Personal Views

Multidrug resistant tuberculosis and HIV: a personal experience

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7118.1317 (Published 15 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1317
  1. Paul Mayho
  1. lives in London

    I have heard tuberculosis and HIV called the “devil's alliance.” You would have thought that having said to myself that HIV would not happen to me I would not have been so shortsighted as to assume that tuberculosis would not happen to me either—it did. Only it was not tuberculosis in its regular outfit but in a multidrug resistant form.

    In April 1995 I was a patient on a six bedded bay in an HIV unit at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. I was there with gastrointestinal problems of unknown origin. I was only there for a week but that was long enough. While I was in the hospital a patient who was obviously ill with a persistent cough was given a sputum test. This was done in the presence of other patients, which is contrary to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation. In a nutshell we breathed in what he coughed up.

    I did not know that I might have been infected until about three months later when I received a telephone call at the offices of an HIV organisation where I worked as a volunteer. I was told that the hospital had grown an acid fast bacilli and that as a precautionI needed to be isolated …

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