World TB Day 2012: GNP+ calls for a client centered approach to TB diagnosis, treatment and care
Friday, 23 March 2012
24 March, 2012: The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) recognises this World TB Day, the annual day to focus attention on tuberculosis, by calling for a paradigm shift to address the world’s leading cause of death for people living with HIV.
According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis (TB) is responsible for one in four HIV-related deaths. Globally, around one third of all people living with HIV also have TB. While people living with HIV, and especially children, are 21-34 times more likely to develop active TB due to a weakened immune response, the loss of 350,000 people living with HIV in 2010[i] to a curable disease is unacceptable.
The involvement and central role of people living with HIV has contributed significantly to the great gains made in responding to HIV over the last 30 years. GNP+ in collaboration with UNAIDS developed Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention, a rights-based framework placing people living with HIV at the centre of the response.[ii] A similar approach to TB is essential for an effective TB response for people living with HIV.
“There is much that can be shared and learnt between the two fields and greater collaboration can contribute significantly to an improved TB response,” says Thembi Nkambule, director of Swaziland´s National Network of People with HIV and AIDS (SWANNEPHA), “The TB and HIV epidemics are simply too closely connected for us not to work together.”
The movement of people living with HIV, TB advocates and public health professionals including the WHO and UNAIDS are calling for a comprehensive approach to prevent and treat TB among people living with HIV and save a million lives by 2015.[iii]
“Great gains can easily be made by increasing access to HIV treatment and improved TB screening,” says Anuar Luna, co-chair of GNP+: “The achievement of commencing HIV treatment at a CD4 count of 350, following WHO Guidelines, will be one of the greatest gains in TB prevention.”
Today there are high hopes to achieve zero transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies following increased political commitment and a scale up of efforts.[iv] The same should be possible to achieve zero TB deaths amongst children. Integrating TB diagnosis, treatment and care with efforts to prevent vertical HIV transmission, presents a great entry point to deliver services and support children who may be particularly vulnerable to TB.
“Over the centuries TB has affected the lives of millions of people, especially children,” says Anna Zakowicz, co-chair of GNP+: “With a child’s TB treatment costing 50 cents a day, and TB prevention only 3 cents a day, now is the time to halt this needless loss and suffering.”
[i] Stop TB Partnership, WHO, UNAIDS, Time to act: Save a million lives by 2015. Prevent and treat tuberculosis among people living with HIV. Geneva, World Health Organization 2011
[ii] GNP+, UNAIDS. 2011. Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention: A Policy Framework. Amsterdam, GNP+.
[iii] Williams B, Dye C et al, Tuberculosis among people living with HIV: is it possible to prevent a million TB deaths by 2015? Unpublished technical report; The Global Plan to Stop TB 2011–2015: transforming the fight towards elimination of tuberculosis. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2010 (WHO/HTM/STB/2010.2).
[iv] UNAIDS, Countdown to Zero: Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. Geneva, UNAIDS, 2011.