The HIV-associated tuberculosis epidemic-when will we act?
Despite policies, strategies, and guidelines, the epidemic of HIV-associated tuberculosis continues to rage, particularly in southern Africa. We focus our attention on the regions with the greatest burden of disease, especially sub-Saharan Africa, and concentrate on prevention of tuberculosis in people with HIV infection, a challenge that has been greatly neglected. We argue for a much more aggressive approach to early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection in affected communities, and propose urgent assessment of frequent testing for HIV and early start of antiretroviral treatment (ART). This approach should result in short-term and long-term declines in tuberculosis incidence through individual immune reconstitution and reduced HIV transmission. Implementation of the 3Is policy (intensified tuberculosis case finding, infection control, and isoniazid preventive therapy) for prevention of HIV-associated tuberculosis, combined with earlier start of ART, will reduce the burden of tuberculosis in people with HIV infection and provide a safe clinical environment for delivery of ART. Some progress is being made in provision of HIV care to HIV-infected patients with tuberculosis, but too few receive co-trimoxazole prophylaxis and ART. We make practical recommendations about how to improve this situation. Early HIV diagnosis and treatment, the 3Is, and a comprehensive package of HIV care, in association with directly observed therapy, short-course (DOTS) for tuberculosis, form the basis of prevention and control of HIV-associated tuberculosis. This call to action recommends that both HIV and tuberculosis programmes exhort implementation of strategies that are known to be effective, and test innovative strategies that could work. The continuing HIV-associated tuberculosis epidemic needs bold but responsible action, without which the future will simply mirror the past. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.