Leaders and Activists Call for Action to Stop Global TB

U.S. measure to provide $4 billion in TB funding stalled in Senate

Washington, DC (June 12, 2008) — In the first major meeting of its kind, world leaders and global health activists came together on June 9 at the UN headquarters in New York to spur action on the increasingly dangerous connection between the global tuberculosis and the HIV/AIDS pandemics.

TB is the number one killer of people with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Despite this, the resources for detecting and treating TB in people living with HIV (and ensuring HIV testing and services to people with TB) are severely lacking. The World Health Organization estimates that the deadly combination of these diseases kills at least a quarter of a million people each year. The issue is particularly dire in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the meeting, held just prior to the UN’s high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS, participants, including former President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, called on the international community to do more to address the deadly synergy between TB and HIV. The full call to action can be found at http://www.stoptb.org/events/hivtbleaders/home.html.

205 civil society organizations from 65 countries put forward four major demands at the meeting that reinforced the call to action and went beyond it by demanding universal access to high-quality TB-HIV treatment by 2015. Providing the needed resources for universal treatment access and expanded research on new TB diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines could reduce mortality rates in co-infected individuals by 80 percent. A letter signed by the organizations was presented at the conference. The full text can be viewed at https://results.org/website/article.asp?id=3465.

New data at the meeting demonstrated that several countries — Kenya, Rwanda, and Malawi — have been able to massively scale up services to test and treat people co-infected with TB and HIV in just a few years. With this new data it is clear that scale-up to universal access to high quality TB-HIV care is within reach within a few years.

“This gathering in New York demonstrates the importance of fully funding efforts to fight both AIDS and tuberculosis around the world,” said Dr. Joanne Carter, newly appointed Executive Director of RESULTS. “All of the progress we have made against HIV/AIDS over the past 25 years stands to be undone unless we take aggressive action against TB. We are increasingly facing a situation where people are living with AIDS but dying of TB — a disease that has been curable for over half a century.”

“The reauthorization of the President’s AIDS Initiative, which would provide $50 billion over the next five years, including $4 billion for TB, is currently stalled in the Senate,” she said. “It would be a tragedy and a travesty if the Senate fails to do whatever it takes to pass this enormously important global AIDS, TB and malaria bill before the July recess.”

The HIV/TB Global Leaders Forum in New York was convened by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB and former President of Portugal, Dr Jorge Sampaio, and endorsed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

A media conference call featuring Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the Stop TB Partnership; Dr. Kevin DeCock, Director of the WHO’s HIV/AIDS Department; and Kenyan TB-HIV patient-activist Lucy Chesire was held on June 9 at 2:00 pm. A transcript can be found at https://results.org/website/article.asp?id=3473.

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