“Partners in Crime” — TB and HIV

TB and HIV are the numbers one and two, respectively, infectious disease killers in the world.  Of the 1.7 million people who died of TB in 2016, nearly 400,000 people were co-infected with HIV.

According to WHO, TB is the leading cause of death among people with HIV, accounting for some 370,000 people who died from HIV-associated TB in 2016.  Globally, people living with HIV (PLHIV) are 21 times more likely to fall ill with TB than those without HIV.  Without proper treatment nearly all HIV positive people with TB will die.  HIV/AIDS and TB constitute a deadly combination that speeds the progression of illness and death.

While the challenges are great, there is hopeful news.  6.2 million lives have been saved of people with HIV through scale-up of collaborative TB/HIV activities since 2005.  There are 82% known HIV status among notified TB cases in Africa, up from 22% in 2006.  And, 1.3 million PLHIV stated TB preventative treatment up from 27,000 in 2006.

And, additional hope is on the horizon.  As recommended by WHO, routine HIV testing should be offered to all patients with presumptive and diagnosed TB.  Some progress has been made on the front.  Globally, in 2016, 3.6 million of new and relapse TB patients had a documented HIV test — up from 3.4 million in 2015.  Moreover, it is recommended that TB patients should receive antiretroviral therapy two- to eight-weeks after TB treatment has started.