ITPC South Asia and GCTA are working together to help PLHIV protect themselves against TB

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ITPC South Asia is working with the Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA) to develop a robust advocacy roadmap for the rollout of TB preventive treatment through community engagement. Our recent in-person and virtual workshop in New Delhi, India, is another critical step toward that objective. We’re pleased to share this video from Solange Baptiste, Executive Director of ITPC Global, who delivered these short remarks to kick off the session. (See transcript below.)

“We are all here because of our commitment to fighting AIDS but we cannot win the battle against AIDS if we do not also fight TB. TB is too often a death sentence for people with AIDS.”

These are the words of Nelson Mandela in July 2004, but they echo through time as if he was with us today in 2021. Hi everyone, my name is Solange Baptiste, I’m the executive director of ITPC or the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. I am based in Johannesburg in South Africa.

As we stand, TB deaths have increased for the first time in more than a decade while, sadly, funding for TB has decreased. While COVID surpassed TB as the world’s leading infectious disease killer in 2020, TB remains the second biggest airborne disease, with more than 1.4 million people dying in 2019.

Yet, as organisations like UNITAID develop their 2022 to 2026 priorities, we disappointedly note that TB treatment is not included, even though there are advances that need to be introduced from short-course, drug-sensitive TB treatment to DR TB.

The most effective treatment available to reduce the risk of latent TB infection regressing to active TB disease is TPT, or TB preventive treatment. And that’s why we’re all here together today.

However, globally, the uptake of TPT continues to be low due to deep knowledge gaps. One of the reasons for these knowledge gaps is a lack of meaningful engagement with the affected community members. The over-medicalised approach to TB has largely alienated community members, keeping them away from the right information that they need to protect themselves from TB.

This is why ITPC is excited to collaborate with GCTA. There is critical work that must be done. We want to work with GCTA to help develop a robust advocacy roadmap and strategy for TPT in particular, using meaningful community engagement.