Decreased TB Funding Could Hinder HIV/AIDS Efforts, Researchers Say
A decline in global funding to control tuberculosis could compromise gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi -- recent recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine for her contribution to the discovery of HIV -- said Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Barre-Sinoussi spoke during a teleconference from the Institut Pasteur in Paris about the current global financial crisis.
Of the approximately 33 million HIV-positive people worldwide, about 11 million also have TB, according to Barre-Sinoussi. She added that HIV/AIDS efforts have reached "the period of success with antiretroviral treatment," but an "alarming" epidemic of multi-drug resistant TB is on the rise. Although international donors generally direct funds toward antibiotic research and drug distribution in developing nations, HIV and TB advocates "are even more worried than before" because of the worsening global economic situation, Barre-Sinoussi said.
According to Richard Chaisson -- director of TB research at Johns Hopkins University and head of a consortium to combat HIV/TB -- TB incidence has quadrupled over the past 15 years in sub-Saharan Africa, where 22 million people are HIV-positive. Chaisson added that "TB is what kills most patients" in regions of the world with the highest rates of HIV. In addition, the prevalence of MDR-TB is increasing, with such strains accounting for 5% of new TB cases worldwide and 15% to 22% of new cases in China and parts of the former Soviet Union. Although drug-sensitive TB and MDR-TB generally are treatable with appropriate antibiotic regimens, the World Health Organization reports that the majority of Africans do not receive TB drugs. In addition, about half of people with extensively drug-resistant TB -- which is resistant to two of the most potent first-line treatments and at least two of the classes of second-line drugs -- die from the strain, Chaisson said (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 10/14).