Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Analysis of undiagnosed tuberculosis-related deaths identified at post-mortem among HIV-infected patients in Russia: a descriptive study

Yanina Balabanova12*, Vladimir Tchernyshev3, Igor Tsigankov3, Svetlana Maximova3, Natalya Mikheeva3, Ljudmila Fedyukovitch3, Sergey Kuznetsov4, Ivan Fedorin2 and Francis Drobniewski1

Author Affiliations

1 National Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory, Center for Infectious Diseases, Institute of Cell and Molecular Sciences, Queen Mary College, Barts and the London School of Medicine, University of London, 2 Newark street, E1 2AT, London, UK

2 Samara Oblast Tuberculosis Dispensary, 154 Novosadovaya str, 443068 Samara, Russia

3 Togliatti City Tuberculosis Dispensary, 34 Telegraphnaya str, 445013 Togliatti, Russia

4 Samara Oblast Minsitry of Health and Social Development, 44 Revolyutsionnaya str, 443054, Samara, Russia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:276  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-276

Published: 18 October 2011



Tuberculosis remains a serious public health threat and economic burden in Russia with escalating rates of drug resistance against a background of growing HIV-epidemic. Samara Oblast is one of the regions of the Russian Federation where more than 1% of the population is affected by the HIV-epidemic; almost half of the cases are concentrated in the largely-industrial city of Togliatti with a population of 800 000.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of errors leading to death of HIV-positive patients in general health care hospitals in Togliatti, Russia, in 2008. All (n = 29) cases when tuberculosis was established at autopsy as a cause of death were included.


Median length of hospital stay was 20 days; in 11 cases the death occurred within the first 24 hours of admission. All cases were known to be HIV-positive prior to admission, however HAART was not initiated for any case, and no relevant tests to assess severity of immunosupression were performed despite their availability. No appropriate diagnostic algorithms were applied to confirm tuberculosis. Major gaps were identified in the work of hospital and consulting physicians including insufficient records keeping. In almost all patients earlier regular HIV-relevant tests were not performed due to poor compliance of patients, many of whom abused alcohol and drugs.


We conclude that introduction of prompt and accurate diagnostics tests, adequate treatment protocols and intensive training of physicians in management of AIDS and TB is vital. This should include reviewing standards of care for HIV-positive individuals with accompanying social problems.