12 December 2013 - Cape Town - Representatives of communities affected by tuberculosis (TB) made their presence felt at the 2103 International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) this week, impressing upon conference delegates the need to ensure that all TB and HIV programmes are fully integrated.
Referring to the conference theme Now more than ever targeting zero, they marched through the venue with banners carrying the message Now more than ever, TB-HIV collaboration.
The community representatives, whose attendance was supported by GIZ and the Stop TB Partnership, also used the conference as an opportunity to call for action following an announcement by the Global Fund that mandated joint TB/HIV proposals from countries with high burdens of both disease.
Dr Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, strongly endorsed the community representatives’ calls for integration, telling delegates at the closing ceremony that the next ICASA meeting should add TB to its name so that the disease receives the emphasis it deserves.
"HIV and TB are like two evil twins and we have the power and the responsibility to release them and we have the power and the responsibility to defeat them," he said.