TB-HIV co-infection crisis twice as big as previously thought: WHO

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Washington, Mar 25 (ANI): In recognition of World TB Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released new figures to show that co-infection of TB among HIV patients is nearly twice as big as previously thought.

In 2007, there were at least 1.37 million cases of HIV-positive TB - or nearly 15 percent of the total incident cases. That figure doubles that of the previous estimates, WHO said.

"A global health catastrophe is unfolding," said Gerald Friedland, a professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine and a leading expert on the emerging threat.

In addition, the WHO data shows that drug-resistant TB is on the rise.

There were more than 500,000 cases of MDR-TB in 2007, the WHO reported. And by the end of 2008, at least 55 countries and territories had identified at least one case of extensively drug-resistant TB.

HIV-positive patients are highly vulnerable to TB, because of their weakened immune systems, and tuberculosis is now the No. 1 killer of people with HIV.

These twin epidemics present a stark new global health threat and raise the prospect of a global pandemic of extensively-drug-resistant TB, which is extremely difficult to treat. (ANI)

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