June 13, 2008
India vs. HIV/TB Coinfection
Acknowledging that more than 60 percent of India’s HIV-positive people die of tuberculosis, the country is integrating its national HIV and TB programs, The Times of India reports (timesofindia.indiatimes.com, 6/12).
Patients diagnosed with TB will now also be offered testing for HIV; those testing positive will undergo prophylactic treatment recommended by the World Health Organization to ward off opportunistic infections like pneumonia. These combined services will be implemented in nine Indian states with high prevalences of both HIV and TB by October 1.
At the United Nations’ high-level meeting on AIDS, held June 10 and 11, leaders stressed the need to address both infections together, noting that the global prevalence of TB is further complicating the fight against AIDS.
“Selective testing for HIV will continue on those diagnosed with TB if they are found to have a high-risk behavior and are suffering from sexually transmitted diseases,” said the National AIDS Control Organization’s (NACO) national consultant for HIV, Rahul Thakur. “However, in the nine states, all TB patients, irrespective of their lifestyle, will be offered free HIV testing.”
According to Thakur, 50,000 to 80,000 people suffer from HIV/TB coinfection in India. He added that NACO identified 40,000 cases from 2007 through 2008 alone.
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