Print version ISSN 0042-9686
Bull World Health Organ vol.82 n.11 Genebra Nov. 2004
WHO steps up TB–AIDS collaboration
WHO's Stop TB and HIV/AIDS departments are setting up a new joint task force to streamline efforts to get treatment to patients who are co-infected with the two diseases, a double scourge that has devastating consequences particularly in Africa.
The task force will include six officers from the Stop TB department and three from the HIV/AIDS department and will be charged with finding ways to improve coordination of tuberculosis and AIDS control and treatment at country level.
Of an estimated 25 million Africans currently infected with HIV, about eight million also harbour the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. About 37% of deaths, caused by tuberculosis in people of all ages in Africa, are related to HIV infection.
WHO sees tackling tuberculosis as one of the most effective ways of ensuring the survival of people infected with HIV. At the same time improved strategies to control HIV will play a major part in controlling tuberculosis.
Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of Stop TB at WHO in Geneva said the new approach is based on the premise that merely treating one disease and not the other, if both are present in a patient, cannot be effective.
"Particularly in Africa, but also in other regions, the TB epidemic is driven by the HIV epidemic. By strengthening cooperation we will be able to respond and save more lives," Raviglione told the Bulletin.
Raviglione said he hoped the task force could serve as a model for similar collaboration for public health experts and others working in regions and countries to reduce the toll of tuberculosis and HIV.
Dr Jim Kim of WHO's HIV/AIDS department said: "We must never forget that although we are dealing with two diseases we are very often treating one individual person."