U.N., Stop TB Partnership begin HIV/TB push

The United Nations recently began a new push to reduce the number of HIV-related tuberculosis deaths in Africa and India.

The U.N.-led initiative is the result of an agreement between the Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS and the Stop TB Partnership. It aims to cut the number of HIV-related TB deaths in half by targeting ten countries with high infection rates, according to

The initiative hopes to reduce the number of deaths from HIV-related TB by a total of 600,000 in Nigeria, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These countries account for nearly 75 percent of all HIV/TB cases.

"TB/HIV is a deadly combination. We can stop people from dying of HIV/TB co-infection through integration and simplification of HIV and TB services," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said, reports.

TB remains the leading cause of death among HIV patients despite recent gains. Increased access to antiretroviral therapy for patients in the developing world has already led to a 13 percent reduction in HIV/TB deaths over the last two years.

"TB is preventable and curable at low cost, yet we still have one in four AIDS-related deaths caused by TB, and this is outrageous," Dr. Lucica Ditiu, the executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, said, reports. "Through a new agreement, UNAIDS and the Stop TB Partnership have committed to a strong agenda of action, engaging new partners and assisting the most heavily affected countries as they integrate their HIV and TB services and build action plans."