in four tuberculosis (TB) deaths in the world is HIV-related, twice as
many as previously thought, according to a new report by the World
Health Organisation (WHO).
The Global TB Control
report, released on 24 March, World TB Day, noted that in 2007 there
were an estimated 1.37 million new cases of tuberculosis among
HIV-infected people and 456,000 deaths - almost double the figures
published in previous reports.
Yet WHO warned that this
did not mean the numbers had doubled between 2006 and 2007, but rather
indicated an "improvement in the quality of the country data, which are
now more representative, and available from more countries than in
According to the report, African countries accounted for most of the
HIV-positive TB cases, followed by the South-East Asia Region, while South Africa accounted for a third of co-infected cases in the African Region.
There was a sharp increase in HIV testing among people being treated
for TB, especially in Africa: in 2004, just four percent of TB patients
in the region were tested for HIV, but in 2007 that number rose to 37
percent, with several countries testing more than 75 percent of TB
patients for HIV infection.
As a result, more people received treatment - in 2007, 200,000
HIV-positive TB patients were enrolled in co-trimoxazole treatment to
prevent opportunistic infections and 100,000 were receiving
The report warned that TB/HIV co-infection and drug-resistant forms of
TB presented the greatest challenges. In 2007 an estimated 500,000
people had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), but less than one percent of them were receiving treatments known to be based on standards recommended by WHO.
Another major concern was the increasing lack of funding. Ninety-four
countries, in which 93 percent of the world's TB cases occur, provided
complete financial data for the report; the funding shortfall, if these
94 countries are to meet the 2009 milestones in the Stop TB
Partnership's Global Plan to Stop TB, has risen to about US$1.5
Full funding of the Global Plan could halve TB prevalence and deaths by 2015.
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