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A South African treatment study has shown that mortality among tuberculosis (TB) and HIV co-infected patients can be reduced by 55 percent, if antiretroviral therapy (ART) is provided with TB treatment.
University of KwaZulu-Natal Professor Salim Karim, who is also a director of the Centre for the Aids Program Research in South Africa, made the announcement at a media briefing in Durban on Wednesday.
He said a trial which started in June 2005 showed that mortality could be reduced among co-infected TB-HIV patients.
During the trial, the progress of TB-HIV co-infected patients who received ART together with their TB treatment, was compared to that of patients assigned to receive ART after TB treatment.
"The study shows that integrating TB and HIV treatment and care saves lives...," said Karim.
"The results provide compelling evidence to support the World Health Organisation's call for the greater collaboration between TB and HIV treatment services..."
The co-ordinator of the United States President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) Mark Dybul said the scaling up of collaborative TB/HIV activities was a priority for the organisation.
"We remain committed to increasing screening for both HIV and TB, which will allow greater numbers of patients to benefit from these study results."
In South Africa, it is estimated that about 70 percent of all TB patients are infected with HIV. - Sapa