A United Nations meeting scheduled for June 9 will examine the relationship between HIV and tuberculosis worldwide with the goal of creating a strategy for the millions of people living with both diseases, Jorge Sampaio, the U.N. special envoy for TB, said in New York on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
"What we need from that meeting is to come out of it with a common strategy to scale up efforts to systematically address HIV/TB co-infection," Sampaio said, adding, "Scientific knowledge leads us this way. On-the-ground experiences lead us this way."
According to Sampaio, between 12 million and 15 million people, or about one-third of HIV-positive people worldwide, are living with HIV/TB co-infection.
According to the World Health Organization's 2008 global TB report, 700,000 of the 9.2 million new TB cases reported in 2006 occurred among HIV-positive people.
Sampaio said that HIV is a "massive challenge" for global TB control, especially because of the emergence of drug-resistant TB. He said that multi-drug resistant TB is reaching record high levels and that the disease is distressing health care systems worldwide.
Only 10% of all MDR-TB cases likely will be treated this year due to shortages of drugs and laboratory facilities, Sampaio said. He called on international leaders to increase their efforts to fight TB and to ensure that there is a coordinated approach to address HIV/AIDS and TB.