Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Immune Suppression of HIV-TB the New Global Killers

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HIV-TB 'double trouble' warning

One in four TB deaths is HIV-related, twice as many as previously recognised, experts say.

Co-infection remains a major challenge and more efforts are needed to spot and treat the two conditions in tandem, says the World Health Organization.

HIV and tuberculosis services must be joined up if we are to achieve global disease control, warn disease experts.

Despite TB killing more people with HIV than any other disease, in 2008 only 1% of people with HIV had a TB screen.

Problems compounded

HIV disables the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections like TB.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV has caused TB incidence to triple since the 1990s and in some countries 80% of TB patients are co-infected with HIV.

“ TB is preventable, treatable and curable yet it kills close to two million people a year ”

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams

In 2007, worldwide there were an estimated 1.37 million new cases of TB among HIV-infected people and 456,000 deaths.

The situation is made more urgent by increasing rates of drug-resistant TB in areas with a high prevalence of HIV.

Again, in 2007, an estimated 500,000 people had multidrug-resistant TB, but less than 1% of them were receiving treatments meeting WHO's recommended standards.

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, said: "These findings point to an urgent need to find, prevent and treat TB in people living with HIV and to test for HIV in all patients with TB.

"Countries can only do that through stronger collaborative programmes and stronger health systems that address both diseases."

Another pressure is financing the measures in the current, unstable economic climate.

“ Now is the time to scale-up financing for effective interventions ”

Dr Michel Kazatchkine of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

The UK Coalition to Stop TB is urging Gordon Brown and world leaders attending the forthcoming G20 meeting to deliver on their funding pledges to stop TB and to scale up a coordinated and coherent response to TB-HIV.

It estimates that an investment of US$14 billion would reduce TB deaths in people living with HIV by 80-90%.

Dr Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, said: "The financial crisis must not derail the implementation of the Global Plan to Stop TB.

"Now is the time to scale-up financing for effective interventions for the prevention, treatment and care of TB worldwide."

The release of WHO's Global TB Control report coincides with World TB Day.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said: "TB is preventable, treatable and curable yet it kills close to two million people a year.

"World TB Day emphasises the need for global health efforts to provide adequate care for the millions worldwide affected by HIV and related illnesses such as TB."

In the UK cases of TB have increased by 2% from 8,496 cases reported in 2007 to 8,679 in 2008 according to the Health Protection Agency.

London continues to have the most cases with 3,415 new diagnoses reported in 2008 which is 39% of the total for the UK and an increase of 2% on 2007.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2009/03/24 14:00:25 GMT


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