Governments Worldwide Should Increase Efforts To Fight TB, HIV/AIDS, Report Says
Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic is leading to increased numbers of tuberculosis cases worldwide, and more people are dying of AIDS-related causes because of TB, governments are not adequately addressing the interaction between the two diseases, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Public Health Watch project of the Open Society Institute, Reuters Health reports (Fox, Reuters Health, 8/8). The report -- which was released in advance of the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto next week -- examines the relationship between TB and HIV/AIDS and governmental responses to the two diseases in Bangladesh, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania and Thailand. It finds that widespread stigma; a lack of awareness; uncoordinated services; and a need for local, national and international mobilization are intensifying the TB/HIV coepidemic, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (OSI release, 8/8). "Governments and the international community have got to realize they have on their hands two simultaneous and interrelated catastrophes," U.N. Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said, adding, "We must confront both together. We need more resources. We need diagnostics. We need better drugs" (Reuters Health, 8/8).
Report Details, Recommendations
The report finds that although Bangladesh, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania and Thailand have varying TB/HIV coepidemics, the governments of all five countries need to increase coordination of TB and HIV/AIDS policies and programs. It also says that stigma and discrimination associated with TB and HIV/AIDS keep many people living with the diseases from seeking treatment -- an issue compounded by a lack of adequate diagnostic tools (OSI release, 8/8). One-third of all sputum smear samples from HIV-positive people are correctly diagnosed as positive for TB, and any delay in TB treatment among people living with HIV "can be fatal," the report says (Reuters Health, 8/8). The report also says that there is a lack of knowledge about TB and TB/HIV coinfection among the public and policymakers in the five countries. People living with HIV/AIDS often do not have basic knowledge about TB even though they are at an increased risk of developing the disease, according to the report. The report says that advocates, donors and policymakers need to make a commitment to improve social mobilization around TB and TB/HIV coinfection and reduce TB incidence and mortality among HIV-positive people worldwide (OSI release, 8/8). Lewis and the report's authors said they aim to generate interest in the relationship between TB and HIV/AIDS during the International AIDS Conference (Reuters Health, 8/8). The report is a preview of a series of reports on the five countries that will be released on Nov. 1 at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease's 37th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Paris (OSI release, 8/8).
The XVI International AIDS Conference program is available online.
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