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TB-HIV Co-Infections Need Common Effort: UN Envoy

A U.N. meeting in June will examine the worrisome links between tuberculosis and HIV and how best to help millions of people who have both diseases, the U.N.'s special envoy on TB said on Tuesday.

"What we need from that meeting is to come out of it with a common strategy to scale up efforts to systematically address HIV-TB co-infection," said Jorge Sampaio, the U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy to Stop TB.

"Scientific knowledge leads us this way. On-the-ground experiences lead us this way," Sampaio, a former president of Portugal, told reporters in a briefing.

Between 12 million and 15 million people are infected with both HIV and TB, or about one-third of all people living with HIV, Sampaio said.

TB is among the leading killers of people with HIV, according to the World Health Organization. Of 9.2 million new TB cases in 2006, 700,000 people also had HIV infections, according to a report from the Geneva-based WHO released this month.

Sampaio said the HIV epidemic represents a "massive challenge" for the global control of TB, particularly in view of the emergence of drug-resistant TB.

The HIV-TB forum will be held on June 9 at the U.N. building in New York