“We've reached a tipping point in our war against TB”
HIV and Infectious Diseases The forthcoming UN High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB is a moment for collective action against the disease, says Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of campaign group RESULTS.
Why should people who care about HIV/AIDS, also care about TB?
The sad reality is that TB is the biggest single killer of people living with HIV/AIDS, but it's so cheap to cure. We're in a situation where, rightly, we're investing a huge amount of energy and time making sure we find people with HIV so we can get them onto treatment. But then they acquire an opportunistic infection of TB — and that can be fatal.
Why has TB not received the political attention it deserves?
Just like HIV, there's huge stigma associated with TB, so it doesn't generate a pool of advocates willing to speak out against the disease. We've become ill-informed about TB because no-one has been doing the informing. But take the strategic fightback we're now seeing in South Africa. That's an outstanding example of what happens when political attention is paid to TB.
How key is funding?
More money is one of the commitments we're looking for from the UN High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB in September. All the political will in the world and the greatest research and development capabilities don't mean a thing if no-one is prepared to fund the work.
Will the UNHLM yield real results?
I'm optimistic. Over the last few years there has been a real sea change among the global TB community. It feels as though we've reached a tipping point and TB has become impossible to ignore. Enough countries in the world now view this as a problem that we all need to solve — together.