By Shobha Shukla
Sep 8: (CNS): Fuelled by the HIV pandemic and the spread of drug-resistant strains, tuberculosis (TB) has re-emerged as a major threat to global health. TB is a curable disease that continues to affect millions of people globally each year, and is a leading cause of death in HIV positive people. According to the 2009 WHO Report on Global TB Control, there were 9.4 million new TB cases in 2008, out of which 1.4 million (14%) were HIV positive (78% of them were in Africa and 13% in Southeast Asia). Mortality from TB was 1.7 million, and about 0.5 million of these deaths were in People Living with HIV (PLHIV), who are at a much increased risk of contracting TB. In high burden HIV settings (like the sub Saharan region) more than 70% of TB patients are living with HIV. So, universal access to HIV care cannot be achieved without addressing TB.
To make matters worse, over the last decade, 5 million people developed drug-resistant TB, but less than 1% had access to appropriate treatment, and 1.5 million died. Only 7% of the estimated 440,000 MDR-TB cases in 2008 were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), and only about 1% of the patients were enrolled under programs to provide internationally quality assured treatment. India is home to 2.5 million people living with HIV and bears one fourth of the estimated global burden of MDR-TB.