Thursday 24 March 2011 marks World Tuberculosis Day.
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most common causes of death in the developing world and is extremely dangerous to those living with HIV and AIDS.
The link between TB and HIV
Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people with HIV, even those receiving antiretroviral treatment. In 2008 there were an estimated 1.4 million HIV positive TB patients, approximately 500,000 of which died, despite the fact TB is curable.
A HIV-positive person infected with TB has a 50 to 60 per cent lifetime risk of developing the illness due to their weakened immune system as compared to an HIV-negative person who has a 10 per cent risk.
Christian Aid’s work on TB
Both HIV and TB are illnesses of poverty, placing a heavy economic burden on endemic countries. Stigma around HIV causes a delay in accessing health services, and people’s low understanding on the relationship between TB and HIV increases preventable illnesses and fatalities.
For many years, the efforts to tackle TB and HIV have been largely separate, however, Christian Aid’s work on HIV and health is being broadened to further recognise that only through combined and coordinated efforts can epidemics be halted.
Vestina (pictured in 2007), is a young orphaned girl living with HIV who nearly died when she was infected with TB.
She missed a whole year of school, but thankfully managed to get treatment at a hospital.
Local community carers from Zambian partner, Anglican Diocese of Lusaka (ADL), encouraged her grandparents to get her tested for HIV and then helped them take care of her and get access to the medication and nutritional supplements she needed.
Working in existing partnerships
Christian Aid will work with its existing 148 partners addressing HIV-related issues in 40 countries to deliver a response to TB through existing community networks and volunteers.
We aim to decrease the burden of TB through increased access to testing, screening, and preventive therapy. We are also working towards heightened awareness of TB and increased provision of care and support to those infected, or at risk of infection.
By advocating at a country level, Christian Aid and its partners will help to influence the adoption of collaborative TB and HIV activities in countries severely affected by these illnesses, and lobby for adequate treatment.
Source: Statistics from the World Health Organisation 2010.
More about Christian Aid's work on HIV