17 December 2012

Africa: To Beat HIV Cut Tuberculosis - Study

According to the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), the goal of zero AIDS-related deaths will not be reached without improved TB-HIV collaborative services.

From the patients' point of view, the obstacles to TB-HIV care can range from lack of access to clinics able to treat both diseases to the heavy pill burden and the possibility of side effects and drug interactions.

For health systems, the main obstacles are weak coordination between TB and HIV programmes that can have an adverse impact on patients' treatment access and outcomes.

"Many countries have made progress in implementing collaborative TB-HIV activities", says Dr Paula I Fujiwara, Director of The Union's TB and HIV Department.

"However, others still face challenges in making these activities operational within their national TB and AIDS programmes and general health services."

The Union has been working with TB and AIDS control programmes in Africa and Asia since 2004 to mitigate this dual burden of disease.

The Integrated HIV Care for TB Patients Living with HIV/AIDS (IHC) Initiative has screened and treated thousands of patients in Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.

Tuberculosis is the leading killer of people with HIV and caused 430,000 deaths in 2011, despite the fact that TB is curable and HIV can be managed effectively. There are 1.1 m people currently in need of simultaneous treatment for the two diseases, yet integrated services are still not available in many areas.

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