1 December 2023 | Genev -- World AIDS Day 2023 this year focuses on unleashing the full potential of community leadership to enable the end of AIDS. People and communities affected by tuberculosis (TB) are critical stakeholders in ending both TB and HIV.
According to WHO’s latest Global Tuberculosis Report, just under a third of deaths among people with HIV were due to TB. It continues to remain one of the world’s top infectious killers and is one of the most common causes of severe illness and death among people with HIV. The relationships are bidirectional - HIV is one of the main drivers of TB, giving rise to an estimated 671,000 episodes of HIV-associated TB last year.
WHO recommends collaborative TB/HIV activities to address HIV-associated TB. These activities comprise establishing and strengthening mechanisms for delivering integrated TB and HIV services, reducing the burden of TB in people living with HIV and initiating early antiretroviral therapy, and reducing the burden of HIV in people with presumptive or diagnosed TB.
“We have the tools to address the joint burden of the TB and HIV epidemics”, said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme. “Reinvigorated efforts are needed to close the remaining gaps and assure access to prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of HIV-associated TB. Communities and civil society are key stakeholders to reaching the last mile”.
Since 2005, when countries first started scaling up collaborative TB/HIV activities, there has been an overall 77% decline in TB-related deaths among people with HIV. However, a decline was mainly seen in three WHO regions (78% in the African region, 85% in South-East Asia and 51% in the Western Pacific region). Gaps along the cascade of TB/HIV care persist.
Communities must be meaningfully engaged in all aspects of TB and HIV service delivery, including planning, decision making, programming, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, as well as in advocacy and research, and should be sustainably funded. These constitute important ingredients of an enabling environment for meaningful community engagement in TB prevention and care, outlined within the WHO Guidance on engagement of communities and civil society to end TB.
“Ending AIDS and TB can only be made possible through meaningful engagement of key and vulnerable communities”, stressed Jeffry Acaba, member of the WHO Civil Society Task Force on TB. “This means, communities are not just recipients of TB and HIV care – they should be valued, equal partners in the response to TB and HIV who can bring lived experience, ground realities and expertise to the table”.
Source: World Health Organization