Funding International Tuberculosis Programs Could Extend Lives of HIV-Positive People, New York Times Editorial Says
Funding international tuberculosis programs is "urgent," a New York Times editorial says, encouraging the House of Representatives to approve increased funding for the programs as part of the foreign appropriations bill it is considering this week. The bill provides $70 million for international TB programs, but "[f]ar more" funding is needed because of the increased prevalence of drug-resistant TB strains that could infect more people and drive up the cost of treatment. TB infects more than a third of the world's people; however, 90% of those infected do not show manifestations of the disease unless their immune systems are weakened by HIV/AIDS, the editorial states, noting that TB is the "leading killer" of those with AIDS and that more than 40% of HIV-positive Africans have TB. "That suggests a simple and cheap way of prolonging the lives of millions of AIDS sufferers -- cure their TB," the editorial states. The editorial says that curing most non-drug-resistant strains of TB costs "as little as" $10 per person, but "upwards" of $20,000 per person to treat drug-resistant strains. "A little money now can control this neglected killer before we face a global epidemic of a version that has outrun our ability to treat it," the editorial concludes, citing a new World Health Organization fund that will supply TB drugs to countries that can use them "properly" (New York Times, 7/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.