Statement from Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, on World AIDS Day 2011

1 December 2011 - Geneva - Today's World AIDS Day is a bittersweet occasion. In the past year, we have seen incredible progress in the fight against AIDS. We have also seen great results where those fighting against TB - a disease which still accounts for one in four AIDS deaths - do so alongside our partners in HIV.

But the funding crunch, which has become even more serious in recent weeks, means that there is a real danger that we will have to slow down our efforts and fail to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

As of today, we know that we will have a gap of US $1.2 billion for TB financing in 2012 alone. Can we still dream of scaling up and strengthening the fight against TB and HIV? I say yes. But we cannot only dream. We need to make it happen.

Together with UNAIDS we have a global target of halving the number of TB deaths among people living with HIV by 2015.

But we can be bolder. A scientific model produced by the Stop TB Partnership, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS shows that if countries around the world scale up simple interventions - such as screening everyone with HIV for TB - we could prevent a million deaths among people living with HIV by 2015.

These measures are not expensive. TB can be diagnosed and cured for as little as $100 in most countries.

But too few health programmes in places where both HIV and TB are prevalent are taking these steps. If that does not change, people with HIV - even those receiving ART - will continue to die of TB. More than a million and a half will die by the end of 2015.

We do not believe the world will stand by and allow the enormous progress made to date on the HIV pandemic to be reversed. New donors must and will step up to the plate. Countries with fast-growing economies - especially those that themselves have a high burden of HIV and TB - have a special responsibility to commit more funds to fight HIV and TB, both at home and abroad.

Let us not squander the huge investment the world has made in the health of people living with HIV by losing them to TB, a curable illness. Zero TB deaths among people living with HIV is an achievable goal - if not in our lifetimes, then surely in our children's lifetimes.