AIDS Alliance has joined the Department of AIDS Control (DAC) and the Central TB Division (CTD) for creating awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) among people living with HIV (PLHIV).
On the occasion of World TB Day today, Alliance India implemented Vihaan, a programme for PLHIV in 31 states and territories to help expand access to services, increase treatment adherence, reduce stigma and discrimination, and improve the quality of life of PLHIV.
"Vihaan is committed to increasing awareness of TB among the PLHIV served by the programme and, through intensified testing, ensuring that co-infected clients are fully supported to complete the full course of treatment," said James Robertson, Executive Director of India HIV/AIDS Alliance.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major concern for PLHIV as their impaired immune systems make them particularly vulnerable to the disease. In spite of this, it remains difficult to persuade PLHIV to undergo testing for TB. The double stigma of TB and HIV often keeps PLHIV from visiting clinics to learn their TB status, added Robertson.
"PLHIV are among the most vulnerable to falling ill with TB. We need to do more to diagnose PLHIV infected with TB and reach out to them with treatment," said Manoj Pardesi, General Secretary of the National Coalition of PLHIV in India.
The total number of PLHIV in India is currently estimated at 21 lakh, which is third highest in the world according to the Annual Report 2012-13 of Department of AIDS Control.
India is also has the highest TB burden in the world with an estimated 2.2 million new TB cases occurring annually.
"Regular screening of all PLHIV for TB is utmost important for prevention of TB mortality in this group," said Dr R S Gupta, Deputy Director General of CTD.
HIV and TB co-infection can be fatal. It is estimated that nearly 25 per cent of AIDS deaths in India are TB- related.