5th Mar 2012
The World Health Organisation has released a set of new policy guidelines to help governments and civil society scale-up combination programmes for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. The move will facilitate a more effective public health approach in diagnosis, treatment and care of TB, thus reducing TB-related mortality of people living with HIV.
The importance of TB to the global HIV epidemic is enormous. TB is a serious health problem in its own right but it is also the leading cause of death for HIV positive people, because their immune system is often too weak to fight off infection. An estimated one-third of the people living with HIV around the world are also co-infected with TB. WHO acknowledged that increased collaboration between HIV and TB programmes was necessary, and in 2004 released an interim policy paper to offer immediate guidance for countries to decrease the burden of TB and HIV.
In the six years since the paper’s release, an estimated 910,000 lives have been saved through preventative therapy, intensified screening and infection control. The new policy guidelines take into account all available evidence and research, and advocate for a more integrated approach to TB and HIV programming.