1,000 Days to End TB/HIV Epidemic and Stop 1,000 Deaths a Day

Lungile is HIV-positive, but because of PMTCT, her child is HIV-free.

James Pursey/EGPAF

On March 21, in Ezulwini, Swaziland, the South African Development Community (SADC) launched a 1,000 Days Program to end TB/HIV co-infections. As he introduced the initiative, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe projected that Swaziland would be one of the first countries to declare an AIDS-free generation because of the scale-up of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, in addition to the nation’s success in starting large numbers of HIV-positive individuals on treatment. The program is part of the push to recognize that the world is just 1,000 days from 2015 and the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.

The battle against HIV/TB co-infection is an important fight to win in Swaziland and across Africa. It is estimated that 1,000 people die each day as a result of this type of infection. In Swaziland alone, more than 80 percent of TB patients are also living with AIDS.

A major focus of this initiative is the private sector mining industry in southern Africa. The Swazi Prime Minister, Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, pointed out that with more than 55 percent of the world’s TB infections, the mining industry and its multi-country migratory workforce is at the center of the epidemic.

The launch event was attended by ministers and deputy ministers of health from Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, as well as representatives from the Global Fund and a range of United Nations and NGO partners.

The afternoon event was punctuated with the signing of a declaration calling for cross-border collaboration, increased resources, and engagement by civil society, governments, corporations and donors to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Philip O’Brien is Executive Vice President of Communications, Advocacy, and Development for the Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland.