UNITED NATIONS–March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, and UNAIDS is urging countries to do much more to reduce the number of tuberculosis (TB) deaths among people living with HIV, the virus that causes the killer disease AIDS, a UN spokesman said here Friday.
“TB is the most common cause of death among people living with HIV,” deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said at a daily news briefing here.
For example, 1.1 million people died from an AIDS-related illness in 2015, 400,000 of whom died from TB, Haq said.
Eight countries –the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia –account for about 70 percent of all TB deaths among people living with HIV, he noted.
“Scaling up action in these eight countries would put the world on track to reach the ambitious target of reducing TB-related deaths among people living with HIV by 75 percent by 2020,” Haq said.
This year is the second of a two-year “Unite to End TB” campaign for World TB Day.
World TB Day, falling on March 24 each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the death of nearly 1.5 million people each year, mostly in developing countries.
It commemorates the day in 1882 when Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.
At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, Germany, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way toward diagnosing and curing TB.