More advocacy and collaboration needed to tackle the HIV-TB co-epidemic

Urvashi Prasad, CNS Correspondent, India
A person living with HIV (PLHIV) is 26 to 31 times more likely to develop active TB as compared to someone who is HIV negative because of a considerably weakened immune system. It is estimated that of the 1.2 million HIV deaths in 2014, one in three was attributable to HIV-TB co-infection. HIV and TB are a deadly combination. In fact, TB is able to spread more easily in PLHIV. This is why extra-pulmonary TB is more common in TB-HIV patients.

Tackling the HIV-TB co-infection

Josephine Chinele, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
Last week global health professionals, TB and HIV specialists, researchers, civil society members and communities affected by TB and/or HIV deliberated at TB 2016 (followed by AIDS 2016) in Durban, South Africa. These two conferences were convened by the International AIDS Society (IAS).

Double up efforts to fight the double epidemic of TB-HIV

Alice Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
It is no news that the TB bacteria and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) together make up a co-epidemic that presents compounded complications in patients who host them, healthcare workers who have to manage the diseases, advocates and researchers fighting for answers as well as communities who have to cope with the disastrous effects of the co-epidemics.

India takes measure to check prevent HIV/TB infection

Aarti Dhar, CNS Correspondent, India
[First published in]
Bearing a very high burden of highly infection Tuberculosis (TB) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), India is in the process of implementing more effective measures to check the spread of the two deadly diseases. The National Aids Control Organisation will soon put in place measures to control air-borne infection at Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) Centres and associated HIV care setting.

Hope on the horizon for people living with MDR-TB

Catherine Mwauyakufa, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
More efficacious medications are needed in the successful treatment of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) if we are to realise the goal of ending  TB by 2030, as envisaged in the sustainable development goals (SDGs). World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 480,000 new MDR-TB cases were noted in 2014. Also treatment success rate stands at 50% globally. Something urgent needs to be done to save lives of people with MDR-TB.

COPUA engages political leaders on Termination of Pregnancy bill

Mercy Chaluma, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
[First published in]
The Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe abortion COPUA has called on political leaders in the country to help it in the passing of the termination of pregnancy bill which is expected to be tabled in parliament soon. Policy Advisor for the Organisation Luke Tembo made the call in Mangochi during a workshop to sensitise political leaders on the problem of unsafe abortion and the need to pass the revised bill so that women are able to access safe abortion at public health facilities.

Govt. geared to fight TB in prisons

Mercy Chaluma, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
[First published in]
Government is set to start screening all prisoners for Tuberculosis – TB in all the prisons of the country as one way of eliminating the disease. According to Minister of Health Dr Peter Kumpalume, the initiative is coming at a time when statistics shows that 50% of prisoners in Malawi have TB which translates to the highest number of concentration of TB patients in the country.

[AIDS 2016] Self-stigma: Let us do more than just 'talk about it'

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
[Watch SESSION RECORDING here] [CNS images] Senior HIV activists who have not only helped shape HIV responses on the ground over the years, but also have been living with the virus for several years, shared their personal battle against self-stigma at a press conference session hosted by The Work For Change and partners at the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) held in Durban, South Africa.

How to prevent people living with HIV from dying of TB

Francis Okoye, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
At a time in the history of the world (1980’s), for anyone to test positive for HIV was a death sentence. Today medical science has developed robust treatment regimens that allow people living with HIV (PLHIV) to live long, as far as they have access to anti retroviral therapy (ART). But of late, this has been jeopardised with the advancement of TB infections in PLHIV. TB and HIV are deeply intertwined, particularly in Sub saharan  Africa. TB has become the leading cause of death among those who are HIV-positive, despite the fact that today HIV infections can be managed with ART and TB can be cured in the vast majority of cases.

[AIDS 2016] We cannot end AIDS by 2030 if we put SRHR on blindspot

Integrated TB-HIV responses are a must to meet Sustainable Development Goals

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
At the 2015 United Nations General Assembly, governments  committed to achieve SDGs by 2030, one of which is to end AIDS and TB by 2030. If people living with HIV continue to die of TB, we will not only fail to achieve SDGs but also lose gains made in the fights against HIV and TB.

[AIDS 2016] Battling with three diseases and still going strong

Dr Samele Madela
Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
(Based on an exclusive interview with Nqobile Zungu, and her doctor Dr Samele Madela) I met 37 years old Nqobile Zungu, at the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) that is being held in Durban. And yes, her looks were deceptive in the sense that one could never guess that her outwardly healthy body and cheerful attitude masked not one but three diseases. Now a mother of two kids, aged 12 and 8 years, Nqobile suffered from asthma from early childhood. In 2002, when she was 23 years old, she was diagnosed with diabetes.  She went to a clinic and reported her symptom of itching in her private parts, but did not think it important enough to tell that she was also urinating frequently. The medication she got did not improve her condition.

[AIDS 2016] We cannot eliminate TB if we leave children behind

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
"Children are central to where we are heading for in TB control. If we aim to end TB in the next 20 years we should know the trends in infection and disease in the paediatric population and amend it," said Dr Jennifer Furin of Harvard Medical School, at a session in International TB Conference (TB 2016) - a two-day conference dedicated exclusively to this infectious disease - that immediately preceded the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) being currently held in port city of Durban. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that nearly 1 million children get infected with TB and more than 30,000 children become sick every year with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

South African and Indian groups honour Ashok Ramsarup for people-centric journalism

(L to R) Dr Ishwar Gilada, President AIDS Society of India;
awardee journalist Ashok Ramsarup; Mahatma Gandhi's grand
daughter Ela Gandhi and CNS head Shobha Shukla
[CNS Images] South African and Indian groups honoured longstanding journalist Ashok Ramsarup for his inspiring journalism covering health and development issues in South Africa, India and other nations in South Asia.

[AIDS 2016] Count the people at HIV risk right: Is money being spent or sitting in banks?

A recent UNAIDS report shows that decline in new HIV infections among adults has stalled. In 2014, key populations, including gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and their clients, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners, accounted for 35% of new HIV infections globally. It is estimated that MSM are 24 times more likely to become infected with HIV and transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than adults in the general population.

[AIDS 2016] I am not good enough: Is that true?

[Click here to watch this session's recording] "Some say (internal) stigma, some say (self) stigma – either way let’s do more than talk about it." If you are attending XXI International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) do not miss out on attending a session with a difference.

International AIDS Conferences: From Durban to Durban - has anything changed in 16 years?

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Photo courtesy: The Hans India
AIDS2016, the XXI International AIDS Conference - (with the theme of 'Access Equity Rights Now') which will be held in Durban, South Africa, from 18 to 22 July 2016, marks a dramatic change in the country’s AIDS response in the 16 years since XIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2000), which was also held in Durban.

A shorter MDR-TB treatment regimen can improve treatment adherence

Urvashi Prasad, CNS Correspondent, India
India has over 2 million new cases of TB—a disease that is treatable and curable— every year. Yet, many succumb to it and many encounter drug resistance. A person with multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is not responsive to at least one of the two main TB drugs. Studies have shown that MDR-TB is found in approximately 3% of new TB cases and between 12%-17% of re-treatment cases. In India given the high burden of TB, this translates into large numbers in absolute terms.

WHO introduces new treatment regimen for multi drug resistant TB

Josephine Chinele, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
The World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced new recommendations for the treatment of multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients, which shortens the treatment duration from the current 24 months to 9-12 months. MDR-TB and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) are able to withstand certain antibiotics used in typical TB drug regimens.

[AIDS 2016] We cannot end AIDS by 2030 if we put SRHR on blindspot

A Press Conference session will be organized jointly by AIDS Society of India (ASI), CNS (Citizen News Service), Family Planning Association of India (FPA India), Microbicides Society of India (MSI), Gujarat AIDS Prevention unit ISRCDE, ANPUD, ARUNA and partners at the XXI International AIDS Conference 2016 (AIDS 2016) in Durban, South Africa. Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are integral to development justice.

[AIDS 2016] Can we afford to lose gains made in fight against HIV and TB? Integrated responses must to meet SDGs by 2030!

[Watch the recording of this session at AIDS 2016] A Press Conference session will be organized jointly by AIDS Society of India (ASI), CNS (Citizen News Service), Lilly MDR TB Partnership, Gujarat AIDS Prevention unit ISRCDE, ARUNA and partners around International TB Conference (TB 2016) and XXI International AIDS Conference 2016 (AIDS 2016).

Health Justice Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 to Ashok Ramsarup

Health Justice Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 will be conferred upon award-winning senior journalist Ashok Ramsarup in Durban, South Africa. Health Justice Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 is co-hosted by AIDS Society of India (ASI), Gandhi Development Trust in South Africa, People's Health Organization (PHO), Asha Parivar and CNS (Citizen News Service). It will be conferred upon Ashok Ramsarup on International Nelson Mandela Day (18th July 2016) in Phoenix Settlement, Durban, South Africa with kind help from Ela Gandhi of Gandhi Development Trust who is consistently working for a just and social order. Ela Gandhi is also Mahatma Gandhi's grand-daughter.

Right to road must first go to pedestrians, non-motorised vehicles

CNS photo of two children cycling wearing helmets received
in Titiksha Pathak Sankalp Diwas
"It did not strike me even for a second how fatal it could be for my child to ride a two-wheeler as a pillion rider - without a helmet. If I was conscious about the risk then I would have definitely given a helmet to my child" said the mother of a child who died in an unfortunate road accident in Lucknow in March 2016.

Towards a TB-free world: Shorter MDR-TB regimen

Dr Richa Sharma, Citizen News Service, India
The world is no stranger to the deadly TB phenomenon and has been equally terrified of the magnanimous proportion of MDR-TB cases that are being reported globally. MDR-TB is a form of TB in which the bacteria develops resistance to at least isoniazid and rifampicin—the two most powerful antimicrobial drugs used to treat ordinary TB.

[Call to register] Webinar for media in lead up to TB 2016 and AIDS 2016

[Watch webinar recording] We welcome you to register for an exclusive media webinar in lead up to International TB Conference (16-17 July 2016) and XXI International AIDS Conference (18-22 July 2016) in Durban, South Africa. Governments of all UN member nations have committed to end TB and AIDS by 2030 by adopting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But unless we ensure people living with HIV are not dying of TB we will not only fail to meet SDGs but also lose gains made in fighting TB and HIV globally.

MDR-TB treatment regimen: Short indeed is beautiful

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
WHO recently announced new recommendations to speed up diagnosis and improve treatment outcomes for multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) through the use of a novel rapid diagnostic test called MTBDRsl, and a shorter, cheaper 9-12 month treatment regimen. The new treatment regimen can be completed in 9-12 months— less than half the time required by the current 24-month treatment standard used worldwide.

Hope for patients suffering from multi drug resistant TB

Tuyeimo Haidula, CNS Correspondent, Namibia
Patients suffering from multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) may have the  likelihood of a higher cure success rate after the World Health Organization approved a new treatment regimen for it. The new WHO approved treatment is more patient friendly and aims to speed up diagnosis and improve treatment outcomes for MDR-TB in a shorter and cheaper way.