A six-year policy of collaboration between AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) health services has saved around 910,000 lives globally, reports a survey by the World Health Organization.
The survey, released by the WHO mentions that since the organization proposed the initial guidance on collaboration between TB and HIV activities in 2004, the number of people living with HIV screened for TB increased almost 12-fold, from nearly 200,000 in 2005 to over 2.3 million people in 2010.
Regarded as a global killer, around one-third of the world's population is currently infected with the TB bacillus.
The WHO has further launched an updated global policy to accelerate coordinated public health interventions to further reduce deaths from this dangerous combination of diseases.
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 Dr. Mario Raviglione, WHO Director of the Stop TB Department.
Some of the prime elements of the new policy include routine HIV testing for TB patients, people with the symptoms of TB and their partners or family members; provision of co-trimoxazole, a cost-effective medicine to prevent against lung or other infections for all TB patients who are infected with HIV and evidence-based methods to prevent the acquisition of HIV for TB patients, their families and communities.
We must address TB as we manage HIV, said Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department. We have shown over the last five years what can be done. To continue the progress and save more lives, comprehensive HIV services must include the Three I's for HIV/TB strategy: isoniazid preventive therapy, intensified screening and infection control for TB, and it should also include earlier treatment for HIV for those that are eligible.
Currently, more than 100 countries are now testing more than 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.