Integration Of TB/HIV Services Necessary To Beat ‘Twin Epidemics’

Swaziland “is struggling to overcome twin epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis (TB),” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé writes in the Huffington Post “Healthy Living” blog. “Here in Swaziland, more than three-quarters of TB patients are also living with HIV, and TB is the leading cause of death among people with HIV,” he notes, adding, “While Swaziland is an extreme case, what is happening here is happening around the world: Globally, 430,000 people with HIV die of TB each year.” But “[w]e have the knowledge and tools to end this vicious cycle,” Sidibé states, adding, “It requires integrating HIV and TB services as tightly as the epidemics themselves are tied together.”

Integrating HIV testing and treatment services into TB clinics, and vice versa, “are clear, straightforward, and utterly achievable steps. And we are making important progress,” he writes, noting, “Since 2005, collaboration between HIV and TB programs has saved more than 1.3 million lives in developing countries.” He continues, “UNAIDS is working closely with partners … in Swaziland and other hard-hit countries to ensure that everyone living with both HIV and active TB is able to start HIV treatment, that everyone in TB care is offered an HIV test, and that everyone in HIV care is offered screening for TB.” Sidibé concludes, “It is time to commit the resources and energies needed to go the distance. It will take all of us — governments, donors, civil society, affected communities, and businesses — to achieve this goal” (3/25).