22 July 2018 | AMSTERDAM: The TB and HIV co-epidemic was in the spotlight at the 22nd International AIDS Conference, “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges”, which took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and was attended by more than 15,000 delegates. The World Health Organization delegation was led by the Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who opened the conference calling on delegates to harness the same energy and passion, and the same resources used to respond to HIV, in order to achieve universal health coverage, asserting that this is how we will defeat AIDS and build a healthier safer world for everyone, everywhere. This message is also essential for ending TB and ensuring people-centred care and prevention for all.
The AIDS conference was preceded by the TB2018 event, under the theme “Bridging the TB and HIV Communities” which was well attended with a packed agenda, helping to set the stage for the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB (UN HLM). The event highlighted the key scientific and operational challenges related to prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and to ending TB-related AIDS deaths. In her address to TB2018 participants, Dr. Soumya Swaminatham, WHO Deputy Director-General, provided examples on means to strengthen the TB and HIV response in tandem with efforts to achieve universal health coverage. Achieving universal health coverage to TB and HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people living with HIV, and people-, rather than expert-centred, care, were key themes interwoven throughout the week, as was the importance of ensuring the community are equal partners at the table, and included as part of planning and implementation. The International AIDS Conference had more sessions and abstracts focused on HIV-associated TB than previous years, including an oral abstract session, TB and HIV: Double Trouble, and a symposia session, Coinfections: Old and new. Other areas of focus included access to particularly at-risk populations such as people who use drugs, prisoners, and migrants, as well as issues such as sustainable financing and stigma. TB prevention among people living with HIV received considerable attention, including a WHO-convened side event on “TB preventive treatment among people living with HIV: Time for Action!” which highlighted the barriers and opportunities for scaling up TB preventive treatment among people living with HIV. Participants from Brazil, India, Kenya, South Africa and Ukraine shared experiences of scale-up, while key stakeholders such as PEPFAR, the Global Fund, Unitaid and civil society provided their perspectives on what can be done to support countries.
AIDS 2018 concluded with a keynote address from former US President Bill Clinton, during a Special Session on TB entitled "Seizing the moment for TB: Current Challenges in TB and HIV integration" and moderated by the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy on TB, Eric Goosby. In his address, Clinton appealed to conference delegates against complacency and to continue funding commitments for HIV and TB in the face of competing priorities, and for heads of state to attend the UN HLM in September 2018.
The Roadmap of HIV/TB Sessions with links to their respective presentations and videos of the sessions where available can be found here.