UNAIDS Executive Director meets with TB Programme Managers, TB civil society
26 March 2009
Mr Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, met with managers of national TB programmes and civil society representatives at the 3rd Stop TB Partners Forum to hear their views on ways to improve the joint response to TB and HIV.
One participant, in sharing his experience of addressing TB and HIV co-infection in Zambia, urged Mr Sidibé to use his position to mobilize greater leadership in confronting the twin epidemics of TB and HIV and to bring the AIDS and TB movements closer together. He stressed that the epidemics of TB and HIV can no longer be addressed in isolation. To illustrate the point one participant from Malawi gave a simple example of how, until recently, the TB movement was rarely visible at international AIDS conferences, and vice versa. This was emphasized when a participant from India asked, “When the virus and the bacteria work so well together, why can’t we?”
When the virus and the bacteria work so well together, why can’t we? It is not acceptable that people living with HIV die from TB.
Meeting participant from India
The participants agreed that TB is undermining the recent successes made in responding to HIV, reiterating the findings of the recent WHO World TB Control report that revealed that the impact of TB among people living with HIV is much greater than previously understood, as a result of better data coming from countries.
More TB screening for people living with HIV—through fully integrated TB/HIV services—would be an important and an essential step to reduce TB’s burden on people living with HIV. Additional points raised by the group were more funds, better trained staff and research to allow for better TB screening and prevention for people living with HIV and more advocacy and public awareness initiatives on TB and HIV co-infection.
Mr Sidibé asked TB programme managers and TB civil society to work closer with their peers in the HIV response to better “reach affected people out in the communities”. He closed this first conversation with TB programme managers and TB civil society by stating that “it is not acceptable that people living with HIV die from TB”—a key message he repeated throughout the three-day Stop TB Partners’ Forum.