Preventing tuberculosis infection the focus of the TB-HIV Symposium in Mexico

The TB-HIV Symposium, held in Mexico in advance of the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science, launched a call to action to reach out to six million people living with HIV with preventive treatment for tuberculosis (TB).

The Union’s Scientific Director, Dr Paula I Fujiwara, said: “This is the third time IAS has convened the TB-HIV Symposium, but this has been the strongest yet in knitting together the TB and HIV communities.”

About one-third of the world's population has TB infection, which means they have been infected by TB bacteria but are not ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease. The bacteria can become active however, and causes active TB in about 10 percent of those infected over a lifetime.

This risk of progression is even higher in people with an impaired immune responses, such as individuals living with HIV. Providing preventive treatment to high-risk populations is essential to ending the TB epidemic globally. 

TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for nearly one-third of deaths. Prevention is a key strategy to reducing this burden.

During a press conference held at IAS2019 on 22 July, Dr Fujiwara said: “In the United Nations political declaration made at last year’s High-Level Meeting on TB, there is now a push to put 30 million people on TB preventive treatment by 2022. India’s contribution is estimated to be seven million, of which 844,200 should be in children.

“Without addressing the reservoir of the 25 percent of the world’s population infected with M. tuberculosis, we will never get to the end of TB. This was highlighted in the TB-HIV Symposium, where there was a specific call to action for a coordinated HIV and TB response to place six million people living with HIV on TB preventive treatment.”

The symposium, organised by the Stop TB Partnership and supported by an organising committee from top TB and HIV bodies including The Union, issued five action points to that end:

  1. Sustain the necessary funding for both TB and HIV
  2. Galvanise stakeholders at all levels to ensure access to TB and HIV services and models of care that have affected individuals and communities at their core 
  3. Accelerate research and development of technology innovations, including diagnosis, treatment and vaccines
  4. Decrease the burden of combined HIV and TB stigma
  5. Commit to outstanding programmatic performance

The TB-HIV Symposium was held on 20 July just prior to IAS 2019. On Tuesday 23 July, Dr Fujiwara will join a panel of experts at the side event titled: How to fix our medical R&D model: A spotlight on TB treatment. Speakers will share their opinions on how to foster a more effective TB response and why alternative models that are driven by public health interests need to be supported. The event is open to the public, register to attend at Granja Las Americas, or virtually.

On Wednesday 24 July, Dr Tara Singh Bam, Deputy Director of The Union Asia Pacific Office, will speak at the session on ‘People living with HIV but dying of NCDs (78 months left to reduce NCDs by 25% by 2025)’, which aims to examine and present how non-communicable diseases (NCDs) impact people living with HIV and possible best practices in synergies between AIDS and NCDs programmes.