Statement by Dr Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, for World AIDS Day 2009

30 November 2009 -- This year's World AIDS Day theme -- I AM -- seeks to draw the world's attention to the need to understand HIV and AIDS from the individual's perspective. It points to the right of all people, no matter who they are or where they live, to have their human rights respected. To be safe, be well and get treatment.

On this important day, we ask people around the world to consider this: people living with HIV are not in full possession of those rights if they do not receive tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment.

Too many people living with HIV are dying of TB. The facts speak for themselves. WHO reported in 2009 that one out of four TB deaths is HIV-related, twice as many as previously recognized. In 2007-the most recent year for which data are available- there were an estimated 1.37 million new cases of tuberculosis among HIV-infected people and 456 000 deaths.

In contrast, there was welcome news in October from WHO and UNAIDS that more than 4 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the close of 2008, representing a 36% increase in one year and a ten-fold increase over five years.

We must do more and do it now to stop people living with HIV from dying of tuberculosis. Countries need to find, prevent and treat tuberculosis in all people living with HIV and to test for HIV in all patients with TB in order to provide prevention, treatment and care. To do both they must developer collaborative programmes, nationwide, that address both diseases.

We wish to highlight three major developments that point to the start of a new era for tackling TB/HIV.

Michel Sidibé, appointed Executive Director of UNAIDS on 1 January 2009, has made TB/HIV a priority for UNAIDS. It is now one of the nine key areas in the UNAIDS Outcome Framework 2009-2011. The agency's ultimate goal is that no person living with HIV should die of TB.

As a follow up to the HIV/TB Global Leaders Forum in June 2008, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis, Dr Jorge Sampaio, made a commitment with the Clinton Global Initiative to increasing engagement of global leaders in supporting coordination of tuberculosis and HIV services and ensuring that their Ministries of Health implement nationwide programmatic scale up and capacity building for these combined services. In 2009 he made major steps on fulfilling this commitment. In September Dr Sampaio made a high-level visit to Kigali, Rwanda on the occasion of the 59th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa. In his remarks to the gathered health ministers Dr Sampaio, praised the progress they have made on TB, particularly on integrating TB and HIV services; while at the same time urging stronger leadership on TB. He is making high-level visits to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda for World AIDS Day.

In their joint declaration issued in July Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future, the leaders of the G8 Summit pledged to implement further efforts towards universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010, with particular focus on prevention and integration of services for HIV/TB.

We hope all of our Partners and countries will engage fully in the task of scaling up TYB/HIV collaborative services nationwide in their countries. Around the world today people are marking World AIDS Day. We ask them, as we do every year, to wear the red stop sign--which now, universally, signifies a commitment to stopping TB-- alongside their red ribbons.