Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) worldwide. It kills up to half of all HIV patients.
Without proper treatment, approximately 90% of those living with HIV die within months of contracting TB. TB considerably shortens the life and survival of people with HIV.
The country officer of the UNAIDS in The Gambia, Nuha Ceesay, on Saturday said globally, an estimated 13% of TB cases are co-infected with HIV and at least one third of the nearly 33 million people living with HIV are infected with the bacterium that causes TB.
“The dual epidemic is particularly pervasive in Africa, where 80% of the total global burden of dual HIV/TB cases is found,” he said while speaking at the commencement of a two-day training on HIV-Tuberculosis (TB) co-infection organised by the Association of Health Journalists (AoHJ) for its members, with the financial support of the UNAIDS.
“It is apparent that without urgent and long-term action, the epidemic will continue to take an unacceptable toll of death and suffering in countries and communities throughout,” he added.
Alieu Wurie, of National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, said in 2011, 1.3 million people, equivalent to 13% of the 8.7 million people who developed TB globally, were HIV positive.
He said 79% of these HIV positive cases were in Africa.
He pointed out that in 2011, 79% of the TB patients were patients known to be HIV positive and were provided with co-trimoxazole preventive therapy (CPT).
Nationally, he said The Gambia had developed a collaborative TB and HIV framework the objectives of which include decreasing the burden of both TB and HIV in the country.