Treating TB is Key to Saving Lives of AIDS Patients

by VR Sreeraman on  June 10, 2008 at 11:49 AM AIDS/HIV News   - G J E 4
People suffering from both AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) are more likely to die of TB, a Zambian infected with HIV said here Monday.
 Treating TB is Key to Saving Lives of AIDS Patients
Treating TB is Key to Saving Lives of AIDS Patients

Winstone Zulu, an AIDS/TB activist, told a press conference that four brothers, who like him were diagnosed with both AIDS and tuberculosis, had died because they did not have access to treatment for TB.

He said he was able to lead a normal life because he was fortunate to have received TB treatment.

"The majority of people (hit by) AIDS in Africa are actually dying of TB," he told reporters.

Jorge Sampaio, the UN special envoy to stop TB, called for an integrated approach to treat the two diseases.

"AIDS is incurable but a victim can live with the anti-retroviral treatment," he said. "However, since the immunity system is weakened a person can die because of TB, which is curable."

His remarks coincided with a new report by UN chief Ban Ki-moon that found that anti-retroviral treatment of AIDS rose by 42 percent last year to reach three million people in low and middle income countries, roughly 30 percent of those in need.

"TB undermines investment in life-saving drug treatment for people are living with HIV," Sampaio said.

Ban was to present his new report to the UN General Assembly during a high-level meeting on AIDS beginning Tuesday.

The two-day meeting, which will bring together several heads of states and over 80 ministers, senior officials as well as representatives of civil society and international organizations, is to review progress towards UN targets agreed in 2001 and 2006.

In a related development, three non-governmental organizations, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Gay and Lesbians of Zimbabwe and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals and Gay (J-FLAG) were denied accreditation to the meeting after their respective governments objected to their participation.

"The Jamaican government itself has acknowledged that homophobia is fuelling our HIV epidemic," said Jason McFlarne, J-FLAG program manager. "Silencing J-FLAG - Jamaica's only LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people) organization undermines Jamaica's efforts to combat HIV/AIDS."

"HIV is exacting an extraordinary toll on key subpopulations, including injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and sex workers," according to a key finding of Ban's report.

"HIV prevention coverage remains especially low for such groups not because of the complexity of the task but primarily because of lack of political will," the report added.

Meanwhile, AIDS and human rights activists staged a protest outside the Thai consulate in New York to rail against the Thai government's resumption of its war on drugs.

They said that the brutal methods used by the Thai government in 2003 to eradicate drugs drove addicts underground and seriously disrupted their access to HIV treatment and prevention information.

"It is cheaper to provide a clean syringe in Thailand than the cost of the bullet the police use to shoot them," said Paisan Suwannowong, from the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group.

Source: AFP

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