OBJECTIVE: To describe the medical, socio-economic and geographical profiles of patients with rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB) and the implications for the provision of patient-centred care.
SETTING: Thirteen districts across three South African provinces.
DESIGN: This descriptive study examined laboratory and healthcare facility records of 194 patients diagnosed with RR-TB in the third quarter of 2016.
RESULTS: The median age was 35 years; 120/194 (62%) of patients were male. Previous TB treatment was documented in 122/194 (63%) patients and 56/194 (29%) had a record of fluoroquinolone and/or second-line injectable resistance. Of 134 (69%) HIV-positive patients, viral loads were available for 68/134 (51%) (36/68 [53%] had viral loads of >1000 copies/ml) and CD4 counts were available for 92/134 (69%) (20/92 [22%] had CD4 <50 cells/mm3). Patients presented with varying other comorbidities, including hypertension (13/194, 7%) and mental health conditions (11/194, 6%). Of 194 patients, 44 (23%) were reported to be employed. Other socio-economic challenges included substance abuse (17/194, 9%) and ill family members (17/194, 9%). Respectively 13% and 42% of patients were estimated to travel more than 20 km to reach their diagnosing and treatment-initiating healthcare facility.
CONCLUSIONS: RR-TB patients had diverse medical and social challenges highlighting the need for integrated, differentiated and patient-centred healthcare to better address specific needs and underlying vulnerabilities of individual patients.