Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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TB and HIV - improving the links


Aids Alliance

This year's World TB Day (24 March) was marked by news of dramatic data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showing rates of TB-HIV co-infection are twice as high as originally estimated.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV has caused TB incidence to triple since the 1990s and in some countries 80% of TB patients are co-infected with HIV.

A lack of integrated TB and HIV services is one of the biggest problems in controlling these two epidemics. Only 1% of people living with HIV in 2008 had been screened for TB.

The Alliance is a member of the UK Coalition to Stop TB, formed last year to increase political support and funding for the global campaign to stop TB. There are 30 members of the network.

The Coalition's Kate Finch said, “If there was ever any doubt about the need to integrate the responses to TB and HIV, there is compelling new evidence we cannot ignore. We are calling on UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to push for the scale up and better link of TB and HIV activities to reach a goal of universal access to TB-HIV care by 2015.”

The Coalition has been joined in a message of support from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams: “Tuberculosis is preventable, treatable and curable yet it kills close to 2 million people a year. ‘World TB Day’ emphasises the need for global health efforts to provide adequate care for the millions worldwide affected by HIV and related illnesses such as TB.”

The Coalition to Stop TB is urging Gordon Brown and world leaders attending the forthcoming G20 meeting to deliver on their funding pledges to stop TB and to scale up a coordinated and coherent response to TB-HIV programming.

An investment of US$14 billion would reduce TB deaths in people living with HIV by 80-90%.

“At a time when many investments seem secure we know that investing in community responses to TB and HIV will pay off,” said Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

“We must make sure that people living with HIV and TB have access to appropriate services. Access to drugs, diagnostics and vaccines but also the power to speak out confidently about the issues surrounding HIV and TB that affected marginalised and poor people,” he said.

“In the current financial crisis with donors questioning their commitment to international aid and increased pressure on programme accountability and effectiveness, continuing to approach these two diseases separately would not only be inefficient, it would be negligent,” Kate Finch commented.

The UK Coalition to Stop TB has joined forces with the UK Stop AIDS Campaign to fight the co-epidemic of TB and HIV.