South Africa: Treat TB, HIV as "a Single Threat"
November 8, 2007
South Africa must take a unified approach to fighting the combination of TB and HIV instead of viewing it as a "new" epidemic of two separate diseases, Dr. Greg Hussey of the University of Cape Town's Institute for Infectious Diseases said on Tuesday. A national forum is needed for "all voices" in the medical field and elsewhere to tackle the problem, Hussey said ahead of the 38th annual Union World Conference on Lung Health in Cape Town. South Africa, he added, must begin thinking "out of the box."
"Let's not think along traditional lines and traditional models in South Africa where you lock up someone with multiple drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB)," said Hussey. "We need to consider the alternatives, and we have not yet tried those alternatives."
Approximately 50 percent of TB cases in South Africa involve people who are co-infected with HIV, said Hussey. Around 250,000 new TB cases are reported annually, and the number is growing. Of these, 50,000 are children.
South Africa, with the world's largest HIV/AIDS caseload, must provide leadership on the problem, "but if you look at facts and figures, it's not there. And I'm saying this in the context of the failure of global political leadership on TB," said Gregg Gonsalves of AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa.
More people with HIV should be tested for TB, and screening for the diseases should be simplified, said Hussey. Clinics, schools, and households need anti-infection protocols. Many simple procedures are available that are not "rocket science" and not overly expensive, he noted.
Business Day (Johannesburg)
11.07.2007; Chris van Gass
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.