The Union and IAS make joint commitment to fight TB-HIV

José Luis Castro and Owen Ryan

Joint statement from José Luis Castro, Executive Director, The International Union Against TB and Lung Disease and Owen Ryan, Executive Director, The International AIDS Society

This weekend, global health professionals, tuberculosis (TB) specialists and researchers, civil society and communities affected by TB will convene for TB2016 in Durban, South Africa.

In recognition of the need for greater attention to the global TB epidemic, the International AIDS Society (IAS) is convening TB2016 immediately prior to the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) —the world’s largest conference on any global health or development issue. There they will share knowledge, promote the latest scientific research, and galvanize action to end TB.

TB and HIV are deeply intertwined, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. TB has become the leading cause of death among those who are HIV-positive, despite the fact that today HIV infection can be managed with antiretroviral medication, and TB can be cured in the vast majority of cases.[1] Since HIV infection weakens the immune system, a person living with HIV is 26 to 31 times more likely to develop active TB than someone who is HIV-negative.[2] Of the 1.2 million people who died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2014, one in three deaths resulted from TB-HIV co-infection.[3] At the same time, 25%of all TB deaths were HIV-associated.[4]

It is essential that we address the TB-HIV co-epidemic at every opportunity. We know what to do; the World Health Organization (WHO) first endorsed a policy approach for jointly addressing TB-HIV in 2004. Since 2005, WHO estimates that 5.8 million lives have been saved by interventions that have jointly addressed TB and HIV. Yet, in 2014, only half of TB patients worldwide had a documented HIV test result—the first step in initiating treatment and care for TB-HIV co-infection.

We must advocate better. We must collaborate across TB and HIV communities better—because, in fact, the communities affected by TB and HIV are very often the same.

By convening in tandem with AIDS 2016, TB2016 demonstrates the benefits of fostering close relationships between the HIV and TB communities. The Union looks forward to participating in TB2016, and advancing that work at the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Liverpool, England in October.

Together, we will continue pressing for more effective, accessible, sustainable solutions that address TB-HIV and save lives.

For more information, visit the TB2016 website.