Feature story

TB deaths rise in people living with HIV

17 March 2008

(from left, front):  Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director, Global Fund; Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO); Peter Piot, Executive Director, UNAIDS; Jorge Sampaio, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB and former president of Portugal and (from left, back): Jorge Bermudez, Executive Secretary of UNITAID; Mario Raviglione, Director WHO Stop TB Department; Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership at the launch of Global Tuberculosis Control 2008 report. Geneva, 17 March 2008.
Credit: WHO/C. Black

Almost quarter of a million people living with HIV died from tuberculosis (TB) in 2006 according to a new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The annual report, Global Tuberculosis Control 2008, also shows that nearly 3/4 million people living with HIV fell ill with TB disease in 2006, confirming that TB is a major cause of illness and death in people living with HIV despite being mostly preventable and curable. Africa is yet again the most heavily affected continent, with 85% of the global burden of HIV-related TB. 

The report also contained good news, with encouraging signs, especially from Africa, that TB and HIV programmes are increasingly working together to reduce the heavy burden of TB in people living with HIV. For example in Rwanda the TB programme were able to provide HIV testing to 76% of all TB patients, thus making sure that they were able to access the best HIV prevention, treatment and care services.  Much more work is needed, however, to make sure that people living with HIV have better access to TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services, e.g. less than 1% of people living with HIV were screened for TB in 2006.

Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director, UNAIDS addressed the press launch of Global Tuberculosis Control 2008. Geneva, 17 March 2008.
Credit: WHO/C. Black

"The report tells us that we are far from providing universal access to high-quality prevention, diagnostic, treatment and care services for HIV and TB," said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

"Clear progress has been made but we must all do more to make a joint approach to reducing TB deaths among people with HIV a reality."

The report was launched in Geneva by Peter Piot (Executive Director, UNAIDS), Margaret Chan (Director General, WHO), Michel Kazatchkine (Executive Director, Global Fund) and Jorge Sampaio (UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB and former president of Portugal) in time for World TB Day (24 March).

UNAIDS, WHO, the Global Fund, the Stop TB Partnership along with our national and international partners, will be working closely together to ensure universal access to integrated HIV and TB services and ensure a coordinated response to the epidemics of HIV and TB – this is the only way forward if we are to produce a truly effective response.