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TB Poses New Threat In War Against AIDS

Times of India
03 September 2010
By V Mayilvaganan
Karur, India

A significant increase in the incidence of HIV–Tuberculosis co–infection in the western districts of Karur, Namakkal, Salem and Erode has emerged as a fresh threat in the battle against HIV in Tamil Nadu. Alarmed health officials are planning to chalk out methods to address the threat immediately even as NGOs working for people living with HIV allege that inefficient monitoring mechanism and lack of awareness among public were reasons for the situation.

TB Poses New Threat In War Against AIDS
In Karur, one of the high HIV/AIDS–prevalent districts in the country, percentage of people with HIV developing tuberculosis was more than 24%, much more than the global average of 15%. In fact, the World Health Organisation views even the 15% co–infection as a serious challenge, say activists.

"In Namakkal and Salem, the HIV–TB co–infection rate is between 25 and 30%,’’ state health secretary VK Subburaj told TOI. "We are working out strategies to tackle the increase. Priority is to create awareness among the public," he said.

A TANSACS official said the higher prevalence of co–infection came as a surprise for them during a recent review of HIV prevalence in the state. "We are investigating the reasons for the high prevalence in these districts," he said. However, he said there were districts with much higher prevalence in states like Andhra Pradesh.

Activists working for the welfare of people living with HIV/AIDS argue that the state health department as well as some NGOs in the field had slackened. "Early detection and effective monitoring mechanisms should be in place besides coordination among various units of the health departments," said an activist.

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