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TB, NCDs, and the Lessons of HIV

The world's ability to tame tuberculosis and noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension will hinge on the quality of prevention and treatment strategies. One blueprint worth emulating is the highly successful approach used to bring HIV/AIDS under control.

NEW YORK – Global health is once again in the spotlight. In September, the United Nations General Assembly convened two high-level meetings – one on ending tuberculosis (TB), and the other on fighting noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). It was the first time ever that the UN featured two health crises so prominently on its annual agenda.

But with these discussions now over, the global health community must focus on securing the necessary political commitments to sustain international coordination and planning. One model worth emulating in the fight against both TB and NCDs is the approach taken to confront the HIV epidemic.

Since 2001, when the UN General Assembly hosted its first meeting on HIV/AIDS, the trajectory of the disease has shifted dramatically. Today, some 22 million people living with HIV are receiving treatment. As a result, annual AIDS deaths have fallen by half – from 1.9 million in 2003 to 940,000 in 2017 – while the rate of new infection has decreased by nearly half in several of the hardest-hit countries. Efforts to control TB and NCDs – which, like HIV/AIDS, place a heavy burden on low- and middle-income countries – can leverage the lessons learned from the response to HIV.

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