Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV—both individual and co-infection rates—are expected to increase significantly in the region if adequate measures are not taken to halt their spread and to treat those already infected. The prevalence of TB in the region and the growing problem of multi-drug resistant TB render prevention, treatment and care for it among people living with HIV (PLHIV) a top priority. Furthermore, HIV/TB co-infection remains the leading opportunistic infection for PLHIV in the EECA region. When HIV and TB coalesce, their combination can be fatal unless properly treated.
Hence, AFEW’s HIV/TB collaborative programmes are designed to improve the quality, range and reach of HIV and TB services available and to facilitate the co-ordination of HIV/TB activities between vertically separated and isolated healthcare structures. Likewise, our activities seek to increase communication, co-ordination, and collaboration within the community and across the highly vertically organised and highly specialised pillars of the healthcare system.
AFEW’s programmes to address HIV and TB co-infection have been developed around a mixed balance of three inter-related components, including:
policy development awareness raising and advocacy,
capacity and skills building, and
direct service support for vulnerable groups.
It has been demonstrated that, through increasing the number and quality of services available to vulnerable populations and ensuring that these groups gain access to these services, the impact of HIV in the region can be dramatically reduced. Furthermore, vulnerable populations will have access to the services they need to help them avoid contracting HIV or to assist them in coping with living with HIV, including support towards engaging in safer behaviours and in improving adherence to essential HIV and TB treatments (and, thus, reducing drug resistance). The outcome of this is anticipated to be a lower rate of HIV infection as well as a general improvement in the quality of life for PLHIV.