Journal Article

Chronic Cough in Primary Health Care Attendees, Harare, Zimbabwe: Diagnosis and Impact of HIV Infection

Shungu S. Munyati, Temba Dhoba, Evelyn D. Makanza, Stanley Mungofa, Maureen Wellington, Junior Mutsvangwa, Lovemore Gwanzura, James Hakim, Morgan Nyakabau, Peter R. Mason, Valerie Robertson, Simba Rusakaniko, Anthony E. Butterworth and Elizabeth L. Corbett

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 40, issue 12, pages 1818-1827
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
Chronic Cough in Primary Health Care Attendees, Harare, Zimbabwe: Diagnosis and Impact of HIV Infection

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Background. Cough lasting for ⩾3 weeks (i.e., chronic cough) indicates that a patient has suspected tuberculosis (TB). At the primary health care level, the spectrum of disease that causes chronic cough has not been previously investigated in a setting with a high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

Methods. A total of 544 adults with chronic cough were recruited systematically from 2 primary health care clinics, and they were evaluated using preset first- and second-line investigations and diagnostic case definitions.

Results. The overall prevalence of HIV infection among the study cohort was 83%. TB was the most common diagnosis, with 207 HIV-positive patients (46%) and 27 HIV-negative patients (30%) having confirmed or probable TB. Of these, 145 HIV-positive patients with TB (70%) and 20 HIV-negative patients with TB (74%) had smear-positive cases of TB. Only 17 HIV-positive and 2 HIV-negative patients had smear-negative but culture-positive cases of TB. Lower respiratory tract infections (n = 178; HIV prevalence, 79%) and pneumonia (n = 87; HIV prevalence, 89%) were the next most common diagnoses. Asthma (n = 26; HIV prevalence, 46%), posttuberculous disease and other fibrotic lung disease (n = 34; HIV prevalence, 88%), and cardiac disease (n = 15; HIV prevalence, 93%) were more common than werePneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia and cryptococcosis (n = 8 andn = 5, respectively; HIV prevalence, 100%), and we found no cases of nocardiosis or histoplasmosis.

Conclusions. TB was diagnosed for 43% of patients who presented with chronic cough to primary health care clinics in Harare, with 71% having smear-positive disease. The findings of TB culture added relatively little to the findings of fluorescent microscopy of concentrated sputum specimens. The prevalence of HIV infection was high across a range of diagnoses, suggesting that an HIV test should be recommended in the initial investigation of chronic cough.

Journal Article.  5391 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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