resistance and unable to comply on the strict schedule of medication which also contributes with the bacterial resistance against drugs.

HIV has been linked with tuberculosis due to the growing population in developed countries contracting the bacterial infection easily because of the compromised immune system. By itself, TB can easily deteriorate and infect HIV patients without antiretroviral therapy while for those who are taking both anti-TB and antiretroviral drugs, adverse effects pile up instead of creating a pathway to full recovery.

Similar with HIV cases per year, new infections occur of tuberculosis in about 1 per cent per year. Tuberculosis carriers do not necessarily cause TB disease itself and around 90-95 per cent of infections are asymptomatic or showing no symptoms at all. Someone can carry both HIV and tuberculosis without presenting any symptoms at all for some time.

Tuberculosis is the second most common cause of deaths from infectious disease right after those with HIV/AIDS.

Vitamin B12 and Tuberculosis

Today, Valerie Mizrahi is overseeing a team of researcher at the institute, pinpointing the role of vitamin B12 in the metabolism of tuberculosis. According to Medify.com, vitamin B12 Cytacon is being used by health experts on studies as treatment for tuberculosis. In their Web site, health experts published 3 studies regarding on vitamin B12 and tuberculosis, specifically for actinomycetales infection patients suffering from TB.

It is still unclear which factor is working against TB with the help of vitamin B12 and if there is any, hopefully it will uncover a new way of inexpensive treatment against the lethal disease.

Valerie Mizrahi's mother and father were both diagnosed of tuberculosis and reached full recovery later on.

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