TB and AIDS Advocates Call for Joint Action and Prioritizing Communities in the TB and HIV Response at the United Nations in New York

07 April 2016 - New York, USA - Over 100 civil society voices from the TB and HIV communities joined together at UN Headquarters in New York yesterday to call for stronger integration of TB and HIV programs if the world is to reach the UN goals to End TB and HIV by 2030.

The event, ‘Uniting Communities to End AIDS and TB by 2030’, was jointly organized by the Stop TB Partnership and UNAIDS on the sidelines of the UN Civil Society Hearings for HIV/AIDS, which brought together civil society representatives from around the world to share their views and priorities for the UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on HIV/AIDS taking place in June 2016.

"TB is the leading killer of People Living with HIV. There can be no end of AIDS if we don’t address HIV and TB coinfection," said Dr. Luis Loures, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, who moderated the event. "The power to transform the AIDS and TB response is in the hands of civil society. The HLM is a historic opportunity for transformative action."

"We have no hope of ending AIDS by 2030 unless we drastically scale up the global response to TB," said Mr Austin Obiefuna, Executive Director of Afro Global Alliance and board member of the Stop TB Partnership, who delivered opening remarks at the meeting. "TB is by far the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. Let's make today the starting line to put the world on course to end AIDS and TB by 2030."

The importance of putting civil society, human rights, and patient focused treatment at the centre of the response to AIDS and TB was a key theme of the meeting. "Advocating for change is impossible without community involvement. We can all support more integration, but it means nothing if countries leave human rights off the agenda," said Anele Yawa, General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign.

The meeting also discussed joint priorities for the UN HLM on AIDS, where member states will agree to a Political Declaration that will outline government priorities and commitments to the global AIDS response. Strong language on community engagement, human rights, and greater integration of AIDS and TB programmes were discussed as key priorities, along with affordable access to medicines and sustainable funding for services and treatment.

The Stop TB Partnership will be supporting the HIV community in pushing for bold commitments on HIV/AIDS, as well as strong joint targets on TB and HIV as called for in the WHO End TB strategy and the Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020.

"Despite having a diagnostic test and a cure, people are still dying from TB at horrendous levels. That’s unacceptable. We need advocates to raise expectations for education, empowerment, quality programs, new tools and treatments, and a vaccine." - Shannon Hader, Director of the Division of Global HIV and TB, CDC

"I feel angry that TB is claiming so many lives when it has a cure, including members of my own family. We have many policies, but have they been implemented? How many health facilities have adequate infection control? How many districts have adopted active case finding or contract tracing? These are the questions we need to ask." - Thokozile Phumizile, Stop TB Partnership Board Member and Executive Director of Facilitators of Community Transformation (FACT)

"As someone who has been affected by both AIDS and TB, there are many things that need to change. People still fear and stigmatize TB and policies still violate our human rights. Treatment must be optimized for women and children who have unique needs. TB programs must go into the workplace to reach more men." - Albertina Zodwa, Founder and Director, Organisation of Women Living with HIV in Swaziland

"In my country 60% of HIV deaths are caused by TB, which includes several of my friends. The human rights of people who use drugs must be paramount, who continue to have low access to TB and AIDS services due to lack of service integration. Advocating for change is impossible without community involvement." - Anton Basenko, Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine