Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Organizations Call for Integration of TB Interventions Into Country’s HIV/AIDS Programs
The Zimbabwe government should integrate tuberculosis interventions into its HIV/AIDS programs, HIV/AIDS service organizations and other health advocates said at a recent forum hosted by the Southern Africa HIV/AIDS Information Dissemination Service in the country's capital of Harare, the Herald reports.
The advocates noted that TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV/AIDS but that the disease often is neglected because of a lack of support in current HIV/AIDS policies. According to statistics presented by Lois Chingandu, executive director of SafAIDS, TB cases have been increasing during the past five years because of high numbers of HIV cases. Zimbabwe recorded 97 TB cases per every 100,000 people in 1990, compared with 413 cases in 2003 and 557 cases this year.
Despite the situation, most of the country's HIV/AIDS programs operate separately from TB programs, according to the Herald. Chingandu noted that most of the time people are treated for either TB or HIV/AIDS even though they have both diseases. "People with latent TB are increasingly becoming infected with HIV, and many more are developing active TB because HIV would have weakened their immune system," she said. "The two diseases represent a deadly combination since they are more destructive together than either disease alone," Chingandu added.
HIV/AIDS specialist Gerald Kadzirange also called for HIV testing among people who have been diagnosed with TB. "We have realized that not all TB patients get voluntary counseling and testing and not all HIV-positive [people] were screened for TB," Kadzirange said. He called for rapid surveys on multi-drug resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB, which is resistant to the two most potent first-line treatments and at least two of the classes of second-line drugs, to be conducted in the country.
SafAIDS plans to host discussion forums every two months so that stakeholders can discuss the integration of HIV/AIDS and TB programs, the Herald reports (Herald, 5/23).