More than 1 Million People Are Coinfected with HIV and Tuberculosis, WHO Report Says

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week issued a new report looking at the global status of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to control the disease. The agency estimates that 9.4 million people became newly infected with TB in 2009, of whom 1.1 million were HIV positive. Although the TB death rate has fallen by one-third since 1990, there were still an estimated 1.7 million TB deaths -- or nearly 5000 per day -- in 2009. The continued spread of difficult-to-treat multidrug-resistance TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) are growing concerns; XDR-TB has now been confirmed in 58 countries, according to the report.





In related news, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development recently launched the first clinical trial to test several anti-TB drug candidates at the same time, according to a recent Business Daynews report. This could revolutionize development of treatment for diseases -- like TB, HIV, and hepatitis C -- that require combination therapy.

Below is an edited excerpt from a WHO press release and fact sheet describing the report and its findings.

The full Global Tuberculosis Control 2010 report and an accompanying fact sheet are available online at Report here

Launch of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Control Report 2010

Geneva -- November 11, 2010 -- The World Health Organization today issued its most comprehensive report ever on the progress being made in combating the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic. The publication contains the very latest data, and for the first time also includes online profiles from 212 countries and territories.

"The findings in the Global Tuberculosis Control 2010 publication confirm that when WHO's best practices are put in place, and with the right amount of funding and commitments from governments, we can turn the tide on the TB epidemic," said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department. "Since 1995, we have seen considerable improvements in the quality of TB care, and these improvements are having a positive impact in some of the world's poorest countries. Since 1995, 41 million people have been cured and 6 million lives have been saved. These are major successes that have been achieved largely without any 'magic bullet'."

"However, with 1.7 million people dying from tuberculosis last year -- including 380,000 women, many of whom were young mothers -- these successes are far too fragile. No government is doing too much in TB. Commitments are being short-changed. If governments are genuinely committed to stopping TB, they must seize all the opportunities that are available right now and all the opportunities that may come in the near future."

Among the successes highlighted in the report are:

  • TB mortality -- there has been a 35% drop in the TB death rate since 1990 -- from a rate of 30 in 1990 to 20 per 100,000 population in 2009.
  • TB Incidence -- Rate per capita per 100,000 of people sick with TB continues declining slowly.
  • 2015 Global Targets -- The world is on track to reach Millennium Development Goal for TB incidence, and the Stop TB Partnership 2015 target for mortality.
  • Quality of Care -- there has been major progress in improving access to diagnosis and treatment, and also in the scale up of TB/HIV intervention [and] laboratory strengthening

Major challenges still exist:

  • Deaths -- 1.7 million died in 2009 from what is a curable disease
  • Incidence -- though falling, it is falling too slowly. Under the current rate of decline, TB will not be eliminated in our lifetime.
  • MDR-TB response -- the response is still insufficient and more efforts are needed to scale up and strengthen programs, especially with 440,000 new cases emerging each year, and that less than 5% of those cases being properly treated.



World Health Organization. Global Tuberculosis Control 2010.

World Health Organization. Launch of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Control Report 2010. Press release. November 11, 2010.

T Kahn. Global Body Begins TB Drug Trials. Business Day. November 11, 2010.