MEXICO CITY (Reuters Health) - A new report suggests that only 1
percent of HIV-positive patients worldwide have been screened for
tuberculosis, a curable infection that frequently kills those living
with the AIDS virus.
The low TB screening rate is "unacceptable," researchers from the
Advocacy to Control TB Internationally (ACTION) coalition said during a
press conference at the International AIDS Conference underway here.
"A mere one percent of people living with HIV/AIDS are reported to
have been screened for TB," said Dr. Jim Yong Kim, chief of the
division of social medicine and health inequalities at Harvard Medical
School. "One of the great tragedies of this epidemic is that people who
are living with HIV, after hard-fought battles for access to
antiretroviral treatment, go on to die needlessly from TB."
Quoting WHO statistics, the report says that of the 33 million
HIV-positive people worldwide, only 314,394 individuals had been tested
for tuberculosis. Of those who had been screened, over one in four were
found to have active tuberculosis, according to a press release issued
"Persons living with HIV/AIDS are 50 times more likely to develop
tuberculosis, than those who are HIV negative," the release cautions.
"Without treatment, approximately 90% of persons living with HIV/AIDS
die within a few months of developing TB."
"We are facing a preventable plague inside a devastating epidemic,"
said Michel Sidibe, assistant secretary general and deputy executive
director of UNAIDS.
Screening for tuberculosis is not mandatory in the programs being
funded by the three major international donors -- Global Fund, PREPFAR
and the World Bank, the release states.
The ACTION group recommends universal TB screening of all people
living with HIV/AIDS and access to the 3 "I"s -- Intensified case
finding, Infection control, and Isoniazid preventive therapy.