HIV-associated Mycobacterium tuberculosis bloodstream infection is underdiagnosed by a single blood culture

We assessed the additional diagnostic yield for Mycobacterium tuberculosis bloodstream infection (BSI) by doing more than one tuberculosis (TB) blood culture from HIV-infected inpatients. In a retrospective analysis of two cohorts based in Cape Town, South Africa, 72/99 (73%) patients with M. tuberculosis BSI were identified by the first of two blood cultures during the same admission, with 27/99 (27%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 18 to 36%) testing negative on the first culture but positive on the second. In a prospective evaluation of up to 6 blood cultures over 24 h, 9 of 14 (65%) patients with M. tuberculosis BSI had M. tuberculosis grow on their first blood culture; 3 more patients (21%) were identified by a second independent blood culture at the same time point, and the remaining 2 were diagnosed only on the 4th and 6th blood cultures. Additional blood cultures increase the yield for M. tuberculosis BSI, similar to what is reported for nonmycobacterial BSI.