New report on children and TB, Global Fund considers new approaches to ending AIDS, and UK activists call for Blueprint

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Out of the Dark – Meeting the needs of children with TB: Last week, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) presented findings from their latest report on children and TB at the Union World Conference on Lung Health in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  The study found that a whopping 93 percent of children tested for TB are misdiagnosed, being told they don’t have the disease after being tested using sputum-smear microscopy, when later they’re confirmed to have it.  The study draws upon data collected over three years from 13 MSF projects in six countries, where 2,000 children are enrolled in TB programs.  The report indicates that testing children using methods that require sputum often yields misdiagnoses because sputum-based tests do not detect paucibacillary or extrapulmonary TB that occurs more frequently in children.  In addition, very young children are unable to supply sputum.  The report acknowledges that although the GeneXpert test requires sputum as well, it is still an improvement over smear microscopy and can aid in the diagnosis of drug-resistant TB in children.  The report also finds that pediatric drug formulations and international treatment guidance for children remain inadequate.  TB remains one of the top ten killers of children worldwide, killing 130,000 children a year.

Here I Am: New tools to begin the end of AIDS:  While governments, UN organizations, NGOs, private sector companies, and other stakeholders met last week in Geneva at the Global Fund for HIV, TB, and Malaria’s board meeting, Kenyan TB and HIV advocate Lucy Chesire interviewed Bernhard Schwartländer of UNAIDS about the Global Fund’s new people-centered investment approach.  Schwartländer, the Director of Evidence, Innovation and Policy at UNAIDS, explained that although we’ve come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years and have gained substantial success, we could be doing much better.  The new approach “focuses on just five types of basic programme action that on their own or in combination should be used in specific settings depending on the nature of the HIV epidemic in each country.” The new approach also advocates “doing the right things the right way,” and radically simplifying approaches, such as “shifting many tasks away from specialized doctors to community health workers, and working with communities so that community members reach out to those in greatest need and make sure they access treatment services and keep taking their AIDS medicines.”  Schwartländer calls for scaling up both domestic and international investment from $16-17 billion a year to $22-24 billion a year in low- and middle-income countries, to see a rapid return on investments while beginning to see a decline in the money we need to fight AIDS.

Call for UK Blueprint for HIV-Free Generation:  Ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1st, HIV/AIDS activists in the UK are calling for their government to develop a blueprint for achieving an AIDS-free generation.  Activists say the Blueprint should underpin the UK’s leadership in fighting HIV as the world’s second largest donor of the international response.  A detailed blueprint should map out the UK’s role in a global HIV response and allow for investing “enough funds in the right programmes for the right people.”  Activists want a UK blueprint to commit to demonstrating political leadership globally to achieve an AIDS-free generation, commit to maintain current levels of UK international aid going to HIV, and commit to investing smartly by focusing on all people affected HIV, while promoting human rights-based approaches to HIV.

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