WHO Official Urges More Cooperation Among HIV, TB Workers, More Funding for TB Efforts
The fight against HIV is "a losing battle" unless health care workers, aid agencies and governments cooperate in eliminating tuberculosis, Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the World Health Organization's Stop TB program, said, the Washington Times reports. According to WHO, TB -- which is usually curable with a $10 regimen of antibiotics -- is the leading killer of HIV-positive people worldwide. "In the nations with the highest rates of HIV, between 60% and 80% of all those infected with TB are also HIV-positive. Between 30% and 40% of all HIV-positive patients will get TB," Raviglione said, adding, "We badly need interaction between these two communities." He said that if an HIV-positive individual receives antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV but is not treated for TB, the person likely will die within six months. "Even without antiretrovirals, if the patient's TB is treated, you can extend life by two to five years," he said, adding, "A little extra money well invested, and you can get a lot." According to a study conducted by RESULTS Educational Fund and the public health section of the Open Society Institute, $53 million is needed to treat all of the people coinfected with HIV and TB in the 14 countries covered by President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief; an additional $200 million would be needed to treat all of the TB patients in those countries. However, in his fiscal year 2005 budget proposal, Bush requested $139 million for efforts to fight TB and malaria, a decrease from the $185 million that was appropriated in FY 2004, according to the Times. "We need to strengthen HIV testing and TB testing," Raviglione said, adding, "If our goal is to find HIV-positive patients and get them antiretroviral drugs, the best way to find them is to scale up TB programs. ... Once you detect TB, you can do a lot of good for $10" (Carter, Washington Times, 3/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.