Collaborative TB/HIV activities: World TB Day

The theme of this year’s World TB Day 2012 is “Stop TB in my lifetime” with a special focus on childhood TB. One of the critical areas is HIV/TB combined epidemics. HIV is not only a major risk factor for tuberculosis, but children with HIV are at markedly increased risk of TB.

On this World TB Day 2012, the detrimental effects of HIV and TB on women and children need to be reiterated:

  • pregnant women living with HIV are ten times more likely to develop active TB than those without HIV;
  • TB is a leading infectious cause of death during pregnancy and delivery, particularly among women living with HIV;
  • TB during pregnancy increases the risk that babies will be born prematurely or with a low birth weight;
  • TB in a pregnant woman living with HIV more than doubles the risk of vertical transmission of HIV to the unborn child;
  • most children get TB from a family member;
  • TB is both preventable and curable in women and children, regardless of HIV status. The Three “I”s for HIV/TB (isoniazid preventive treatment, infection control for TB, and intensified case finding for TB) and earlier ART significantly reduce the risk of TB.

WHO/Europe, as part of its ongoing work to revise region-specific clinical protocols on HIV/AIDS treatment and care originally published in 2007 is updating its own guidance on the management of TB/HIV co-infection.

Management of TB/HIV infected pregnant women is reflected in the revised recently launched clinical protocol “Prevention of HIV transmission from HIV-infected mothers to their infants: optimizing clinical management and effective interventions towards eliminating new pediatric HIV infections”. Clinical protocol “HIV treatment and care for children” which will be launched in 2012, addresses clinical management of TB/HIV coinfected children, including diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis and ART in HIV-infected children.