South Africa To Revise AIDS Control Program To Address XDR-TB
South Africa is taking steps to revise its HIV/AIDS control program in an effort to combat the spread of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, TB that is resistant to first- and second-line drugs, Nomonde Xundu, the Department of Health's chief director for HIV and TB, said on Thursday, Reuters reports. XDR-TB could exacerbate the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, where about five million out of a population of 45 million people are HIV-positive, and as many as 1,000 people die of AIDS-related complications daily, according to Reuters. About 183 people, most of whom were HIV-positive, have died from XDR-TB in South Africa since September 2006. Health planners are investigating ways to address HIV/TB coinfection and TB screening before launching a new AIDS control strategy in March, Xundu said. Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said the "biggest challenge" remains poor treatment adherence among people with TB. She added that none of the people living with XDR-TB offered counseling in the country has declined treatment and that the government does not believe compulsory isolation is necessary (Reuters, 2/15). Tshabalala-Msimang also said that the health department plans to strengthen the DOTS strategy to prevent the spread of multi-drug resistant and XDR-TB and will continue to collaborate with local and international experts to find ways to control the spread of XDR-TB (SAPA/iAfrica.com, 2/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.