HIV Could Fuel Deaths From XDR-TB in Africa, WHO Officials Say
Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic could fuel deaths from XDR-TB -- tuberculosis that is resistant to first- and second-line drugs -- which has resulted in the deaths of least 74 people in South Africa since January 2005, World Health Organization officials said on Tuesday, Reuters reports (McGregor, Reuters, 10/17). XDR-TB first appeared among HIV-positive people in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, according to a study presented in August at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/18). According to experts attending a two-day workshop on XDR-TB and HIV in Johannesburg, South Africa, this week, HIV/AIDS could cause an acceleration of XDR-TB infections and create an uncontrollable epidemic unless control measures are intensified (Dlamini/Dube, BuaNews, 10/17). "The XDR-TB crisis will not in most parts of the world be solved unless HIV is properly considered," Teguest Guerma of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department said, adding, "Underlying HIV will add significant challenges to the clinical response" (Reuters, 10/17). Guerma called for HIV and TB programs to have a "close and a real collaboration" (BuaNews, 10/17). To boost funding to address the XDR-TB outbreak, representatives from the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria plan to redirect current funds to XDR-TB control efforts, and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is considering a similar funding shift, Paul Nunn, coordinator of WHO's TB drug-resistance unit, said. South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang invited government representatives from Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, as well as WHO officials and scientists, to attend the two-day workshop (Reuters, 10/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.