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Global Leaders Gather At ForumTo Tackle TB Threat

Global leaders gather at UN forum to tackle tuberculosis threat

9 June 2008 - On the eve of a high-level meeting on AIDS, government leaders, health and business officials, heads of United Nations agencies and activists are gathering in New York today to confront tuberculosis, the leading cause of death for people living with HIV.

The first HIV/TB Global Leaders' Forum brings together participants such as Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), to discuss the impact of the TB and HIV epidemics.

TB accounts for an estimated quarter of a million deaths each year among those living with HIV and is the number one cause of death among people living with HIV in Africa.

Recently, WHO, UNAIDS and the UN Children's Fund announced that some three million people are now receiving life-saving anti-retroviral treatment. However, TB, especially drug-resistant forms of the disease, threatens to hinder this progress.

HIV and TB, according to UNAIDS, are so closely connected that they are often referred to as co-epidemics or dual epidemics that drive and reinforce one another.

Since HIV weakens the immune system, people living with the virus are up to 50 times more likely to develop TB than those who are HIV negative. Without proper treatment with anti-TB drugs, the majority of people living with HIV die within two to three months of becoming sick with TB.

Today's Forum, which is co-sponsored by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Stop TB Partnership, is expected to produce a Call for Action to drastically cut the number of deaths associated with HIV/TB.

The meeting is convened by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Stop TB, Dr. Jorge Sampaio.

ENDS

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