This World TB Day the International Community of Women Living with HIV asks for strengthened efforts towards inclusion of women and girls particularly women living with HIV as equal participants and stakeholders in realizing the vision of a TB free world.
TB still remains leading killer of HIV-positive people accounting for 40% of HIV deaths. Tuberculosis continues to impact on the health of women living with HIV negatively and is still evidenced as the leading cause of death among women living with HIV of reproductive age worldwide.
TB causes a number of adverse maternal health challenges for women and girls globally for instance TB among mothers has been associated with a six-fold increase in perinatal deaths and a two-fold risk of premature birth and low birth-weight; Genital TB is not only challenging to diagnose but has been identified as an important cause of infertility in high TB-incidence settings; TB in pregnant women living with HIV increases the risk of maternal and infant mortality by almost 300% with TB rates are up to 10 times higher in pregnant women living with HIV than in pregnant women without HIV infection in Africa This in addition to the dual stigma experiences for both HIV and TB, poor structural and infrastructural as well as non-optimal investment in addressing TB at country level continue to become an obstruction towards meeting the targets towards eradicating TB.
Lack of strong and sustainable commitments to address social determinants of health like poverty and lack of nutrition continue to affect uptake and adherence to TB prevention and treatment.
Evidence also shows us that TB is both treatable and curable however structural gaps and factors such as stigma and discrimination, gender inequalities and lack of respect for human rights are challenges that face women and girls living with HIV everyday posing their vulnerability to HIV and a possible vulnerability to TB.
This is why Women living with HIV MUST join the global movement in reiterating our commitment towards taking lead in engaging with Governments, policy makers and stakeholders in solidarity towards ending TB.
In line with this year’s theme “Leaders for a TB free World” ICW is calling on all our members to take lead at a personal level and in solidarity with community networks and country advocates to create awareness on the need for TB testing particularly among women and girls living with HIV in order to harness demand creation, reduce missed cases and increase early detection and treatment; We ask that we strengthen our strategic partnerships in country and globally to increase financing and support for TB interventions and programs that are responsive to the needs of women living with HIV and our communities.
ICW has been vocal in highlighting the nuances within the intersectionality of HIV and TB from lived experiences of our membership globally. With support from Robert CARR Network Foundation (RCNF) our efforts from 2016 and 2017 have improved grassroots women participation in Global Fund activities in country, regional and at the global level.
For instance, country reports indicate representation in County Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in all of our regional networks within our consortia, additionally, our country networks have demonstrated leadership in national level policy development processes including the Global Fund country funding request proposal writing processes where the focus has been to ensure gendered approaches work for women and girls.
ICW remains committed to working in partnership with all stakeholders and partners towards increased and sustained participation in country, regional and global processes geared towards ending TB Globally.
NOTHING FOR US WITHOUT US!
 UNAIDS 2017; Data report
 WHO 2016; TB in Women- Factsheet
 WHO 2015, END TB strategy 2015-2035