Karachi: Effective collaboration between health services to protect people from AIDS and tuberculosis saved nearly 910,000 lives globally over six years, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO asserted that there had been a sharp rise in the numbers of HIV positive people tested for tuberculosis (TB) and vice versa from 2005 to 2010.
This had allowed doctors to treat people more quickly and thwart the spread of TB to other patients, it added.
Because the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS weakens the immune system, people with it are much more vulnerable to being infected with TB. Approximately 34 million people around the world have HIV.
TB kills around 1.7 million people a year. Death rates among HIV patients are high, especially in poorer countries.
The WHO insisted that over 100 countries are presently testing at least half of their TB patients for HIV.
“Progress was especially noteworthy in Africa where the number of countries testing more than half their TB patients for HIV rose from five in 2005 to 31 in 2010,” it said.
The number of HIV positive people screened for TB rose almost 12-fold, from almost 200,000 in 2005 to more than 2.3 million in 2010, the WHO said, as it released data on the impact of its 2004 guidelines on TB and HIV, the News International reported.
Based on the success shown by the 2004 to 2010 data, the WHO issued an updated global policy to expedite coordination of public health services to try to cut TB/HIV death rates further.
“This framework is the international standard for the prevention, care and treatment of TB and HIV patients to reduce deaths - and we have strong evidence that it works,” said Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s Stop TB department.