March 7, 2012
The move to integrate HIV and TB services worldwide between 2005 and 2010 helped save an estimated 910,000 lives, the World Health Organization reported Friday. In 2004, WHO released new guidelines on TB and HIV to help patients who were often falling through the cracks due to segmented service provision.
Since then, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people with HIV being tested for TB, and vice versa. The number of HIV-positive people screened for TB rose almost 12-fold, from nearly 200,000 patients in 2005 to more than 2.3 million in 2010, WHO said. More than 100 countries now test at least half of their TB patients for HIV.
"Progress was especially noteworthy in Africa, where the number of countries testing more than half their TB patients for HIV rose from five in 2005 to 31 in 2010," noted WHO.
Based upon this momentum, WHO on Friday released updated guidelines on collaborative HIV/TB efforts for national programs and stakeholders, in an attempt to cut TB/HIV death rates further. "This framework is the international standard for the prevention, care and treatment of TB and HIV patients to reduce deaths and we have strong evidence that it works," said Mario Raviglione, director of WHO's Stop TB Partnership.
The updated strategy recommends routine HIV screening for all TB patients, people with TB symptoms and those close to them. Additionally, WHO recommends that all TB patients who have HIV receive co-trimoxazole to prevent lung or other infections, and the earliest possible initiation of antiretroviral therapy. These services and treatments "should be provided in an integrated manner at the same time and place," WHO said.
For more information on the guidelines, visit: www.who.int/tb/publications/2012/tb_hiv_policy_9789241503006/en/index.html.