Dr. Carol Dukes Hamilton—co-chair of the Infectious Diseases Center for Global Health Policy and Advocacy’s Scientific Advisory Committee—seized on the new WHO co-infection data to call for a Presidential Initiative on Tuberculosis, in an op-ed published today in the Raleigh News & Observer.
With the new WHO figures showing the HIV/TB co-infection epidemic is twice as bad as previously thought, Hamilton writes: “This means that people are now surviving HIV/AIDS, only to die of TB—a curable, highly contagious disease that is now the No. 1 killer of people with HIV. It also means that drug-resistant TB is spreading across the globe with the help of HIV.”
The U.S. can’t afford to look the other way, she says, noting that drug-resistant TB is an increasing threat that could take an enormous financial and public health toll here and abroad.
Drawing a parallel to what happened in the mid-1980s in the U.S. with a resurgence of TB, Hamilton writes:
“This is why we need President Barack Obama to launch a Presidential Initiative on Tuberculosis and to scale up funding. The president should commit to tripling the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the largest funder of TB programs in developing countries. And he should quadruple the amount the US spends on its own underfunded global TB programs.
“Obama should also craft an aggressive initiative calling for:
*studies of new TB drugs, ways to shorten treatment regimens, and a more effective vaccine
*research on improved diagnostic tools
*increased laboratory capacity in developing countries
*and improved TB screening and infection-control, especially in U.S.-funded HIV clinics.”
Click here to read the full op-ed.