WHO released a new report noting that HIV-related TB deaths are higher than in past estimates with 1.37 million new TB cases in 2007 among HIV-infected people and 456,000 deaths. The total number of new tuberculosis (TB) cases remained stable in 2007, and the percentage of the world’s population becoming ill with TB has continued the slow decline that was first observed in 2004, according to the report. However, the new 2009 global TB control report “also reveals that one out of four TB deaths is HIV-related, twice as many as previously recognized.” The new figures “reflect an improvement in the quality of the country data, which are now more representative and available from more countries than in previous years.”
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, said, “These findings point to an urgent need to find, prevent and treat tuberculosis in people living with HIV and to test for HIV in all patients with TB in order to provide prevention, treatment and care. Countries can only do that through stronger collaborative programmes and stronger health systems that address both diseases.” The report also notes a sharp increase in HIV testing among people being treated for TB, especially in Africa. In 2004, just 4% of TB patients in the region were tested for HIV; in 2007 that number rose to 37%, with several countries testing more than 75% of TB patients for their HIV status.
Because of increased testing for HIV among TB patients, more people are getting appropriate treatment though the numbers still remain a small fraction of those in need.
TB/HIV co-infection and drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis present the greatest challenges, the report says. In 2007 an estimated 500,000 people had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), but less than 1% of them were receiving treatments that was known to be based on WHO’s recommended standards.
Dr Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, commented, “We have made remarkable progress against both TB and HIV in the last few years. But, TB still kills more people with HIV than any other disease. The financial crisis must not derail the implementation of the Global Plan to Stop TB. Now is the time to scale-up financing for effective interventions for the prevention, treatment and care of TB worldwide.” To meet the 2009 milestones in the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to Stop TB, the funding shortfall for the core 94 countries has risen to about US$1.5 billion. Full funding of the Global Plan will achieve its aim of halving TB prevalence and deaths compared with 1990 levels by 2015, the report said.
Global tuberculosis control – epidemiology, strategy, financing
WHO Report 2009
WHO’s report on Global TB Control compiles data from over 200 countries and territories each year, monitoring the scale and direction of TB epidemics, implementation and impact of the Stop TB Strategy, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.