November 7, 2013
This article was reported by the Africa Science News.
Africa Science News recently reported the Global Fund's strategic decision to require all future funding proposals to address TB and HIV jointly to streamline programming in countries with high prevalence of both diseases. Although the Global Fund has encouraged joint proposals in the past, few countries voluntarily adopted the strategy. Beginning in March 2014, the new Global Fund approach will require that countries integrate HIV and TB proposals and coordinate programming where HIV and TB coinfection is high. Luiz Loures, deputy executive director of programs for UNAIDS, stated that integrated proposals and programming ultimately would help people access both HIV and TB testing and treatment.
Eliud Wandwalo, Global Fund's senior disease coordinator for TB, also emphasized the close connection between HIV and TB infection. HIV-infected people were much more likely to develop TB and to die from TB infections than people who did not have the HIV virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 1.3 million TB deaths occurred in 2012, with 320,000 of these deaths occurring among HIV-infected people. TB and HIV coinfection rates in 2012 were highest in Africa, where 43 percent of TB patients also had positive HIV test results.
WHO, UNAIDS, and the Stop TB Partnership developed a scientific model that estimated the world could prevent 1 million TB deaths among HIV-infected people by 2015 by screening for TB and providing treatment. Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund, stated that HIV and TB essentially were the same disease in some areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa.