November 16, 2011

An end to the AIDS epidemic is feasible, as Michael Gerson explained in his Nov. 11 column, “Do we have the will to end AIDS?,” thanks to the prevention benefit of AIDS treatment and other innovations.

Another benefit of this treatment is that it sharply reduces deaths from tuberculosis, which is the primary killer of people living with HIV/AIDS. But to fully succeed in Africa, where TB and HIV/AIDS are often two sides of the same coin, we have to quickly identify people who have TB or who are vulnerable to it and get them the services they need. We also must develop a test for TB that is just as fast and easy as an HIV test.  

Fortunately, research is proceeding on such a test, and U.S.-backed programs such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund are saving countless lives affected by both AIDS and TB.

But we face a historic choice. Do we stall or even cut these programs to achieve a relatively tiny budget savings, as proposed in the House of Representatives, or do we push boldly forward?

The answer is clear: We must seize this moment.

David Bryden, Washington

The writer coordinates U.S.-based advocacy on tuberculosis for the Stop TB Partnership.