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December 1, 2017

To Improve Life Expectancy for People Living with HIV, Urgent Action Must Be Taken on Tuberculosis and Smoking Cessation

(New York, USA) – Over 34 million people are HIV-positive, but the world is falling short in addressing two major threats to their ability to live long and productive lives – Tuberculosis (TB) and tobacco use.

On World AIDS Day, Vital Strategies calls upon the global health community to do more to improve TB control, reduce tobacco use, and improve the life expectancy of those affected. Despite being a curable disease, TB is the cause of one-third of 1.5 million AIDS deaths each year while smoking increases a patient’s risk of dying from the disease.

“Imagine the tremendous impact we could make if the AIDS, TB and tobacco control communities joined forces to save lives,” said José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies. “Vital Strategies calls on those organizations dedicated to addressing HIV and AIDS, TB and tobacco control to work together to improve life expectancy among people living with HIV.

Smoking is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, even among those who adhere to antiretroviral therapy. According to WHO, the adoption of collaborative TB/HIV activities helped to save an estimated 1.3 million lives between 2005 and 2011. Combining integrated prevention and management of TB/HIV with effective policies to reduce tobacco use would be a highly effective use of scarce healthcare resources and save even more lives.”

Castro concluded: “Next year’s first-ever United Nations High Level meeting on TB and the High Level meeting on NCDs represent real opportunities to prioritize this issue. We must insist on delivering tangible action, particularly for those living in low- and middle-income countries, who experience higher rates of TB / HIV coinfection and are most vulnerable to the tobacco industry’s influence. The time is now to end tobacco use, stigma and isolation among people living with TB and HIV, and HIV transmission.”

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health expert, please contact press@vitalstrategies.org.

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