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SPC hosts workshops on TB and HIV/TB co-infection

SPC Press Release

SPC hosts workshops on TB and HIV/TB co-infection in the Pacific

Noumea, 28.07.06 - Representatives of Health Ministries from 20 Pacific Island countries and territories will gather today in Noumea, New Caledonia, for the first of three successive meetings on tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/TB co-infection.

The first meeting is a two-day workshop on estimating the TB burden in the region. TB is a serious public health concern in several Pacific Islands with some countries reporting among the highest rates of TB in the world and an estimated 20,000 Pacific Islanders becoming ill every year.

From 30 July to 3 August, the Third Pacific STOP TB Meeting will review the implementation of TB treatment in the region and use the results to guide progress towards achieving targets for 2010. The meeting will also focus on emerging issues that are likely to impact on TB control.

Where there is TB, there is the added danger of TB/HIV co-infection. The two diseases are mutually reinforcing: HIV weakens the immune system and TB takes advantage of this weakness. TB can spread rapidly with deadly impact among people living with HIV and with 12 000 cases of HIV already reported in the Pacific, high rates of co-infection have the potential to affect entire communities. To coordinate action to reduce this threat, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will host the first TB/HIV Co-infection Meeting for PICTs from 3 to 4 August.

The meetings, which have been jointly organized by SPC and the World Health Organization (WHO), will also be attended by representatives from AusAID, NZAID, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and TB laboratories in Australia and New Zealand.

ENDS

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