What We're Reading: The Intersection of Tuberculosis and HIV
March 24, 2011
Since today is World Tuberculosis Day, we were reading a number of articles in the media dealing with the deadly twin infections of TB and HIV.
Ambassador Eric Goosby – the head of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
– authored a blog outlining the scope of the TB epidemic
, and how it’s tied closely to HIV:
“TB is the most common opportunistic infection and the leading cause of death among people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that of the 9.4 million cases of TB worldwide, 1.1 million of these individuals were also infected with HIV. Nearly 80 percent of TB/HIV co-infections are found in the Africa region.”
Ambassador Goosby highlighted the work PEPFAR has done to identify people infected with both TB and HIV, ensure that they receive the proper treatment, and to efficiently integrate these services into one package of care.
The World Health Organization also released a new report
to address the worst and most dangerous cases of the epidemic: Towards universal access to diagnosis and treatment of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis by 2015.
examined these cases of multiple drug-resistant (MDR) and extensively-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis in South Africa, a country hard hit by the TB and HIV epidemics.
A mother and child wait at a health clinic in South Africa.
(Photo: EGPAF/Jon Hrusa)
The website Health-e also looked at the “drug-resistant tuberculosis time bomb”
in South Africa, and the country’s poor track-record of screening HIV patients for TB
– despite the fact that almost 60% of HIV-positive South Africans also have TB. In Khayelitsha, a poor township outside Cape Town, that rate is as high as 73%.
Dr. Anneke Hesseling – a 2007 recipient of the Foundation’s International Leadership award
– has vast experience working with children with TB and HIV in the community of Khayelitsha. She visited the Foundation’s D.C. offices today to speak about the TB/HIV research that resulted from her award, which was funded by longtime Foundation partner Jewelers For Children.
Dr. Hesseling investigated ways of better identifying and treating infants, children, and pregnant mothers for TB and HIV, and her research helped change international policies and local health practices in South Africa. Come back to the Foundation blog tomorrow to read more about her presentation.
The Foundation’s own international programs provide examples of how to address this intersection between the diseases of TB and HIV. In Uganda, the Foundation recently began a new, five-year project with the Ministry of Health
to provide integrated TB and HIV/AIDS services in the southwest region of the country.
And finally, we are also reading about the Foundation’s work in Kenya to identify and treat TB infection in children.
Dr. Lucy Mathu, a senior technical prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission adviser for the Foundation in Kenya, spoke to IRIN’s PlusNews website
about the importance of strengthening the government's community strategy – using community health workers to detect the signs of children who might have TB, and to quickly refer them to health centers for treatment.
As Dr. Hesseling noted in her presentation today, both TB and HIV are absolutely preventable in children – but when these infections happen, they must also be caught and treated early to save lives.
Robert Yule is the Foundation's Senior Media Affairs Manager, based in Washington, D.C.