DUSHANBE, March 19, 2011, Asia-Plus -- An action dedicated to World Tuberculosis Day took place in Dushanbe on March 18.

Representatives of the most-at-risk populations (MARPs), including commercial sex workers, injecting drug users (IDUs), homosexuals, former prisoners and people living with HIV, participated in the action that was held in the framework of the USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project.

Inaugurating the action, the Republican TB Center chairperson Firouza Saidova noted that growth in rate of spread of TB as well as HIV/TB co-infection in the country evoked serious concern.

“According to the statistical data from the Ministry of Health, 38 cases of TB were detected among 967 examined people living with HIV and 64 cases of HIV were detected among 5,300 examined TB sufferers last year,” Ms. Saidova said.

Mr. Kevin Dean, Deputy Director for USAID Tajikistan Country Office, noted that World TB Day gave an opportunity to discuss that problem openly and extensively, “while it is necessary to pay attention to the disease and measures to prevent it every day.”  “USAID gives priority to the projects to the TB prevention projects,” he stressed.

The main objective of the action was in raising population’s awareness of tuberculosis and ways of preventing the spread of the disease.

USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project is a five-year, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded program aimed at reducing the spread of the HIV and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics in Central Asia through improving health behaviors among the most-at-risk populations (MARPs).  The project goals include: reduction in risk behaviors associated with HIV transmission; increased use of evidence-based HIV prevention and TB treatment services by MARPs; improved TB case detection among selected MARPs; and improved adherence to and decreased default rate from TB treatment among MARPs.

The Targeted Outreach Package of Services (TOPS) is a modular package of outreach-based activities that is tailored to the needs of each MARP group, the country context and the complementary services available.  Outreach activities range from peer education and client management to social escorts that take clients to HIV and TB services (see Outreach to Vulnerable Groups Supported section for details) and complements, rather than duplicate existing services.  Local NGOs are key partners in implementing TOPS. USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project Consortium will provide significant capacity building and technical assistance to local NGOs working with MARPs to help them improve their outreach services and integrate TB into HIV outreach activities as appropriate.  Integrating TB into existing HIV outreach programs is a cost-effective way of ensuring that MARPs receive the full continuum of services.  USAID Dialogue on HIV and TB Project is implemented by a consortium of partners led by Population Services International (PSI) and includes Project HOPE, AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW), and the Kazakh Union of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan