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Saving Lives Through Research & Development: Developing Better Technologies for TB/HIV

Even with all the money in the world, we can’t end tuberculosis without new vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. New, more deadly forms of the disease are incurable with the current treatments, and multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB) forms of TB have been reported in 58 countries, including here in the U.S.

The tools we currently have are inadequate to test and treat our way out of the TB-HIV co-epidemic. TB is a very contagious disease that spreads through the air. Prevention ranges from good ventilation and exposure to sunlight to intensive case-finding and putting people at high risk of infection on preventive drugs. While the BCG vaccine does save lives from TB and is used in most countries around the world to vaccinate newborns, it only protects against one type of TB and doesn’t offer lifelong protection. Further, it can’t help people with latent TB or active disease.

And treating TB is very costly in both human and economic terms. TB wreaks havoc on a person’s ability to work, attend school, or care for their family. It puts their loved ones and neighbors at risk. Plus, TB is very expensive.  In developing countries, a standard course of TB drugs cost about $ 20, MDR-TB drugs can cost upwards of $ 5,000, and XDR-TB treatment is far more expensive. This is a problem we can’t afford not to attack aggressively.

To bring attention to the need for increased investment in research and development for tuberculosis, ACTION, in partnership with TB Alliance and Aeras, is hosting a free, public session at the 2012 International AIDS Conference, called Saving Lives Through Research & Development: Developing Better Technologies to Address TB/HIV. No registration is required, and all are welcome to attend. Global Village’s TB-HIV Networking Zone, Exhibit Hall C, Booth #64, International AIDS Conference, Washington Conference Center, Washington, D.C. This event is one of many free events in the TB-HIV Networking Zone.

TB kills two million people worldwide each year and kills one in four people with HIV. Developing new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines is the future of saving lives from tuberculosis and TB/HIV co-infection. This session will feature the new 2-minute film “New Technology Saves Lives” which dramatically shows the difference of the patient diagnostic experience with GeneXpert as compared to previous tools. Jennifer Woolley from Aeras and Heather Ignatius from the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) will discuss emerging TB research into new vaccines and drugs, the effects these tools can have on TB and TB/HIV co-infection, and the advocate’s role in supporting TB research.