Asian Countries Discuss Issues Surrounding HIV/TB Coinfection
Health officials from nine Asian countries on Wednesday met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to discuss strategies for curbing the spread of tuberculosis among people living with HIV/AIDS in the region, DPA/Earth Times reports. At the meeting, representatives from Cambodia, China, Fiji, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Vietnam and the World Health Organization voted to implement measures to expand HIV and TB testing among people diagnosed with one of the diseases, as well as to maximize early access to antiretroviral drugs.
Shigeru Omi, regional director for WHO's Office for the Western Pacific, said that people who are newly diagnosed with TB have "insufficient access to HIV testing, resulting in the late diagnosis of HIV coinfection" (DPA/Earth Times, 2/20). Omi said that between 25% and 50% of people diagnosed with TB in the Western Pacific region die because they do not have adequate access to HIV tests. According to a statement released by WHO, HIV-positive people who develop TB are 10 times more likely to die earlier than those who do not have TB. The number of TB cases in the Western Pacific region accounts for about one-third of the global TB burden, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 2/20).