There is an urgent priority to address HIV-TB issues together. Many Alliance programmes have done work on TB-HIV but last year the Alliance started exploring how best to develop and encourage stronger links between HIV and TB programming.
A survey conducted earlier this year of Alliance partners showed that over 95% of respondents are planning to increase HIV-TB activities in some way in the next two years and a high proportion are already collaborating with organisations working on TB. Fifty-four per cent give support on stigma and discrimination and 30% provide treatment literacy on isoniazid prevention therapy (IPT).
Ade Fakoya, Senior Technical Adviser from the Alliance’s Best Practice Unit is leading the development of the Alliance’s TB-HIV strategy.
“The Alliance’s unique experience in mobilising and engaging communities, technical and programmatic delivery and its strong policy and advocacy base will allow us to contribute in a variety of ways to increasing HIV and TB collaborative activities.
“We were really pleased to see that many partners are already doing excellent work on HIV-TB integration and collaborating with TB organisations. We need to further build the technical and programme capacity of linking organisations to help the scale up of TB-HIV interventions.”
Developing Alliance materials to support capacity building and training in all aspects of TB-HIV activities is important.
Most recently the Alliance produced a new toolkit on TB and stigma, ‘Understanding and challenging TB stigma’. Through a series of participatory educational sessions it will help field practitioners to increase people's understanding of TB and counter their fears.
The toolkit was created in partnership with the ZAMBART Project, a research project in Zambia. The exercises were developed with TB patients, health workers and community TB support staff.
Representatives from ZAMBART and the Alliance showcased some of the exercises from the new toolkit in a skills building workshop at the third Stop TB Partners’ Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in March.
Steve Belemu is a lead trainer for ZAMBART Project. “For me, what is new are the fears about TB transmission and the amount of TB stigma within health facilities," he said. "There are so many misconceptions about the relationship between TB and HIV in Zambia. It’s treatable, curable and people should be mindful of that fact.”