HIV/AIDS fueling massive TB crisis: UN

Published on Sep 21, 2004 01:57 PM IST

The spread of HIV/AIDS is fueling a massive tuberculosis crisis that could see 1 billion people infected in the next two decades, the UN warned.

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PTI | ByAssociated Press, Addis Ababa

The spread of HIV/AIDS is fueling a massive tuberculosis crisis that could see 1 billion people infected in the next two decades, the UN warned on Monday.

A staggering 35 million people could die of TB in that time if its growth continues unchecked, the World Health Organization said at the start of a two-day conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The conference seeks to promote joint treatment of the world's two leading killer diseases. AIDS kills 8,000 people worldwide a day, while another 5,000 die from TB.

TB is the most common infection among _ and leading killer of _ people living with HIV/AIDS.

Each year, TB infects an estimated 8.7 million people and kills 2 million. It is spread by airborne bacteria that settle in the lungs and cause long-term infection. Many people who are infected do not become ill themselves but can spread it.

Of the estimated 25 million Africans now living with HIV, about 8 million also harbor the bacillus that causes TB.

Each year, 5-10 percent of these 8 million develop active TB, and up to 4 million will develop the disease at some point in their lives, the WHO said.

The "deadly interaction" of TB and HIV threatens to evolve into a global public health crisis, said Mario Raviglione, head of the WHO fight against TB.

The danger is compounded by the appearance of drug-resistant TB strains. Urgent action is needed to stop the co-epidemic, WHO said. Earlier Monday, a senior U.S. health official called on Ethiopia's political leaders to go for public HIV tests in a bid to help end the stigma affecting those living with the virus.

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