The spread of HIV and increase in injecting drug use (IDU) in many Eastern European countries have created new risk groups for tuberculosis (TB).
Intravenous drug users are vulnerable to TB. They face barriers in accessing TB and HIV-related care and may go untreated. Tackling these barriers is essential in order to improve access to care. Addiction and other problems can make it very challenging to follow a course of TB treatment to the end, and patients need all the help we can give them.
Despite better diagnostics and treatment, the fight against TB continues, and new challenges require coordinated action involving all possible partners – not just traditional healthcare systems and actors. Our institute works to ease the burden TB represents for countries and individuals and lower patient mortality rates.
Our main partners have been healthcare providers, but in recent years community based organizations (CBO) have become more involved. The importance of early diagnosis and effective treatment in fighting HIV and IDU-related TB cannot be overstated, and CBOs enjoy unique opportunities for educating risk groups, identifying cases, tracing patients' contacts, and helping them stay in treatment.
To help empower health systems and CBOs and increase cooperation among stakeholders, partners from several Eastern Europe countries will launch a TUBIDU project, with support from the 2008–2013 EU health programme.