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TB vaccine alert creates added HIV screening needs

This article was originally published in Clinica

Executive Summary

There is an important new reason to conduct prenatal and perinatal testing for HIV whenever there is a risk of vertical transmission. Infected infants are at "considerably higher risk" of contracting tuberculosis (TB) from the standard BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine than previously estimated, according to research published today in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. The Stellenbosch University (Tygerberg, South Africa) researchers recommend delaying vaccination until HIV status is known, and say there is an urgent need for further research to determine the risk-benefits involved. BCG is used globally to protect people from TB – some 75% of all children born worldwide (130 million in 2002) receive the vaccine. An estimated 390,000-420,000 children a year acquire HIV by the age of 15.

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