, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 281-294
Date: 06 Dec 2013

TB and HIV in the Central African region: current knowledge and knowledge gaps

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Abstract

Purpose

Reliable and comprehensive data on the HIV/AIDS and TB co-pandemics from Central Africa remain scarce. This systematic review provides a comprehensive overview on current and past research activities in the region and provides a basis for future research work to close knowledge gaps.

Methods

The scientific literature was searched for publications meeting the following search terms: “tuberculosis” or “HIV” or “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome”, combined with “Central Africa”, or the names of individual countries within the region. Original studies, reviews and case series were included, and a selection of relevant articles was made.

Results

Most research in the field of HIV and TB has been conducted in Cameroon, where the epidemics have been described fairly well. The Democratic Republic of Congo ranked second on the amount of publications, despite the civil wars over the past several decades. Very little has been published on HIV and TB in the other countries, possibly due to the poor infrastructure of health care systems, lack of scientific capacity building or shortage of laboratory equipment.

Conclusions

Despite the relatively high burden of HIV and TB in the Central African region, the amount of research activities on these topics is limited. A better understanding of the co-epidemics in this region is urgently needed. The occurrence of opportunistic infections, treatment complications and drug resistance in TB and HIV need to be better described; the failure of public health systems needs to be understood, and research infrastructure needs to be developed. Only then will it be possible to turn the tide against the HIV and TB epidemics in this region.