'Drug resistance can impact gains made in fighting TB'

Drug resistance can threaten gains made in fighting TB, AIDS: Study

A recent study estimated an additional 20% rise in TB deaths and 10% rise in HIV deaths in five years in the country due to Covid pandemic

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

The Covid-19 pandemic has been grossly responsible for exacerbating neglect of several other diseases like TB and AIDS, which has shown rise in deaths.

According to the AIDS Society of India, TB and HIV care is among those health priorities that slipped off the radar since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

A recent study estimated an additional 20 per cent rise in TB deaths and 10 per cent rise in HIV deaths in five years in the country due to Covid pandemic.

“It is high time to not lose the major advances India has made in fighting both: TB and HIV, and accelerate progress towards ending AIDS and TB both as committed by the government of India,” said Dr Ishwar S Gilada, President, AIDS Society of India.

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Alarming levels of drug resistance have been puncturing both these responses globally.

Dr Sudarshan Mandal, head of Indian government’s National TB Elimination Programme, and Dr Gilada, co-chaired an important high-level ASI Advisory Board Meeting on managing multidrug-resistant TB and HIV in the country.

TB and HIV drug resistance threatens the effective prevention and treatment. When drug resistance develops, the TB bacteria and AIDS virus change so that they no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat, more expensive to treat, and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

“We cannot afford to lose lifesaving medicines for TB and HIV at this critical juncture when all countries in the world have committed to end AIDS and TB by 2030, only 110 months left to meet the goal) India stands firm to end TB by 2025, only 50 months are left. Combating drug resistance is a more compelling priority than ever before,” said Dr.Gilada.

Dr.Ameet Dravid, HIV Medicine and infectious diseases expert from Ruby Hall Clinic and Poona Hospital, Pune, said that as per latest WHO Global TB Report, in India, almost half a million (4.45 lakhs) TB deaths occurred in 2019, which includes 9,500 deaths among people with HIV.

71,000 people living with HIV fell ill with TB in the country in 2019, out of which 44,517 people were notified and were on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment. In 2019, 1,24,000 in India were estimated to have drug-resistant TB out of which only 56,569 were put on possible treatment.

Dr Vikas S Oswal, Chest Consultant, National TB Elimination Programme trainer and Chairperson of DPS Shatabdi Municipal Hospital, Mumbai, emphasised on the need for timely and rational use of latest, more effective, less toxic and shorter duration treatment therapies for multidrug-resistant TB, which also works with comparable efficacy for people co-infected with HIV.

“Early and rapid diagnosis with genotypic tests, prompt treatment with appropriate regimens based on drug-susceptibility testing, preference for shorter regimen fortified with newer drugs, a patient-centric approach, and stronger infection-control measures are all essential components in the management of all forms of drug resistance impeding responses to both TB and HIV,” added Dr Gilada.

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