News / Health

AIDS, TB Experts Unite to Reduce Deaths

Protesters from No More People Living With HIV Dying From TB movement speak during International AIDS Conference 2010 in Vienna, Austria, 22 July 2010
Protesters from No More People Living With HIV Dying From TB movement speak during International AIDS Conference 2010 in Vienna, Austria, 22 July 2010

More than a third of the planet's population is infected with the bacteria that causes tuberculosis - the disease known as TB. In many of them, the bacteria will remain dormant. But people living with HIV are much more likely to develop active TB because of their weakened immune systems. Experts at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna say political will and proper funding are the only obstacles to reducing the number of these deaths.  

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that is most commonly transmitted in overcrowded areas. Each year, there are more than nine million new cases worldwide, the vast majority in densely populated, developing countries such as India, China, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

There is no vaccine for the most common strain of TB, but the disease is treatable and curable. However, in people with HIV, it has become the leading cause of death.



At the international AIDS conference, the Stop TB Partnership and UNAIDS have announced an agreement to work together to address the two diseases with a unified strategy. Dr. Marcos Espinal is the executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.

Dr. Marcos Espinal during session on AIDS and TB at International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, 22 Jul 2010
Dr. Marcos Espinal during session on AIDS and TB at International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, 22 Jul 2010

"The co-infection of TB-HIV - it is something that goes hands-by-hands," Espinal said."It is not something that is going to go away, unless we implement the necessary measures to address these two epidemics together -- in other words, integrating TB-HIV services, because what we need to make sure [of, is that] the people in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia have access to both type of services in the same health center."

People with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop tuberculosis than those without HIV. Once they have it, it can kill them rapidly, within a few months. Experts say a quarter of all HIV-related deaths are from tuberculosis. The new initiative aims to cut that rate in half by 2015 to a quarter of a million deaths. About $5 billion a year is needed to reach that goal. UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Dr. Paul De Lay says the goal is achievable.

"We have the technologies, we know how to treat now. In the past, when a person had both TB and HIV, we separated the treatments," De Lay said. "Now, we aggressively treat both illnesses at the same time. We have a much better success rate. We have better drugs now. So, we can now combine them; they don't interfere with each other. And, so, we do have the technology. Financially, it is not an astronomical amount of money. So, this is doable, and it is doable in the next 4 to 5 years."

But Dr. Espinal of the Stop TB Partnership emphasizes that tuberculosis and HIV are not just health issues. He says they have social, economic and human rights implications that require political will to be reduced and eventually eradicated.

"We need to ensure these people who make decisions, who decide on funding, who decide on political commitment, get the message clear," Espinal said. "Otherwise, we will not be doing our job for those people affected by both diseases."

Experts here say if the global plan to Stop TB is fully funded and implemented, millions of lives will be saved and millions more people will receive needed treatment.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid