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[afro-nets] WHO Announces Plan To Fight HIV/TB Co-Infection

WHO Announces Plan To Fight HIV/TB Co-Infection
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The World Health Organization today announced a plan to expand
collaboration between national tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS pro-
grams to curb the growing pandemic of TB/HIV co-infection, fo-
cusing mainly on Africa, where 70 percent of the world's 14 mil-
lion co-infected people live.

"TB/HIV is a deadly combination and needs to be tackled with an
approach treating the whole person," said WHO Director General
Lee Jong-wook. "With effective treatment, TB can be cured, HIV
managed, and the health of millions of people preserved."

A key element of the so-called Interim Policy on Collaborative
TB/HIV Activities will be to rapidly expand voluntary HIV test-
ing and counselling in TB programs, with the aim of identifying
and referring more than half a million TB patients who are HIV
positive for antiretroviral treatment in the next two years.
With additional training for health workers, TB programs will
also assist in HIV prevention, antiretroviral distribution and
patient care.

At the same time, TB case-finding will be intensified in high-
HIV prevalence settings by introducing screening and testing for
tuberculosis into HIV/AIDS service delivery points.

"Evidence has shown that the uptake of HIV testing by TB pa-
tients is high, so mainstreaming HIV testing and counselling
into TB programs will identify many more candidates for ARV
treatment," said Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO's Stop TB
Department. "We also know that ARVs reduce the development of TB
in people with HIV, in some cases by up to 80 percent. So pro-
moting and expanding a collaborative approach makes perfect
sense". (WHO release, Jan. 21)

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