July 18, 2019—Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide and the number one cause of death among people with HIV.1,2 In countries where TB is prevalent, people with HIV/AIDS are 20 times more likely to contract TB than those without HIV.2 Next week, the HIV and global health community will gather in Mexico City for the 10th annual International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019). HIV and TB are a dual epidemic and a collaborative approach is needed if we hope to end both HIV and TB.
TB and HIV/AIDS are a deadly combination. HIV weakens people’s immune systems, allowing the TB bacteria to flourish. Dr. Francesca Conradie of the Wits Health Consortium said, “HIV is a disease that causes immunosuppression and makes patients more susceptible to acquiring TB. Not only are they more likely to get TB, the course of their TB is even worse.” Throughout her career, Dr. Conradie has been a part of the research agenda that brought effective antiretroviral therapy to millions of South Africans living with HIV. Now, she is focused on TB research, especially new treatment strategies for drug-resistant forms of TB.
HIV and global health communities have made enormous gains in battling the HIV epidemic and, according to Dr. Conradie, “we have really good treatment for HIV, and now the life expectancy of somebody with HIV is pretty much the same as someone without.” However, this deadly synergy between TB and HIV threatens to destabilize gains in the control of both diseases. While people are living with HIV, they are still dying of TB.
We cannot hope to eliminate HIV without also bringing an end to TB. For this, improved TB treatments are urgently needed, and patients must be found, treated and maintained on treatment until they’re cured.
IAS 2019 will take place on July 21-24, 2019 in Mexico City. For more information, please visit: http://www.ias2019.org/
1. World Health Organization (WHO). Global TB Report 2018. Available at: https://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/en/
2. UNAIDS. Tuberculosis and HIV. Available at: https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/tuberculosis-and-hiv-progress-towards-the-2020-target_en.pdf